Psychological Safety

Posted & filed under Blog, Executive Coaching, Top Team Effectiveness.

High performing teams and psychological safety

Google’s Project Aristotle, a two year study on team performance, put psychological safety as the most important variable for high team performance. With continuous uncertainty, fuelled by slowing global growth, pressured labour markets and the likelihood of trade conflicts deepening, how can the degree of psychological safety amongst out top teams boost business performance?

Aziz resilience specialist and business psychologist, Hazel, explains that there is a positive correlation between environments where staff feel psychologically safe and reports of excellent end of year results. Furthermore, there is significant evidence illustrating that where there is a high degree of psychological safety, learning takes place at a much faster pace enabling organisations to be agile and keep up with customer expectations and competitors.

What is psychological safety?

Uncertainty and change can prompt fear responses that inhibit performance. Psychological safety describes an environment where individuals feel able to ask questions and share both ideas and concerns without the fear of negative consequences of their actions. It requires a high climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect. Team members take the initiative for improvements, learning and performing. They collaborate and work effectively.

How leaders can create psychological safety amongst their teams

  1. Stay curious and engaged – actively seek feedback from your teams. Avoid defensive responses when things don’t go to plan by engaging team members in an exploration to establish the reasons why and then look for solutions by offering your support. Encourage everyone to contribute and don’t allow interruptions. Actively listen, offer suggestions and maintain eye contact.
  2. Model vulnerability – ask your teams to challenge your ideas and decisions. By doing this, you are showing that you respect their opinion and competence. You will build trust amongst your teams and promote positive questioning and behaviour. If you share your failures, your personal risk-taking is demonstrated and it will encourage others to take risks.
  3. Be positive – build rapport, be available, show gratitude. No one wants to look ignorant, incompetent or intrusive. Discourage team members from talking negatively about each other. Share and celebrate your teams’ successes.

For more details on the Psychological Safety workshops, we run for leaders, contact kate@azizcorp.com or call 01962 774 766

Further reading

HBR article – High performing teams need psychological safety. Here’s how to create it.

TED Talk – Building a psychologically safe workplace – Amy Edmondson

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