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How Psychologically Safe Do Your People Feel?

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

How psychologically safe does your team feel? It is a proven fact that companies and leaders which offer psychological safety have the highest levels of creativity in the world. A paper here demonstrates that teams which have high psychological safety perform better and learn more quickly. This freedom to make mistakes inspires creativity.

Within the background which I grew up in mistakes were not acceptable. Punishment came if you weren’t first in line at the awards and I was ridiculed if I did something which wasn’t quite right. This has stayed with me throughout my adult life and if it wasn’t for becoming an executive coach and understanding the importance of making mistakes in order to learn I would’ve still been terribly fearful about not getting things right all the time.

As a CEO or business leader do you allow your people the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them? Do you offer an environment which gives psychological safety to people? A place which allows them to talk about how things went wrong and then how to do things differently next time?

There are companies like Google which allow people 20% of their time to work on a project of their own which is completely innovative and outside the box. This ensures the company creates new products, has new ideas and also maintains the employee happiness. Again allowing some people to make mistakes and encouraging psychological safety to embrace creativity.

When someone in your organisation has made an error firstly how do they feel about it and secondly how do you deal with it? Do you know how they are feeling? Have you asked them? Remember people's levels of psychological safety may be different therefore what you consider to be okay might not be for your employees.

Below is a questionnaire which you can use to send to your people. Ideally use an anonymous platform like Google sheets or survey monkey to encourage honesty.

  • How do you feel when you make mistakes at work?

  • Is it safe to take a risk?

  • Is it difficult or easy to ask other team members for help?

  • What is your line manager's reaction when something goes wrong at work?

  • Do you believe that making mistakes is acceptable in a working environment?

  • Would you say that psychological safety in your office is high, medium or low?

Part 2 next week will show some exercises how to improve your team’s psychological safety.

If you would like an anonymous psychological safety assessment carried out for your company, please connect directly with me and I can help you.

Caroline Langston is the Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. She is also the Founder of a nonprofit providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching Mastery from the ICF, Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC. Also further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level.

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