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Psychological safety, the key to great teamwork ?

Have you ever been in a meeting where no one dared to admit mistakes, challenge the status-quo, share their ideas, or people simply went along with what their superior said?

You are not alone! I am sure we have all experienced professional or personal settings where we (or others) didn't dare to voice our opinions or ask questions.

Why do we keep quiet when we often have an opinion or ideas to share with others? It all has to do with self-protection: no one wants to come over to others as ignorant, intrusive, incompetent, or negative. We'd rather be seen as someone smart, positive, and considerate. This way of managing others' impressions is often something that we started doing as early as in primary school where we didn't want to be labelled as "stupid" when asking questions or making mistakes.

Imagine what would be possible if making mistakes and asking questions would be considered as part of the learning and growing process, and both kids and adults would feel safe doing so?

Amy Edmondson from Harvard Business School was among one of the first to study the concept of what made certain teams more effective than others. What she found was somewhat contradictory: the most effective teams were those who were making the most mistakes. Edmondson discovered that in those teams there was a climate of openness where mistakes were actively being reported and discussed as a way to learn and grow. In other words, in these team environments every team member felt safe to openly discuss mistakes and be vulnerable in front of each other.

That's when first arose the concept of psychological safety in the workplace "The belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes."

Every time we don't speak up about things that make us feel uncomfortable, we retain ourselves and others from small moments of learning. This makes innovating and coming up with new ideas more difficult! Today, more than ever, we need people to bring their full self to their challenging jobs. Uncertainty and interdependence in this rapidly changing world requires us to start asking questions, sharing ideas and talking about mistakes. It matters!

Let's start building teams where people feel psychologically safe to bounce ideas off each other, strengthen action plans, help solve issues, provide support to each other, and thus reach their full potential!

Next time we will share 3 tips on how you can lead by example!

Interested in starting to build psychological safety within your team? Don't hesitate to contact us through our contact page for more info!


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