Living in these times of disruption, uncertainty and insecurity, for many of us, makes it almost impossible to feel safe and have a sense of stability at work and at home. With the constant tension among countries, world and economic events changing every minute and a virus still imminent on impeding our previous way of life, people are desperate for a glimpse of what used to represent normalcy.
What then, can be done to foster this environment of being free from toxic work behaviours and create a safe space that can help your staff who are either still working from home, or in this post-Covid workplace environment?
Recognising signs of zero Psychological Safety in the workplace:
Employees who fear giving input or feedback
Unsafe language or passive-aggressive attacks towards employees or even among leaders
Employers' emotional blackmail towards staff e.g if you don't work overtime, I will deduct your pay
Non-inclusive environment where not all cultures and races are embraced or welcomed
Peer or Manager Bullying
Do these actions and behaviours sound familiar at your workplace? If your answer is yes to any of the above, then there is one ingredient which is fundamentally lacking in the organisation.
Trust isn't something that is built or developed overnight, in any relationship, professional or personal. It has to be embedded in the company culture. Encouraging trust will increase genuine collaboration among co-workers and establish a long-term psychologically safe environment among old and new employees.
How do organisations move ahead in these uncertain times to regroup with this strategy and start building a culture of trust and creating psychological safety at their workplace? It is always possible and never too late, if the leadership takes the lead in placing a bit of trust in their teams everyday, it will grow into a culture. Start with relinquishing control over small projects and allow more breathing space for each team member.
The Benefits of a Psychologically Safe Workplace
Psychologically safe employees will feel enabled to speak up, take calculated risks and be more involved in team interactions, resulting in higher performance, productivity, thinking out of the box, and ultimately, business success.
In order for high performance Teams or high risk projects to be successful most of the time, every member has to develop complete trust in one another and that is hard. It means having to shed their egos (yes women too have egos!) and be open and honest. And being vulnerable is never a safe feeling.
"Speaking up is only the first step. The true test is how leaders respond when people actually do speak up. Stage setting and inviting participation indeed build psychological safety. But if a boss responds with anger or disdain as soon as someone steps forward to speak up about a problem, the safety will quickly evaporate. A productive response must be appreciative, respectful, and offer a path forward.”
Is this the atmosphere at your workplace?
Instilling a productive and safer environment
Is a psychologically safe workplace free from conflicts and stress?
Bear in mind working in a psychologically safe workplace does not equate to having zero work problems or issues. It is not about having perfect harmony and agreement among your co-workers all the time and it is not about being nice to avoid difficult conversations when the situation calls for such a need.
Psychological safety is about developing a climate possible for productive disagreement and free exchange of ideas, in which speaking up is enabled in a respectful manner across every team and between employees and leaders, without being punished.
This is worth building in any organisation especially when learning, knowledge sharing and innovation are crucial for a company’s success.
How Engaging Leaders can help to foster a psychologically safe environment for your employees
Engaging Leaders can help by working hand in hand with leaders to establish this foundation of trust and safety among their teams with a science behind our methodology, where we cultivate small focus groups of trust and collaboration. Ultimately, this brings employees out of their vulnerability slowly to start knowledge sharing and learning across peers, strengthening human connections with one another, thus forming an open and agile mindset which is ready for challenges.
Adopting this culture into your organisation could reap bountiful Business outcomes such as:
A culture of trust and a psychologically safe workplace helps build mentally positive attitudes and healthy emotions which will lead to sustainability for employees to flourish even during this pandemic era.
Make this a priority - lead with trust and build up psychological safety in your teams today and watch how it transforms your teams into higher performing individuals who innovate your organisation from within.
To conclude, here is an episode from Culture Matters, featuring 2 reputable practitioners in their fields sharing about Psychological Safety and the impact on leading remote teams.
Engaging Leaders helps organisations to activate their people and begin thriving in every aspect of their employee journey. Find out more about our approach here.
Monica Tan, email@example.com
Monica Tan, Engaging Leaders, leads our clients through a journey of performance and change. With more than 15 years of client and project management experience, she serves as a key advisor to our clients.