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Remote Team Builder

5 tips – How to develop psychological safety in the workplace?

Dare to give negative feedback publicly. Encourage your colleagues to speak up in meetings. Ask what’s up with their dog. Each of us can increase psychological safety in the workplace through our own actions. We picked 5 tips on how it happens in practice!

(If you are not familiar with the term, start by reading our blog: What Is Psychological Safety?)

1. Ask for opinions and encourage participation

Each of us has been in meetings where one speaks, and the others listen. And yes, sometimes there is a need to just transfer the information.  In those cases, the model where one speaks, and the other listens work fine. However, if the goal is to utilize the opinions, thoughts, and knowledge of the participants, it is important to get them to speak. Numerous studies show that teams where people dare to share their opinions, thoughts, and ideas without fear of shame or belittling just perform better.

Be the one who both participates yourself and encourages other team members to participate. This is especially emphasized in remote and hybrid teams, where participants should be actively asked to participate so that everyone’s involved.  

2. Ask for and give feedback, including negative feedback

Processing feedback together is a great way to improve the group’s performance.  Many have heard the mantra “Give positive feedback in a group, negative feedback privately”. However, by acting this way, we lose a huge opportunity for development. If mistakes are not discussed openly in a team, they will only be known to a small circle. In this case, non-participants cannot learn anything from each other mistakes either. In the worst case, they will make mistakes in the future that could have been avoided with the help of previous experiences.

It’s not that mistakes shouldn’t be made. Nobody’s perfect. The best teams learn from mistakes and people are open to learning and changing their behavior so that they work better next time in a similar situation.

Both the giver and receiver of the feedback must understand that the purpose of the feedback is to develop joint activities. When mistakes happen, avoid blaming and punishing. When there is an open and understanding atmosphere in the group, even more, unpleasant things can be talked about because everyone knows that the goal is the development of the activity, not personal insults. In a psychologically safe environment, you don’t have to avoid conflicts, but that doesn’t justify bad behavior either. So be interested in other people’s thoughts, ask for feedback, and listen. This is not always the easiest or the most comfortable way, but in the long run, it is the only way to develop and improve.

3. Remember to say THANK YOU!

Each of us has a need to experience success and feel like an important part of the group. Even if we appreciate each other’s work, we almost always don’t say it out loud. By thanking your colleague, you show that you have noticed good work and that you appreciate it. Feelings of appreciation and fairness are also essential in preventing burnout, so by thanking you, you also ensure that the people in your team feel better. Remember that you can be thankful for even the smallest things!

4. Be yourself and value diversity

At the heart of psychological safety is the courage to be yourself without fear of belittlement or embarrassment. You’ve been hired for the job as you, so the best thing you can do is to be you. The same applies to your colleagues. Although some qualities in collegues may annoy you, think about how boring and fruitless it would be if everyone was the same. When a person feels that he is valued as a person, he/she also performs his work better. NOTE! This does not mean that you can justify your bad behavior by “being yourself”.

5. Get to know your colleagues

How well do you know your co-workers? The better you know, the better you understand their ways of working, their strengths and weaknesses. It is easier to be open, share thoughts and to open yourself up with the people you know. Knowing each other creates the basis for trust, which is a key element in a psychological safety. This is why we often do a “coworker’s user manual” exercise in our RTB workshops. In it, everyone gets to think about what things are important to them in communication and getting feedback. While creating this, you will learn many interesting things from your colleagues. Isn’t it interesting that almost everything else in the workplace has instruction manuals (that no one reads), except co-workers, who are more complicated than anything else?

I hope these tips are helpful to you. If you want to talk more about how you can promote psychological safety in your workplace, send us a message, and let’s talk!