The term psychological safety has gained a lot of traction of late.
According to Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, psychological safety refers to an environment where people feel able to express themselves without fear.
When introducing new hires to your team, because it encourages them to open up and offer ideas. Ideas that may have more merit than they realise. Establishing psychological safety isn’t just a matter of following a few easy steps though. Real human hearts and minds are at stake. But there are some key things you can do to create psychological safety in your team, here are a few of them.
New hires generally walk in the door raring to go, full of ideas and questions. As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that their ideas and questions are not ignored or ridiculed by the more established team members. You can do this by keeping the lines of communication open with your team. Establish a policy to check-in from time to time and welcome input from day one as well. First impressions count and if you want your new hire to stay, then make it a good one.
Make yourself available to the team
As their leader, your team looks to you for guidance, direction and support. As much as people say they want autonomy, they also like to know they are on the right track. Check in and make sure they’re okay. And remember that being their leader is your first responsibility. Having an open door policy is the best way to ensure you’re there for your team when they need you.
Make follow through and follow up priorities
Relationships are built on communication. Your relationships with your team members shouldn’t be any different. No one will feel comfortable if their shared ideas are met with no response. Therefore, make sure that if a team member sends through an idea to you, you follow up with them. Likewise, if you make a promise, make sure you follow through with it to avoid the feeling that you’re all talk.
It’s not always possible to let your newest hires take risks. But if you can provide that experience in a controlled setting, do it. The more freedom for risk-taking that results in encouragement, not rejection, the better. Moreover, the courage to take risks should be part of your workplace culture. It should also be viewed as part of an on-going commitment to developing talent.
When employees feel psychologically safe at work, they’re much more likely to stay and want to be an engaged member of your team. They’re also more likely to do better and are less likely to suffer from burnout down the track. But the key to integrating psychological safety into your workplace culture is to normalise it. That means making the effort to ensure it’s not just a fad but a team ethos.
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