Psychological safety

Psychological safety

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  – Aristotle

Unfortunately, in many teams and organisations great teamwork can be elusive (or non-existent). Over many years experts have tried to define the key characteristics of high-performing teams. There are some common items:

• Shared purpose in a compelling direction focused on the external

• Interdependent roles and shared responsibility supported by organisational structure

• Measured performance goals that assess team not individual

In Google’s Project Aristotle, they studied what made teams great. Even when teams didn’t necessarily have ‘stars’, there was one thing that made a group of people into a great team: psychological safety. An environment that places great emphasis on respect and trust, and removes fear of punishment, rejection and embarrassment. The teams that performed best were the ones who made these behaviours the social ‘norm’.

It can be hard to look at specific individuals (or even yourself) and how behaviours get in the way of creating a safe environment, but it’s worth it to figure out if there are any unwanted norms in your team. What elements are stopping your team being as great as they could be? Figure out how to discuss them as a group – remember to be respectful.

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