How many of you are afraid of asking questions, giving feedback, disagreeing, or offering up your own ideas at work? Or do you worry about making mistakes, saying the wrong thing and being judged? Who says you can’t be yourself, have a little fun, AND bring your personality to the workplace?
Psychological safety, coined by Amy Edmondson, refers to having a “team climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.” Or in other words, the level of psychological safety reflects the employee’s perception of how others will respond to their questions, feedback, mistakes, or new ideas; all of which are paramount to creativity and success in work teams. Not only will you feel more psychologically well with these qualities in place, but companies will also improve productivity, effectiveness, and overall team functioning will soar!
My recent talk on Psychological Safety (sign up for access to this FREE video) at work was about how each person can not only cultivate a better quality of life, but how we can increase the vitality and success of companies by supporting the psychological health of our workforce. If you’ve ever felt restrained or judged from asking questions, making mistakes, giving feedback, sharing your ideas, or disagreeing with your coworkers, then you may be in a psychologically unsafe work environment. Counselling for the employees is not the only intervention, specialists in psychological health have to also enter the workplace and ensure that the company is cultivating a climate of trust, structure, respect, openness, and inclusiveness. The goal of this is for each person to be authentic and bring out their unique strengths and ideas, while also leaving room for trial and error.
It is absolutely essential to identify, discuss, and learn from mistakes versus fearing and scapegoating people’s mistakes. This is a hallmark of great teams that are high functioning, learning organizations. Great teams are the ones that prioritize their employees’ psychological safety at work and encourage you to be yourself. Even Google researched this phenomenon and found that the greatest teams were more likely to own up to their mistakes, were better partners to their colleagues, less likely to leave the company, and more likely to be open to diverse ideas (Shriar, 2016). Out of the five traits they found most important to high functioning teams, being comfortable sharing with colleagues without feeling embarrassed was the most significant: supporting the prioritization of psychological safety at work. So go ahead and be your best self —- not just in your personal life, but at work as well.