Why Psychological Safety in the Workplace Should Be on Your Radar

As a business coach for more than 25 years, I have helped thousands of business owners grow their businesses. And one of the ways we do that is by helping them create safe, nurturing spaces in which their team members can grow and develop. For many leaders, psychological safety is an idea they may not have ever really thought of. But once they start putting different ideas and protocols into place, they immediately see the value in making it a priority for their businesses. So today I want to talk about why psychological safety in the workplace should be on your radar, and how you can harness it to help your team grow.

It Gives Them Permission to Take a Chance

At its core, psychological safety in the workplace gives your employees permission to take a chance. It answers the questions:

  • “What happens if I make a mistake and something goes wrong here in my company?”
  • “Can I make a human mistake and be given the space to learn from that, or am I going to suffer some negative penalty?”
  •  “Are my boss or co-workers going to yell, stare, or think poorly of me or treat me differently?”
  • “Or might it even jeopardize my job, my role, and my opportunities in the future?”

As a leader, you make mistakes. That’s a given. But you know that at the end of the day, your place in the company is secure. Your team members, however, may not feel the same. And if they don’t, that can really limit the amount of growth that both your business and your leadership team are capable of.

So create a company culture that has a basic and fundamental rule that when a mistake happens, we don’t place blame, we just look for solutions. It allows your team to take risks that could ultimately be worth it in the long run. And psychological safety and balancing the voices within your team are two extraordinarily important elements of managing effectively.

Don’t Be Afraid to Admit to Your Mistakes

So how, as a leader, can you start implementing a culture that focuses on psychological safety? The first step is admitting your mistakes when they occur. Maybe you missed a deadline, or you put money toward a marketing effort that ultimately didn’t pan out. It’s OK to admit that to your team. Because seeing that you, too, are a human goes a long way to helping others on the team feel connected. If they see you admitting your mistakes, they will be more likely to do the same in the future should they see an area that needs improvement. And how you address a mistake as a group is the other part of the puzzle:

“So, we missed the mark on the marketing campaign. That happens. We honestly should have done a smaller test run of the concept before devoting a large marketing budget toward the effort. In the future, I think this is how we should handle experiential marketing efforts. Does anyone else have any ideas on how we can do things differently next time?”

It’s that simple. And once you’ve gone through this exercise half a dozen times, you will find that you and your team will automatically start thinking in terms of “next time” as a default response.