Picture this: you’re in a meeting, and you have a great idea. But before you can even start speaking, you hear someone say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” How do you feel? Chances are, you feel deflated, discouraged, and perhaps even a little embarrassed. This type of interaction is not only hurtful, it’s also toxic to the work environment and can lead to decreased morale, decreased productivity, and increased turnover. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Creating psychological safety in the workplace is about creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions, without fear of judgment or retaliation. Sounds like a tall order, right? But the good news is, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Here are a few tips to get started.
What is psychological safety?
Psychological safety is the cornerstone of a happy and productive workplace. It’s the feeling that you can be yourself, express your opinions and ideas, and ask questions without fear of judgment or retaliation. When people feel psychologically safe at work, they’re more likely to speak up, share their thoughts, and contribute to the conversation. And when everyone feels heard and valued, amazing things can happen. Psychological safety is all about creating a workplace where everyone feels comfortable, supported, and respected. And who wouldn’t want that?
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8 tips for creating psychological safety in the workplace
1. Encourage active listening
Active listening is all about really paying attention to what someone is saying, and showing that you’re interested in their ideas. This can be as simple as making eye contact, nodding your head, and asking follow-up questions. When people feel like they’re being heard, they’re more likely to speak up and contribute to the conversation.
2. Lead by example
Leaders and managers have the power to set the tone for the entire organization. If you want to create a psychologically safe workplace, it’s important to lead by example. This means showing respect for your colleagues, avoiding negative or dismissive language, and encouraging everyone to contribute to the conversation.
3. Provide opportunities for feedback
Feedback is a critical component of psychological safety. It gives people the chance to reflect on their behavior, learn from their mistakes, and grow as individuals. Encourage regular check-ins, performance evaluations, and open-door policies to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to provide and receive feedback in a supportive environment.
4. Foster a culture of trust
Trust is the foundation of psychological safety. When people feel like they can trust their colleagues and leaders, they’re more likely to speak up and share their ideas. To build trust in your workplace, start by being transparent about your intentions and decisions, and by holding yourself accountable for your actions.
5. Embrace diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are key drivers of psychological safety, as they help to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected. Encourage diversity of thought, background, and experience, and create opportunities for people from different backgrounds to collaborate and share their perspectives. Not sure where to start? Try including diversity in your internal communications. It goes a lot further than you’d think.
6. Make time for fun
It’s important to remember that work shouldn’t be something that’s dreaded — it should be enjoyable. When people have fun at work, they’re more likely to feel connected to their colleagues and to feel invested in the success of the organization. Encourage your team to take breaks, have some fun, and build meaningful relationships with one another.
Try one of these 34 team-building ideas perfect for remote teams.
7. Encourage open communication
Open communication is critical to creating a psychologically safe workplace. Encourage your team to speak up, share their ideas, and ask questions. When people feel like they can freely express their opinions, they’re more likely to contribute to the conversation, and to feel more engaged and invested in their work. One magic tool for facilitating open communication is video.
8. Harness the power of video
Video communication is a powerful tool for creating psychological safety in your workplace — especially within remote and hybrid teams. Video provides a level of personal connection that’s difficult to replicate with just audio or text. It allows people to see each other’s expressions and body language, and to feel more connected to their colleagues, even when working remotely.
Encourage and recognize colleagues with praise videos, prioritize knowledge sharing with an explainer video, or keep your team in the loop with a weekly update video.
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Creating psychological safety in the workplace is not only good for your employees, it’s also good for business. When people feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their ideas, they’re more likely to be productive, engaged, and invested in the success of the organization.
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