Do you feel you have a voice at work? Within your sports team? Or even when you’re communicating with a group of friends? Commonly in our modern lives we encounter situations where we are encouraged to contribute to the performance enhancement of a group of people or an organisation, we are employed by in order to facilitate learning and improvement. However, as outlined in the research, we normally feel that voicing an opinion carries a with it a certain level of risk. Instead of perceiving collaboration and organisational experimentation as processes of discovery and development, some social interactions leave us feeling vulnerable and in-turn inhibit our ability to demonstrate the desired behaviours and practices necessary for learning.
With the potential of going against the grain in order to benefit an organisation, a sports team or social group, new approaches to doing things that have always been completed in a certain way typically put the vested comforts of others in jeopardy. With this never-ending conflict of interests and inherent power struggle that inevitably ensues when change is elicited, individuals fear the unsuccessful implementation of novel methods as it would only embolden apprehensions held by others that had objected to the change in the first place.
As a result, there is growing evidence to indicate that such risks may lead employees not to contribute to learning processes, and thereby inhibit both individual and organizational learning. The provision of a psychologically safe work environment. Such an atmosphere would look to overcome such threats to individual and organizational learning by enabling people to feel safe when voicing ideas, be willing to seek feedback, provide honest feedback themselves, collaborate with others, take risks and experiment.
JUST ASK GOOGLE!
In a study conducted by Google’s People Analytics Unit, psychological safety was seen as the single most important characteristic of a successful high-performance team, whether that be in business, sport or friendship group. Interestingly, psychologically safety is especially important in work environments where employee and customer safety are paramount, such as the healthcare or aviation industries, as it has been shown to be critical in reducing employee errors and enhancing safety and has been shown to increase team and individual learning across multiple organizations. Given how important a psychologically safe working environment is to organisations, their employees and their individuals, why don’t we know more about this critical element to high-performance?
WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY & WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
As Amy Edmondson said, psychological safety “is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes." Take a look at how Amy explains this phenomenon in detail here.