An organization can be compared to building a house. To have a strong standing structure, you need a solid foundation. Without it, you have cracks, leading to an unstable building and at its worst, a crumbling house!
How do we convince people to trust or follow us as leaders? It boils down to the foundation you set, which begins with psychological safety.
“Psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. At work, it’s a shared expectation held by members of a team that teammates will not embarrass, reject, or punish them for sharing ideas, taking risks, or soliciting feedback.” Center for Creative Leadership
In a nutshell, psychological safety is a precursor to a high-performing and healthy organization. When we focus on building a psychologically safe environment, we see team members feel safe and empowered to share their ideas, challenge the status quo, take risks, tackle tough issues, ask lots of questions, model curiosity, innovate and adapt quickly.
Our role as leaders, including emerging and seasoned leaders, is to foster psychological safety within our teams and organizations. The million-dollar question is how?
BE INCLUSIVE AND ACCEPTING
Every human on this planet needs to feel like they belong, knowing they are entirely accepted and embraced with open arms by those around them. So how do you show up as a leader in building relationships with those around you?
Question to ask yourself: Does every team member feel like they belong to the group and your organization?
To us, FAIL stands for ‘first attempt at learning.’ Humans need to continually learn and grow, knowing that mistakes constitute a big part of learnings in life and at work. So how do you show up as a leader supporting and guiding continual growth? Better yet, how do you show up as a leader when those around you make errors?
Question to ask yourself: Do your team members feel like they are learning and growing without fear of repercussions when they make mistakes?
The strongest leaders know that the best ideas are often not ours. We are surrounded by talent, and our question is, why waste it? Leadership should not be seen as a solo activity. We can garner the most creative ideas from those we hire; ultimately, our team members want to feel like they can share their thoughts. So how do you show up as a leader when brainstorming, putting forward ideas, or decision making? Are you inviting others to the table?
Question to ask yourself: Do your team members feel like they have an opportunity to voice their ideas and concerns openly?
ENCOURAGE THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
Nothing screams louder than silence in our teams. When we step into organizations that say, ‘We’ve always done it this way!’ we know that innovation is stifled. To truly compete and stand out from our competitors, we need to be adaptable and flexible in how we think and approach business. What we once did may not be (and is rarely) the BEST way of doing it today. So, how do you show up as a leader when you are presented with a new idea that is outside of the box? Are you quick to shut it down?
Question to ask yourself: Do your team members feel like they can raise their hand and challenge ‘we’ve always done it this way’?
Psychological safety is not a buzzword concept!
“26% of workers felt psychologically safe during the pandemic and experienced higher levels of burnout, stress and greater feelings of loneliness” Workhuman
“Only two-fifths of (Canadian) employees [polled] feel they regularly get support to grow and develop” Mental Health Research Canada
The benefits of strengthening psychological safety within your organizations can reap the following benefits:
Reduction in turnover
Increased job satisfaction
And higher profitability!
Remember, a house cannot be built on its own. It requires skillful execution, time and dedication, flexibility, creativity, preparedness, and a willingness to exercise patience in laying a brick at a time, day after day.
As leaders, our daily actions, and the consistency of those actions, will determine what kind of home you build in your workplace. So to build your “dream home,” look for those small changes to build the foundation and create an environment where people choose to stay!