Psychological Safety

Have you ever evaluated the level of psychological safety in your team?

Is it okay to challenge the status quo? Can people discuss behaviors that bother them? Is it acceptable to challenge a supervisor when they don’t show up on time or blame a subordinate when they forgot to do something?

Psychological safety is not the same thing as comfort. Comfort may entail not bringing up challenging subjects. Comfort is knowing your place and keeping the harmony. This surface comfort can hamper growth and undermine your organization.

Consider whether there are subjects or people that no one talks about in your organization, such as the department that gets resources when everyone else is cut, ….or the department that never completes its work on time with no consequences….or, the unspoken understanding that a department doesn’t have to share information that would help another department to function better.

Addressing difficult situations and disfunction can be very uncomfortable.

Start with some agreements about “how we will be around here”.

-What does respectful conversation look like?

-How will we treat errors and mistakes?

-Do we allow sarcasm, name-calling and negative comments to be passed off as jokes, or are people called out for them?

-How do we ask for help?

-How do we share information?

Who is responsible for what?

As you think about it, the list keeps growing. If we make and enforce clear guidelines around how we will be together, we clean up the sloppiness and make it safe for challenge, accountability and mutual collaboration. The respect people will have for one another will grow, as will the communication on difficult topics and behaviors.

Without safety, fast, agile growth won’t happen. This week, think about how to make it safe to address complacency and disfunction in your organization. It will be a lot more fun and you will be a lot more successful as a company, if you do.

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