28 Apr Building a Culture of Psychological Safety: Fostering Trust and Respect in the Workplace
In the wake of several high-profile workplace scandals, businesses are placing greater emphasis on creating a psychologically safe workplace. Forbes offers insights on why the most successful leaders prioritize psychological safety.
Psychological safety is defined as the feeling of being able to speak up, take risks, and express oneself without fear of retribution or negative consequences. This type of environment fosters open communication, encourages employees to share their ideas and feedback, and promotes collaboration.
Both global mobility specialists and company leaders need to prioritize psychological safety to create a work environment that encourages employees to be their best selves, take risks, and learn from their mistakes.
More engaged, more likely to perform at a high level
Research has shown that employees who feel psychologically safe are more engaged, more likely to stay with their employer, and more likely to perform at a high level.
The Journal of Applied Psychology reported that employees who feel psychologically safe are more likely to engage in proactive behaviors, such as seeking out feedback, making suggestions for improvement, and taking on new challenges.
Creating a psychologically safe workplace is not an easy feat. It requires leaders to be intentional about building a culture of trust, respect, and openness. One way to do this is by promoting psychological safety through team-building activities and training sessions.
In an article published by Harvard Business Review, researchers found that psychological safety is the foundation of high-performing teams. When employees feel safe to speak up and share their ideas, they are more likely to take risks and innovate.
Psychological safety is not just about feeling comfortable at work; it is also about creating a culture of accountability and responsibility.
Leaders must hold themselves and their employees accountable for their actions and decisions, and they must be willing to admit their mistakes and learn from them.
What are the tell-tale signs that your organization has it?
These are HBR’s key indicators of a psychologically safe workplace, where employees feel free to be themselves, speak up, and take risks without fear of negative consequences. If employees can answer “yes” to these statements, it may suggest that their workplace is one where psychological safety mechanisms are present and effective.
Mistakes are not held against you: In a psychologically safe workplace, employees are not afraid to make mistakes because they know they will not be punished or criticized for them. Instead, they are encouraged to learn from their mistakes and use them as opportunities for growth.
Problems can be brought up: A workplace where psychological safety is present is one where employees feel comfortable discussing problems and tough issues. They know they will be listened to and their concerns will be taken seriously.
Diversity is accepted: In a psychologically safe workplace, employees feel accepted for who they are, regardless of their differences. This means that they feel comfortable expressing their unique perspectives and ideas without fear of being judged or discriminated against.
Taking risks is safe: A psychologically safe workplace is one where employees feel safe taking risks and trying new things. They know that if they fail, they will not be punished, and they will be supported in their efforts to learn and grow.
Asking for help is easy: In a psychologically safe workplace, employees feel comfortable asking for help and support when they need it. They know that their colleagues will be there for them and will not judge them for needing assistance.
No one undermines efforts: In a psychologically safe workplace, employees feel confident that their colleagues will not intentionally act in ways that undermine their efforts or goals. Instead, they feel supported and encouraged to work together towards shared objectives.
Unique skills are valued: In a psychologically safe workplace, employees feel that their unique skills and talents are recognized and valued. They are given opportunities to use these skills and contribute to the success of the organization in meaningful ways.
Four stages of psychological safety
For the Predictive Index, there are four stages of psychological safety that organizations go through as they build a culture of trust and respect.
The first stage is inclusion. Inclusion is about creating a sense of belonging among employees and making sure that everyone feels valued and respected. This can be achieved by promoting diversity and inclusivity, creating a culture that embraces differences, and providing opportunities for everyone to contribute and participate.
The second stage is learner safety. In learner safety, employees feel safe to ask questions, experiment, and take risks. Leaders promote a culture of learning and growth, where employees are encouraged to try new things and learn from their mistakes. This stage is essential for fostering innovation and creativity in the workplace.
The third stage is contributor safety. In contributor safety, employees feel safe to speak up, share their ideas and perspectives, and challenge the status quo. Leaders promote a culture of openness, where feedback and input are valued and respected. This stage is essential for creating a culture of trust and respect, where differences are embraced and employees feel comfortable expressing themselves.
The fourth stage is challenger safety. In challenger safety, employees feel safe to challenge authority, push back against ideas, and advocate for change. Leaders promote a culture of accountability and responsibility, where everyone is held accountable for their actions and decisions. This stage is essential for creating a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.
Psychological safety is a critical element of a positive and healthy work environment that fosters innovation, growth, and wellbeing.
Global mobility specialists can play a key role in helping organizations create a psychologically safe workplace. By understanding the unique needs and challenges of employees working in different regions and cultures, they can help leaders develop strategies that promote psychological safety and build high-performing teams.