Imagine a work environment where every team member feels comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas.
- An environment where people feel like they can learn from their mistakes and not humiliated.
- An environment where disagreements and open discussions are encouraged and not seen as a threat.
Perhaps you already work in an office like this and you probably feel grateful for it! However, if you’re like many, it could feel like a dream that will never come true. That’s because many organizations have difficulty developing and maintaining a strong sense of psychological safety for their team members. As we discussed in our last article, psychological safety is about being able to act and engage in a team without fear of negative consequences. It’s one of the strongest proven predictors of team effectiveness.
It takes great leadership and management to create psychological safety. But if you feel like it’s lacking in your organization, what are a few first steps you can take to improve it? Here are some ideas to get started:
- Practice accountability and lead by example: Leaders set the tone for an organization and are responsible for the psychological safety of the workplace. Leaders should be approachable, be open to opinions that differ from their own and be willing to acknowledge their own mistakes (just to name a few).
- Enhance communication skills: For example, ask team members directly for their thoughts and opinions. Encourage people to share by asking questions. Actively ask quieter individuals for their input. Also, practice active listening by leaving your phone on your desk during meetings and improving eye contact.
- Hone conflict resolution skills: No one likes to deal with conflict, but when you’re leading a team, it’s inevitable. If a team member humiliates or undermines others or prevents team members from speaking up, leaders have to be ready to intervene. Just one or two negative people can really put a damper on overall company culture.
- Foster open conversations with team members: It’s vital to pay attention to how your team operates. Do some people dominate during meetings? Are some more quiet and seem reluctant to participate? Make an effort to enable equal speaking time for everyone. A calm environment and perhaps some ice breakers are just a few ways to put everyone at ease. Team outings or even virtual hangouts can also provide an opportunity for team members to let their guard down and get to know each other better.
Saying you encourage your team to speak up and be candid is one thing, but creating a culture of trust is another. It takes care, consistency and a commitment to learning new behaviors, but the payoff is worth it! Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. Leah M. Joppy and Associates is ready to help with fresh ideas and strategies to help you increase psychological safety within your organization. Call us at 301-670-0051 or email us at email@example.com and let’s start 2023 off on a productive note!