9 Tips for Increasing Psychological Safety at Work

by May 26, 2021

Civility Partners has been talking about psychological safety since its inception, and we’ve been doing training on topics like being an ally to others, and building positive and safe work environments, for over a decade. Even our first training programs focused on providing tools to managers and leaders so that they could actively create and participate in the process of building a civil and respectful environment.

That’s why Stacia Garr’s presentation last week at the Workhuman Live virtual conference caught my eye. Stacia is the co-founder and principal analyst for Red Thread Research, who discovered that there was a 17% decline in psychological safety during the pandemic. To be honest, this feels low as I’ve been thinking 100% of people experienced some level of decline in their psychological safety during the pandemic. (Though I could certainly be wrong this one time.)

Anyway, Stacia discussed building manager capabilities in coaching, clearing barriers, and candor in order to increase psychological safety. In other words, a manager capable of building psychological safety might be:

  • Helping employees learn from mistakes
  • Enabling employees to have ongoing conversations with others related to their work, career, vulnerabilities, and more
  • Taking a hard look at their biases and understanding how those biases influence their behavior
  • Demonstrating commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging with actions, not just words
  • Managing difficult conversations effectively
  • Providing balanced and objective feedback

We think the following are just as important:

There are certainly many more tasks and activities managers must engage in beyond the nine shared in this blog post. Not to mention each item on this short list is a feat of its own and not to be taken lightly. All of these suggestions require training, coaching, support, and accountability.

That’s why increasing psychological safety should be on your strategic plan for returning to work, equity and inclusion, or organizational culture. Add it to your plan, include these nine tips as action items, and look like a rockstar in front of your leadership team. Help them see that psychological safety plays a huge role in inclusivity and belonging, and in rebuilding your culture as the pandemic is coming to an end.

If manager capability to increase psychological safety, respect, and collaboration is something  your organization is looking to improve upon as we again pivot into another new world, contact us today!


Catherine & the Civility Partners Team

P.S. We also have some other helpful resources around remote work and engaging employees from home. Check out our blog here.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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