Psychological safety is not about being nice!

There is a misconception that psychological safety is about being nice or is “nice to have”. 

Not so, studies such as those undertaken by Google’s Project Aristotle, the work of Amy Edmondson and more, show that in the world of uncertainty and interdependence, psychological safety is a necessity to not only survive but to drive the necessary innovation to be a market and thought leader. 

But how do you know if you have a psychologically safe organisation? 

While a proper diagnostic is recommended, here are some indicators your workplace may not be psychologically safe:

  • Workplace silence: People are silent and not sharing their ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. 
  • Hierarchy: A leader joins a meeting, some/all people regularly stop contributing, openly sharing ideas, thoughts, debating, etc. 
  • Monoculture: Ideas shared from a different perspective are shut down or criticised.
  • Shaming & Blaming: Mistakes are hidden and not reported for fear of shaming and blaming. Or if errors are made they are used as an opportunity to blame and shame.
  • Transparency & Information withholding: Non-sensitive information that is important to project or client work is withheld.
  • Playing nice: Teams play nice or are agreeable in a meeting, only to leave and have conversations that contradict the meeting agreements and discussions.

Psychological safety is an essential component of a high performing team because people feel safe to engage in interpersonal risk‐taking behaviours in the workplace. Meaning they feel they won’t be punished or humiliated if they challenge the status quo, speak up and express concerns, ask questions or constructively disagree with others. It is these behaviours that lead to better solutions and outcomes.

Psychological safety isn’t about being nice, lowering performance standards, and no accountability. Psychologically safe teams that have high performance standards and accountability result in a high performing team. 

If you would like to learn more about building psychological safe and high performing teams connect with me at marianne@quantumleap-global.com to book a consultation.

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