How Can Leaders Create a Psychologically Safe Workplace
When managing or leading a team, the mental wellbeing of the team ought to be a forefronted priority in order to encourage productivity. Most employees spend the majority of their day actioning tasks to do with their career so making their space as psychologically safe as possible is your responsibility as a leader.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for a different style of working and may have been the source of much anxiety as people are mainly working from home. The uncertainty of the current situation or potentially another transitional period for your business means that the mental wellbeing of your staff is more important than ever.
(Image Source: NHS employers)
What is psychological safety?
Psychological safety is the notion that new ideas and concerns expressed in the workplace will be met with humiliation and punishment, which in turn will lead to the downfall of wellbeing for an employee. Creating a space that is safe to make mistakes and upskill in a healthy manner, will not only result in a better performing team but will reduce the contribution that work can play on a person’s mental health.
With hybrid working and working from home now being a prominent way of operating, establishing an open space for communication will allow your team to feel safe and able to come to you with any problems. The importance of psychological safety will give you, as a leader, a valuable understanding of the best ways that your teamwork and what types of working structures work the best and which ones are not well received.
When it comes to establishing psychological safety, analysing your leadership style is a must. By doing so, you will be able to adjust your response technique to various problems and issues accordingly. Managing your team, even when remote working is not just about outlining the tasks to do for the day, but having awareness of your response style and how you can better aid your team.
You can begin to outline your response style by taking a test about your personality style and what you are inclined to do in certain situations. Thai in turn will allow you to address any unconscious bias you may have when it comes to certain people presenting certain ideas and make you a more open-minded leader in the long run.
Actively soliciting questions to your team as a leader is a great way to start a gateway of communication and think about the needs of your team in a more individualised way. This is important when it comes to personal development reviews or just general one to one conversations whether this is over video call or in an office environment. For example, if you have an understanding that the time before a personal video call causes a team member anxiety, perhaps briefly outlining what the call will be about will reduce the anxiety of waiting for your team member. A simple solution and an individualised way to cater for that employee’s needs.
Create a Safe Environment for Ideas
Showing appreciation for new ideas and concepts is a great way to encourage more open discussions and input from your team members. Establishing set times dedicated to new ideas and a forum for discussion can give your team the opportunity to voice things that have worked well and things that they have found would work even better. Creating a safe space for discussion and ideas will contribute to a psychologically safe space at work.
It is human nature to make mistakes, and being open and honest about the mistakes that you made can create an open and safe environment for your employees to do the same. By opening the floor up to dialogue can help outline what your team is struggling with and upskill in a quicker and more effective way. Encouraging asking questions and making the most of team expertise is a great way to make your team feel comfortable when discussing their performance. Not only are you being open about your situation, but also become a catalyst for your employees to healthily evaluate their own performance in a constructive way and not be anxious about judgement from you as a leader.
Having a psychologically safe space, whether that be remote, hybrid or in the office is becoming more and more of a necessity for employees, so ensuring that you create one is important. By encouraging open, judgement-free and honest communication can result in a productive and communicative team environment. It is important to evaluate the needs of your employees and recognise how you work and respond in order to create a psychologically safe environment. Adapting to both the digital and physical needs of your team will simply be a plus for your company.