How to improve psychological safety at work.

How to improve psychological safety at work.

Feeling safe and secure is a basic and innate human need; We all have this! And without it, we can feel seriously out of whack. We might feel depressed, perpetually anxious, overwhelmed, scared, fearful, and more.

Yet, fostering psychological safety in our life and work doesn’t have to be overly complicated.

In fact, learning about psychological safety can prove useful and invaluable for leaders in the workplace, as well as within the household. So, let’s learn about it.

What is psychological safety?

How can we improve psychological safety in the spaces we occupy?

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety refers to the ability to speak up, express ideas, ask questions, admit mistakes, or bring up concerns without fear of being ridiculed, punished, or shamed.

In the workplace, this often translates into a team perspective that it’s okay to take risks; In fact, it should be encouraged to foster growth and move the needle forward.

Basically, it’s the idea of feeling safe and secure within an environment to bring up tough or hard conversations. In many ways, this improves the efficiency and effectiveness of a team. People feel more motivated, involved, engaged, and happier.

And of course, this makes sense, especially when considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and that safety ranks pretty high when it comes to our basic human needs.

What is an Example of Psychological Safety?

A few examples of psychological safety include:

  • Feeling comfortable asking your boss or co-workers questions
  • Being able to bring up potential pitfalls or mistakes without fear of being prosecuted
  • Encouraging one another to take some risks and bring original ideas to the table
  • Lifting each other up in a group setting as opposed to shutting each other down through intimidation or bullying

All of the above creates a team atmosphere where every individual feels valued and heard, which, as many of us know, is undeniably important for overall mental well-being and safety.

What Are The 5 Steps to Psychological Safety?

Alright, so how can you create an environment that supports the psychological safety of all involved?

How can you ensure everyone feels comfortable and safe? Here are a few steps!

Step 1: Create an open and respectful culture.

Usually, as a leader, this means setting the stage or setting the “example” for others. Being respectful in every interaction and being open to ideas or questions can show that it’s okay to bring up concerns and also shows that everyone is valued as a team member.

To foster this, ask open-ended questions and lead the way with empathy! This means considering others’ feelings while you communicate any and all feedback.

Step 2: Be honest and transparent with projects or processes.

Transparency goes a long way in most situations.

When we can understand the reasoning behind decisions, we are better able to accept them. So, how does this contribute to psychological safety? Well, it fosters trust, which helps us feel safe and respected.

It also creates a more “team-oriented” atmosphere as opposed to a “you-against-me” atmosphere.

Step 3: Have clear expectations (and communicate them!).

This goes for leaders in the workplace and can also apply somewhat to parenting at home.

Leaders in the workplace should clearly lay out the expectations of each job role or project, which allows the team to understand what needs to be done to meet or exceed those.

This may mean having clear goals, defining success, and supporting each individual on their journey toward achieving success (more on this below).

In terms of parenting, this may come down to behavior or manners and what is expected of each individual in the family. Again, the parent should exemplify the behavior they wish to see!

Step 4: View failure or mistakes as a learning opportunity.

Failure is only failure if we give up. Instead, any mistake made by you or your team can be turned into a learning experience.

  • What can be done differently next time?
  • What process needs to be improved so it doesn’t happen again?

These are insightful questions that can turn a mistake or slip up into a positive.

Additionally, as a leader, you can exemplify this by fessing up and taking ownership or responsibility for your own mistakes. This shows it’s okay to make mistakes as long as they are accounted for, and there is an ability to move past them.

Step 5: Be supportive!

Encourage those around you. Lift them up. Give positive reinforcement and feedback when things go well. Make decisions a collaborative effort. And don’t forget to check in with all team members to see how you can help or support them.

The 4 Components of Psychological Safety

In order to feel psychologically safe, we must feel included, as though it’s okay to learn, safe to contribute, and feel safe to challenge ideas. By using the above steps and tips, we can do this for ourselves and our team, creating a positive work environment.

Psychological Safety = Improved Performance & Satisfaction

Use this as a superpower to ensure a healthy and happy environment everywhere you go. From the workplace to social functions, this matters and helps others feel supported and valued.

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