Perhaps shamed, scorned, passed over, or neglected? We've all been there. In all of its forms, fear activates the pain centers of the brain and triggers the self-censoring instinct – paralyzing performance, freezing initiative, and smothering innovation.
Psychological safety is feeling included, safe to learn, safe to contribute, and safe to challenge the status quo and not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, alternate views, questions, or mistakes.
For example, is this a place where new ideas are welcomed and built upon? Or picked apart and ridiculed? Will my colleagues embarrass or penalise me for offering a different point of view, or for admitting I don’t understand something?
Not surprisingly, psychological safety is a dynamic and delicate variable that's hard to build and easy to destroy.
The level of psychological safety in a team is the central measure of that team’s culture, health, and vitality. Positive work cultures have a dramatic effect on the mental well-being of their employees and contribute significantly to workplace satisfaction. It also enables creativity, innovation, good decision making, and better solutions.
Practically speaking, this might look like a team where people are more likely to discuss mistakes, share ideas, ask for, and receive feedback, and experiment.
Sounds like a great team! Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t be surprising that psychological safety is also strongly linked to employee satisfaction!
The bottom line is, if you can take risks without your team beating you up, you’ll be more likely to succeed.
The costs of NOT providing psychological safety are pretty high. Not only will you experience loss through absenteeism, but there will also likely be lost productivity, impeded business growth, and compensation claims.
As well, you run the risk of losing skilled staff (or not attracting them), your customer experience will most likely drop, and you risk damage to your reputation.
The other biggie is breaching the Workplace Health and Safety regulations. And even more than that (yes, it gets bigger), individuals in leadership roles may also be liable for failing to exercise due diligence in a timely way when they respond to incidences in the workplace.
How do you make others feel included?
How do you make others feel safe and motivated to learn?
How do you make others feel safe enough to contribute and make a difference?
How do you make others feel safe enough to challenge the status quo, innovate, and make things better?