Psychological safety = no stress, no hiding, no censoring, no code-switching

We all have the right to feel safe! William Kahn, Google’s ‘Aristotle Project’ and Amy Edmondson’s research have catapulted the term Psychological Safety into our consciousness. It is now being talked about in workplaces around the world – and rightly so!

Psychological Safety in the workplace means that every single person in an organisation (be that one or two people or two hundred thousand people) is able to bring their whole self to work. No stress, no hiding, no censoring, no code-switching.

So, for starters, can I take this opportunity to ask: What are you doing as a business founder, SME business leader, startup entrepreneur to ensure you and your staff, including outsourced, temporary, and part-time supporters, feel psychologically safe?

When you have a psychologically safe environment and people feel safe to bring their whole self to work, people communicate and collaborate effectively, and a culture of curiosity and creativity is cultivated. You have happier, healthier, and more engaged employees, which increases innovation, productivity, and turnover!

There are five key areas that leaders and organisations need to address to ensure everyone can bring their whole self into the workplace and feel safe to do so. I refer to them as ‘The Five Pillars of Psychological Safety’ and below, I will introduce you to each of them and pose questions for you to ponder yourself and also share and ask amongst your team.

The five Pillars Of Psychological Safety

Pillar One

SELF – The Authentic Self Process underpins Pillar 1.

The Authentic Self Process is an extraordinarily powerful three step system that empowers you to bring all of who you are to work and life. The Authentic Self Process begins by raising your awareness of what affects your performance and behaviour at work. With this awareness, you release and reprogramme anything that is negatively impacting on you in the workplace, such as your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. With renewed perspective, you learn and apply personal leadership strategies to achieve your personal and professional goals, increase your resilience and unlock your untapped potential.  This results in you thriving at work and feeling safe and comfortable to bring your whole self into the workplace.

Questions you ponder and can ask yourself – Do you manage emotions when they arise? Do you manage the thoughts you have that affect your performance and behaviour at work? Are you aware of the things that trigger negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviours for you at work and strive to manage these effectively? Do you actively work on changing the way you think about your past experiences? Do you know and manage how your conditioning and expectations impact on relationships, teamwork, and decisions at work? Do you take responsibility for your behaviour, actions and how they impact on other people at work? Do you communicate and assert your personal boundaries at work, when necessary?

Pillar Two

Social – social centres around communication.

There are three areas that directly influence and impact on successful communication. These are referred to as The Communication Cycle:

  1. Communicating your message
  2. Receiving a message
  3. The exchange

Questions you can ask yourself/ your team – What influences how you respond and react in conversations? Do you express your feelings, needs and concerns with your line manager/team? Do you strive to deliver clear messages when you communicate? Do you practise active, non-judgemental listening? Do you recognise and interpret non-verbal cues in conversations? Do you ask questions to clarify? Do you deal with miscommunications and misunderstandings promptly? Do you strive to stay present when communicating with others?

Pillar Three

Collaboration – collaboration is all about creating an environment where everyone in the team can thrive.

Questions you can ask yourself/ your team – Do you regularly clarify your objectives and how they fit into the goals and vision? Do know your team’s ground rules and assert these rules when necessary? Do you apply the agreed conflict resolution strategy, when needed? Do you communicate the expectations you have of team members? In meetings and project work, do you contribute fully – answering questions, offering thoughts, and contributing ideas/solutions? Do you communicate with the team at agreed times, to update on projects and progress against team goals?

Pillar Four

Curiosity – creating a culture of experimentation, contribution, and reflective questioning – a great way to do this is by hosting curiosity sessions.

Questions you can ask yourself/ your team – Do you ask for and give constructive feedback? Do you proactively share your knowledge, expertise, and experience? Do you discuss the things that haven’t worked, errors and mistakes? Do you actively engage in personal and professional development?

Pillar Five

Creativity – A great way to create a culture where new ideas and alternative perspectives are welcomed is by introducing creativity workshops where everyone actively contributes, bringing unique ideas from your personal experience, skillset, and expertise.

Questions you can ask yourself/ your team – Do you actively look for solutions to problems experienced within the team? Are you proactive in implementing a solution?

These five pillars are the foundations and building blocks that I am using around the world to create fully inclusive workplaces. In essence, they cultivate an environment where people thrive.