Psychological Safety – helping teams to work well together

Do the teams in your organisation work well together?  Or is there a lack or trust and culture of fear?

Today’s high-performing teams need to be able to foster collaborative relationships so they can work on complex business issues and deliver results. Often projects require cross-functional collaboration, or even working with external stakeholders in a partnership approach.  Creating effective teams is not just about putting people with a complementary set of skills together, giving them a clear outcome and then keeping your fingers crossed that they will get on well together.

What makes a good team?

In 2012, Google put together a research team to study hundreds of their work teams to identify why some were more successful than others. After studying over 100 teams for more than a year, researchers from Project Aristotle, as it was known, concluded that there were two characteristics that stood out as to what made a good team.

1 – Every takes a turn to talk

Team members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’  As long as everyone gets a chance to talk and no one person hogs the conversation.

2 – Psychological safety

Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines this as a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ Psychological safety means that team members have a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.

Further reading from HBR and New York Times magazine and article I wrote in the Guardian

Three ways to develop psychological safety

  1. When you engage with a team member or colleague, even if you find them difficult or challenging at times, think of something positive about them. That will cause your body physiology to change and you are more likely to engage with them in a more open manner.
  2. Ask a question to discover something that you don’t already know about your colleagues to demonstrate curiosity and interest.
  3. Use a reflection technique before meetings just like Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google does to encourage individuals to see their colleagues as other human beings. Consider the following:
  • This person has, beliefs, perspectives and opinions, just like me
  • This person has hopes, anxieties and vulnerabilities, just like me
  • This person has friends, family and perhaps children who love them, just like me
  • This person wants to feel respected, appreciated and competent, just like me
  • This person, wishes for peace, joy and happiness, just like me.

If you can begin to create a sense of psychological safety in your own team, it can bring increased motivation, greater contribution and more enjoyment.

Find out more about our programme on how to build psychological safety and trust in teams

This programme helps leaders to understand how to create psychological safety, and trust in teams, or with colleagues and stakeholders.  Learn how our brain influences our behaviour, the five steps to building trust, and how to approach conflict like a collaborator, not an adversary.

Really good course, excellent balance of content, activities and discussion. Excellent trainer. Good atmosphere.  Attendee from healthcare company

Contact Sue Stockdale to discuss this programme by calling + 44 (0)7780 670664 or by email.

Other programmes available from Sue Stockdale include:

All of our programmes can be delivered either face to face, via 1-1 coaching, or as a virtual programme in modules using the latest video technology.  Contact Sue Stockdale now to find out more. Tel + 44 (0)7780 670664.



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