Since nowadays organization are endlessly trying to find new and effective ways of working together and creating a more positive and fulfilling workplace, it’s not a surprise that psychological safety is getting a crucial role alongside with workplace culture and employees experience.
Even if this term might appear like an indefinite or complex element like most of things in workplaces that are related to human beings, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about it or try to strengthen it as a company.
In fact, psychological safety is beyond a feel-good term used to trigger employee motivation and engagement, it is a central component of highly performing teams.
That’s why the Project Aristotle, conducted by google came to find that psychological safety is the most important element out the 5 high performing teams’ indicators.
High performing teams’ components:
Structure and clarity
Meaning of work
Impact of work
But what is exactly psychological safety
Amy Edmondson, a Harvard business school professor describes it as: “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.”
So basically, psychological safety could be identified as a feeling of being safe to show one’s vulnerability, to undertake risks in front of other teammates, to make mistakes, dare coming with new ideas while being confident that you want get judged or punished.
At its deepest forms, psychological safety would be seen when team members feel totally safe to take interpersonal risks.
Nine signs saying that an organization has a poor psychological safety:
To identify the level of psychological safety in a company here are some signs telling you that your employees don’t feel psychologically safe:
Teams avoid talking about hot-button topics or complex conversations.
Employees never ask questions during meetings.
Workers don’t feel the confidence to admit mistakes and place the blame one someone else when mistakes happen.
Employees don’t know each other outside of the working space (it’s just a professional connection).
Employees don’t dare to disagree with their managers or bring to the table new point of view.
Colleagues never ask for each other help when they need it.
Feedback is not often given frequently.
Employees do not venture outside their job descriptions to support others.
How to measure psychological safety
When you want to improve your HR management or strategy to boost your employee’s engagement and performance it is essential to diagnose your workers issues.
This means starting with collecting valuable people data that can give you insights into what’s working and is not when it comes to your employees.
When you start to see signs of low psychological safety, go deeper than that and find out what’s really going on.
You can do that by using simple means like survey monkey. Conduct an internal survey by asking your employees to rate on a scale of 1 -5 (1: strongly disagree to 5 strongly agree)
1.People here are able to talk about problems and tough issues.
2.I feel safe to take a risk in this company.
3.It’s difficult to ask other members of this company for help.
4.No one at this company will act in a way that will undercut my efforts.
5.While working in this company, my personal skills and talents are well utilized and valued.
6.If I make any mistake at this company, it is often held against me.
7.People at this company can sometimes reject other people for being different from them.
A positive feedback to the first 5 elements and a negative one for the two last ones means a strong sense of psychological safety.
This study can be conduct with a focus on the organization as a whole, then it can be followed with a more detailed survey specific for each team.
Just try to come up with questions and topics that can be relatable to all the team members.
The corporate result will give important insights related to corporate culture issue, talent management, sense of belonging and other elements that may affect psychological safety.
After that the directing manager or CEO can compare each team specific result to the organization benchmark to find out which managers are better and which ones are worst at instituting psychological safety inside teams.
Having these valuable results will allow you seeing the bigger picture and start thinking of plans and real action that can improve psychological safety inside the company.
The 2019 people management report revealed that great managers had a holistic approach to introduce and strengthen psychic safety inside their teams. A holistic vision is a way through which managers address a group of issues all simultaneously.
And by taking action, investigating and trying to find out the roots of each problem, future plans can be made, detailed and introduced as guidelines or basic of the corporate rules or cultural contributing to install and monitor the psychological safety within each organization.