Creating a healthy environment

Much has been made of the work Google have done on teams showing how Psychological Safety is the most dominant factor of performance.

Wikipedia states Psychological Safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. It can be defined as “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career” (Kahn 1990, p. 708). In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected.

Many teams have asked what can be practically done to create these conditions. Today’s post isn’t going to deal with all of the ins and outs as there are elements that come from culture and the system of work which aren’t always in the team’s control.

However, there are some practical things that can be done within a team. The first is to make being supportive, helpful and encouraging the social norm. Any behaviors within a team that go against this need to be challenged. You may have come across an interesting video by IKEA on the difference between an environment of encouragement versus one that focuses on the negatives. I don’t know the basis of the scientific research, but it’s thought provoking nonetheless.

The second is to become comfortable reviewing, debating and discussing goals. The more clarity that can exist the more productive every team member can be. The third is to learn to give and receive good feedback. If the first and second items are being done well then the team knows that any feedback is in the spirit of improvement and working towards the goal.


Are you doing all you can to create an environment that builds your colleagues up?

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