3 tips to start building a safe team environment
In one of our previous posts, we learned that psychological safety in teams has a lot of benefits for teams and organizations. Employee engagement is being boosted, team innovation improves, members are allowed to learn from their mistakes and so on. This mainly because members feel safe in making mistakes, voicing their opinions, and sharing ideas. We received some questions about team leaders and coaches who would like to get started, but are not sure how. Below we will share some tips & tricks that work well with our teams. You don't need to start doing them all at once. Start with one, see how it goes, reflect on it and adapt where necessary. Treat others how they would like to be treated Ever since we were little children, we were taught that we "should treat others like we would like to be treated ourselves." However, when creating a safe team environment, "treat others how they would like to be treated" seems like a better option.
Become aware of your assumptions with regards to your leadership style, start empathizing with your team members and learn what they need in terms of feedback, communication, coaching, face-to-faces etc. Team members will feel seen, heard, and respected, which will help in making them feel safer.
Dare to be vulnerable
As Brené Brown once said “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”
Making mistakes is scary, certainly in an environment where you feel pressured to deliver value. However, making mistakes and learning from them is also crucial for innovation. As a leader you can lead by example and show your team members that it is okay to make mistakes, to celebrate it even! By showing that even you make mistakes and fail from time to time, you will install a new culture of boldness, vulnerability, and innovation. This will eventually lead to more interpersonal empathy within the team. It's a win-win! So what are you waiting for to start with a "fail of the week" contest? Feedback, feedback, feedback!
Feedback is a gift and most importantly: it has no hierarchy! Try giving feedback when you can, and be sure to be specific, constructive and appreciative when doing so. However, we've all seen that giving feedback doesn't always have the outcome that we would have wanted. Some people get defensive, which will make them less receptive to new ideas. That is why it is important to start seperating feedback from evaluation, which will make your feedback more about personal development. (Evaluation is about judgement, where value is being put on what you delivered. Feedback's aim is to provide information about someone's learnings or skills, so that future learning goals can be planned.)
Nonetheless, it is not only about modelling on how to give feedback, but also about being open to receiving feedback. As a leader, you should proactively ask for feedback! This will show your blind spots when working with people, model mistakes as something positive, and will show vulnerability towards your team. All perfect ingredients for building a safe team environment and creating an open feedback culture. Interested in learning more? Don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like to have a chat with us about what a safer team environment could mean for your teams!