Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace

by Feb 9, 2023

Psychological safety in the workplace is the cornerstone of a positive and productive culture. “Psychological safety is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.”

To build and manage high-performing teams, leaders must actively work to create an environment where individuals feel safe to express their ideas, opinions, and concerns without fear of negative consequences. 

Take a look at your company. Do people feel safe giving each other feedback, or do you have a culture of shame, blame, and gossip?

 

Creating psychological safety in the workplace

Here are three ways to create a culture of psychological safety.

 

Set the stage

As a leader of a team, it’s important to set the stage for psychological safety by creating a shared identity among team members and providing structure for them to feel safe in their work. 

This includes fostering a sense of their individual contribution and cohesion as a team, and being open and transparent about any challenges or uncertainties that may arise. 

Additionally, it’s crucial for the leader to role-model vulnerability and show their humanity in order to establish credibility and trust where team members feel comfortable being open and honest in return. Don’t be a “Do as I say, not as I do” kinda boss. 

 

Invite participation

To foster a culture of participation and inclusivity, it’s important to be intentional and creative in inviting diverse perspectives and ideas. This can be done by actively seeking input from team members through open-ended questions, instead of directing them on what to do. 

Psychologically safe space is a courageous space where people feel safe dissenting opinions and delivering constructive criticism, by inviting participation and encouraging individuals to challenge and question ideas, which ultimately leads to stronger culture. The opposite of courage isn’t cowardice; it’s conformity. And conformity is where innovation goes to die. 

 

Respond productively

Finally, the most critical element that leaders often forget is to acknowledge and respond appropriately to team members who have mustered the courage to speak up and express their ideas or concerns.

The way in which you address their input sets the tone for future communication and encourages them and others witnessing this interaction to continue taking risks and speaking up in the future. 

Show them that you value their input and take their concerns seriously. Practicing these skills and regularly discussing psychological safety within the team can help prevent a single negative comment from undermining the overall sense of safety for everyone. 

 

Conclusion

Psychological safety, just like authenticity, isn’t a permanent state but rather is constantly being created and reinforced through the actions and behaviors of team members. It can be easily undermined by a single negative comment or action, and it’s the responsibility of the team leader and members to continuously build and maintain it. 

In other words, psychological safety is an ongoing process that requires constant attention and effort to foster and maintain, just as authenticity is determined by one’s choice to be authentic in each moment.

 

Sincerely,

The Civility Partners Team

 

PS: Are you ready to take your team’s performance to the next level? We have an exciting opportunity for you. We’re giving away a FREE resource, a webinar on “Creating and Measuring Psychological Safety” on March 15th, 10AM Pacific, with our Director of Learning and Development, Anya Soto!

This webinar is worth 1 SHRM PDC for all live attendees. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn and improve your team’s performance and culture!

Claim your spot here.

 

 

Do you know how much money chronically bad behavior costs your company? Spoiler alert – it’s a LOT higher than you want it to be. Download our data and worksheet to see how it’s costing your organization and what you can do to fix it.

 

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.

Can a Wage Increase Make Employees More Productive?

In California, the upcoming minimum wage boost for fast food workers to $20 starting April 1st has ignited discussions about its potential influence on worker productivity.  Currently, the median hourly wage for fast-food workers in the U.S. is $13.43, while in...

Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Work Culture

Employees quit their jobs for different reasons, and a major one is because of a toxic workplace environment. In fact, researchers discovered that between April and September 2021, toxic culture was the main reason why employees decided to leave their jobs. A toxic...

Civility Partners at 15 Years!

2024 marks an incredible milestone for us—our 15th-anniversary celebration! Yes, you read that right—15 years of making a positive impact on over 270 organizations served, thousands of employees, and millions of people worldwide! Thanks to the vision of our founder...

Driving Organizational Success Through Behavior Change

How can you make your workplace more exciting and successful?  Organizational success is not solely dependent on strategies or cutting-edge technologies. Instead, the key driver of success lies within the organization itself—specifically, within the collective...

How Much is Your Culture Costing You?

Creating a positive workplace culture isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a key player in the success of any business. It goes beyond token gestures like wellness days and promotions; it's fundamentally about how you treat your people, the support you extend to your team,...

Are you bamboozled by your company’s culture?

Your first day at a new job is a lot like embarking on an adventure. You step through the doors, eager and optimistic, your mind filled with expectations set by the promises of the company’s values and mission. For some, these principles are more than just words on a...

The Brave Leader’s Edge: Vulnerability in Leadership

How many times have you cried in front of your team? How many times have you admitted to not having all the answers or feeling unsure about the direction ahead? In the traditional realm of leadership, these instances might have been considered taboo or signs of...

3 Organizations that are Combating Technology-Facilitated Abuse

The reach of technology is astonishingly broad. It's awesome how it brings us all closer, but when it's not handled well, it can cause some serious problems too. From monitoring phone conversations to tracking someone's every move through GPS, access to emails, texts,...

Five Essential Tips for Effective Workplace Communication

Effective communication is like the secret sauce that makes a workplace go from good to great. Whether you're a team player or steering the ship as a leader, honing your communication skills is a game-changer. According to Grammarly, poor communication in the...

Craft a Thriving Culture for 2024 and Beyond!

The turn of the year often marks a time for personal resolutions, but what about resolutions for the workplace? According to Gallup, employee engagement in the U.S. saw its first annual decline in a decade -- dropping from 36% of engaged employees in 2020 to 34% in...