The words ‘Psychologic safety’ are used pretty frequently, when it comes to organisations and the people within it, but the meaning behind those two words, can be easily lost and disregarded when not put into practice.
It is very easy to say that psychological safety is a priority within an organisation, but how much evidence is there of that?
Psychological safety begins very early on in our lifetime, I am sure we can all remember that time in school, where we were brave enough to put our hands up to answer a question, only to get it wrong, hear the sniggers in the classroom from classmates and decide at that point (consciously and sub-consciously) that we will never do that again, for fear of feeling stupid and being laughed at! (Unsafe!)
To me, the words ‘Psychological safety’ translate to – ‘I am entrusting you with my mental wellbeing, in the hope that you see the value, and keep it safe’
Of course, mental wellbeing has different interpretations to each individual, but essentially, “mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises their own potential, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.” (*mind.org.uk)
For example, how often are you asking your team/peers/leadership for feedback, non-anonymously, and not only thanking them for it but also acting upon it? And how frequently do you and/or team admit mistakes, and find a better way of working as a result?
Psychological safety isn’t about agreeing through gritted teeth because you know there’s repercussions to disagreeing, and being left with a feeling of suppression, and resentfulness. It is about creating safe spaces for open, honest, and respectful dialogue, where constructive and effective conflict is embraced and it is ultimately, where those involved, walk away, feeling heard and valued, even if the discussion didn’t go their way.
In order to create a thriving, courageous, People first culture, (which leads to increased performance and success), we must place psychological safety as a priority. Leaders that adopt it with passionate intent, will build a workplace that maintains and attracts the right talent, every time.
How ‘safe’ do you believe your people are feeling, right now?
What ways are you intentionally creating a psychologically safe environment?
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