Fostering Psychological Safety in the Workplace

Yesterday I partipated for the first time as a panellist in a Twitter chat. It was a fast-paced and enjoyable hour, organised by Fellow app. I enjoyed hearing the perspectives and advice fron the other panellists. Rather than leave my answers scattered across the Internet, I thought that I’d gather them together in one place and also include some answers I particularly appreciated from other panellists too.

Q1. Introduce yourself! Tell us a bit about your background, your career journey, or anything else you’d like us to know.

Q2. The term psychological safety is described by Amy Edmondson as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.”
What does psychological safety mean to you?

Q3. According to Mckinsey, team leaders have the strongest influence on a team’s psychological safety. What behaviours or habits should leaders demonstrate to promote a positive and empowering culture?

I wrote about practical ways leaders can foster an inclusive environment here.

Q4. The CEO of Shopify, Tobi Lutke, has shared the concept of having a trust battery between you and your employer to gauge how your relationship is. What are other ways managers can measure the level of psychological safety in their team?

Q5. Danielle Leong shared that psychological safety means having two opposing ideas being heard and respected.
How can managers handle (and encourage) opposing points of view during team meetings?

Teams that trust each other are not afraid to engage in passionate dialogue around issues and decisions that are key to the organization’s success. They do not hesitate to disagree with, challenge, and question one another, all in the spirit of finding the best answers, discovering the truth, and making great decisions.”

But encouraging opposing points of view during team meetings is not easy or natural for many people. I have written about how I overcame my own fear of conflict and shared some practical tools to help teams move away from consensus.

Q6. It’s important to know what an insecure workplace may look like. What are some signs managers and leaders should look out for that can signal a psychologically UNsafe workplace?

Q7. Women report lower psychological safety than men, according to Graeme Cowan. As a result, men feel safer taking risks at work, and women are worried that mistakes will be held against them.
How can organizations encourage risk-taking and failing?

Q8. Final question! Let’s talk about building safety around feedback.
How can managers provide constructive feedback in a way that is not taken as criticism by their employees?

Fellow app’s write up of the panel discussion is here: What is Psychological Safety? (FAQ with Management Experts)

Senior Director @ElsevierConnect doing product strategy implementation & performance. Mainly writing about getting from A to B, & digital stuff. Personal acc’t.