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5 Tips for Building A Culture Of Psychological Safety





5 tips for building a culture of psychological safety in your team

Psychological safety is the basis of the best performing teams.

It can make or break a team. When people don't feel safe, they are less likely to take risks. Fear prevents people from speaking out, making honest comments, or sharing their ideas.

In contrast, trust and curiosity broaden our mind. Positive emotions encourage divergent thoughts and creativity.

Let’s make sure we’re talking safe. Confidence is like water. Your team should relax and float.


What is psychological safety?

Psychological security is defined as the state in which an individual can express their full potential without being afraid. Without it, it becomes difficult for a person:

  • Clearly analyze a situation,
  • Develop complex solutions to a problem,
  • To offer innovative and creative solutions.

Its absence also generates automatic protective reflexes: self-censorship, disengagement, flight. The employee will deploy a large part of his energy not to work, but to look for ways to protect himself.

When is a group psychologically safe?

In a group of people, psychological safety produces shared trust and respect, which translates concretely as follows:

  • All employees express themselves more easily,
  • Each member of the group is able to detect and respond to non-verbal signals sent by each of the participants.


1. Develop self-awareness

In a Psychological safety environment confidence starts with yourself. If you want someone to trust you, you have to trust yourself first.

Self-awareness not only helps us grow but it also reveals our blind spots. Feedback from others is essential to understanding how we stack up in relation to the trust we give.

Self-aware leaders understand vulnerability, they are not afraid to admit their mistakes. This is the first step in healing an insecure culture.

We need a culture in which issues are not hidden but can be communicated openly to superiors.

Self-awareness makes us confident and trustworthy.


2. Encourage participation

It is difficult to detect when your employees are not honest in their words. Silence can encourage group thinking, default consensus, and people who keep their ideas to themselves.

Set up meetings to encourage full engagement, thus promoting a safe place for psychological safety.

For example, by encouraging people to take part in the conversation. Give each team member time to speak. Managers or people with strong temperaments should preferably speak last, as they can influence or intimidate others.

Hold silent meetings. Participants have 30 minutes to review a document before the start of the conversation.

Brainstorm in writing. Introverts are intimidated by loud, rhythmic sessions. Let everyone write down their ideas on their own before sharing as a group.

Practice progressive collaboration. We start to work alone, then in pairs, then in four and finally in groups. The “1–2–4-All” is perfect for brainstorming and feedback sessions.


3. Set up team rituals

Rituals are a simple and effective way to bring about meaningful change. They accelerate collaboration, creativity and trust.

Indeed, they create a constant incentive so that, over time, we learn to do something in a natural and intuitive way.

Team rituals have the power to bring people together. They help correct or reinforce behavior in a humane, non-threatening way.

Promote the vulnerability by sharing current folders. Every Friday, the team meets around a large table. Everyone gets a glimpse of new features or tools and can provide feedback to their colleagues.

Invite the teams over a coffee. This is an open meeting format without an agenda. Everyone shares topics they would like to cover. Then the whole team decides which ones to follow.

Personalize these moments as a group and encourage authenticity. Stories make connections. They inspire people to open up and share.


4. Establish adult rules

Most companies say they trust their employees, but their rules show otherwise.

Control is the enemy of trust. If your business rules treat people like children, don't expect them to behave like adults.

This is the reason why stupid rules frustrate your best people. They punish 97% of employees because the remaining 3% seek to hijack them.

If you want to create a psychological safety culture, start by creating safety standards.

Make good faith a fundamental principle. Most people show it, not the other way around.

Rules should empower people, not hinder their potential. Instead of telling people what not to do, the rules should encourage them to make the right choices.

More and more companies have an unlimited vacation policy. Some eliminate the expense report approval process. Everything employees submit is reimbursed, and no questions are asked.

Trust is not built with words, but with actions.


5. Reward and punish behavior

The culture of your business is defined by the behaviors you reward and the behaviors you punish.

Confidence cannot be built with a PowerPoint. The daily actions of managers make rain and shine on the psychological security of the company.

Confidence is fragile: difficult to build, easy to destroy. Managers choose the people who will be promoted, those who will work on the most popular projects, or even those who will follow the best training.

Rewarding the wrong people destroys trust. Just as damaging is to do nothing when people do not respect the values of the company.

What you rent, call, share or ignore shapes your team culture. Everyone's behavior helps create a climate of trust. What do you reward and punish?

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