Psychological safety is the bedrock of a high-performing team. It’s more than just trust; it’s about fostering a climate of mutual trust and respect. Building psychological safety at work is not a one-time event, but a continuous process that requires conscious effort and commitment. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and be themselves without fear of judgment or punishment. It’s about creating a culture of openness, transparency, and inclusivity.
In this article, we’ll explore four key strategies to employ when building psychological safety at work. These strategies include admitting weaknesses as a leader, asking for feedback regularly, celebrating failures, and amplifying unheard voices. By implementing these strategies, you can contribute to a cycle of psychological safety that leads to higher performance.
Admitting weaknesses as a leader is a powerful way to demonstrate trust and inspire trust in return. It shows that you are human, vulnerable, and authentic. Leaders are not perfect, and admitting weaknesses is a way of acknowledging this fact. It sends a message to your team that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you value honesty and authenticity over perfection.
When leaders admit their weaknesses, it encourages team members to trust and respect them more. It creates a culture where people feel safe to admit their own weaknesses and mistakes, fostering a climate of mutual trust and respect. So, don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability. It’s a strength, not a weakness.
Ask for Feedback
Asking for feedback regularly is another effective strategy to build psychological safety. It shows that you are open to criticism and eager to improve. By regularly asking for feedback, you can understand how to better serve your team as a leader and meet their needs.
Don’t just ask for feedback, though. Ask specific questions to get constructive feedback. This will show your team that you value their input and are committed to improving. Applying the feedback you receive not only helps you grow as a leader but also builds trust and encourages open and honest conversations within your team.
Failures are often seen as something to be avoided at all costs. But in reality, failures are opportunities for growth and learning. By celebrating failures, you promote transparency and emphasize the value of learning from mistakes. Discussing failures and what can be learned from them creates a culture where people are not afraid to take risks and make mistakes.
When you celebrate failures, you send a clear message to your team that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to try something new and not succeed. What’s important is that we learn from our failures and use them as stepping stones to success. This fosters a climate of psychological safety where people feel safe to take risks and innovate.
Amplify Unheard Voices
On any team, there are voices that are not heard often. These could be individuals who are introverted, less confident, or simply overlooked. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to identify these voices and actively seek their input. This not only makes them feel valued and included but also brings diverse perspectives to the table, leading to better decision-making and problem-solving.
Amplifying unheard voices is about creating an inclusive team environment where everyone’s ideas are considered and valued. It’s about recognizing and valuing the unique contributions that each team member brings to the table. By amplifying unheard voices, you foster a culture of inclusivity and mutual respect, which is key to building psychological safety.
Building psychological safety at work is crucial for high performance. It’s about building trust and respect, which contribute to a climate of safety. By admitting weaknesses as a leader, asking for feedback regularly, celebrating failures, and amplifying unheard voices, you can foster that climate on your team. This will lead to higher performance, better team dynamics, and a more positive and inclusive work environment—one that helps everyone do their best work ever.
About the author
David Burkus is an organizational psychologist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of five books on leadership and teamwork.