Believe it or not, it has been two years since the first lockdowns began to spread across the United States and the world. As we continue to put time between ourselves and the trauma of March 2020, I’ve been reflecting on some of the lessons I learned along the way.
One of those lessons involves something that may have been overlooked before such a devastating crisis: safety and security.
Safety in a corporate environment has gained an entirely new meaning over the last few years. Instead of focusing solely on physical safety by investing in security systems and training on procedures for certain events, business owners now must take safety one step further and think about how to make sure their staff feels safe.
If you’re a business owner or even a leader within your company, you’ve probably faced this challenge, especially lately. Maybe you’ve been creating a back-to-office plan, and many of your employees are hesitant to leave their work-from-home spaces. Take this article in Inc. for example. Now more than ever, there seems to be a disconnect between employees and management, and the way I see it, this is directly correlated to how employees feel about safety and security.
This concept, which Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmonson calls “psychological safety,” has become increasingly more prominent amongst workers, which makes it that much more important for business owners to consider safety when making decisions for their staff members.
Let’s dive into what factors play into psychological safety and how you can magnify it as you develop your business in the coming weeks, months, and years.
One of the core pillars of psychological safety is a level of open communication between team members and leadership. In fact, creating an environment where team members feel comfortable asking questions or approaching leadership members is crucial.
You may be wondering how to start the process of creating an environment of open communication at your company, so I want to give you a quick exercise to help you brainstorm ideas. Answer the questions below to get started:
1. How can you avoid confusion amongst team members?
Confusion is a quick way to close communication. When team members are frequently confused, they may be unsure who to ask for help or what questions to ask in the first place. One way we clear confusion at my business is to create clear work instructions for tasks and inform team members who they can go to for questions about a specific task.
2. How can you make leadership more accessible to your team members?
Sometimes, our entry-level team members feel uncomfortable going to the leadership team to ask questions or address concerns. One way to address this might be to have 15-minute coffee breaks between leadership and entry-level team members to create connections between them. That way, the entry-level team members will feel that much more comfortable communicating with leadership, and they’ll feel psychologically safe in the workplace.
3. What questions can you ask your team members?
When team members feel valued by leadership, open communication increases. Asking your team members questions is a great way to build trust and develop their psychological safety.
In addition to open communication, company culture is another area of focus that can contribute to that overall feeling of psychological safety.
Positive Company Culture
“Company culture” is a buzzword we’ve all heard hundreds of times over the years. Have you ever wondered what it actually is and how you can create it with your company’s resources?
To begin, take a look at your mission and value statements. Usually, your mission and values pertain to your customers and clients. Ask yourself how you can ensure your mission and values encompass how your team is treated as well.
For example, at my company, one of my values is conscious communications. This means that my company is mindful of the words we use with our customers and clients. To take that one step further, my company also uses conscious communications internally. This means we ensure the people on our team are heard, understood, and spoken to with respect.
If you want more quick tips about cultivating positive company culture, download my FREE onboarding and retention guide here.
Ultimately, company culture is your ticket to creating psychological safety. When your team members feel welcomed at work because of the culture, they’re that much more likely to feel comfortable and supported, which contributes majorly to that feeling of security.
Internal Professional Development
If you’ve read my blog posts before, then you probably knew I would bring this up. If you’re new here, then I want to say, “Hi, I’m Mary Shores, and I’m a huge believer in professional development in all levels of business.”
You may be wondering what professional development has to do with psychological safety. The way I see it, psychological safety and professional development go hand-in-hand in multiple ways.
First and foremost, the world of business is constantly changing, and at times, it can feel overwhelming to keep up. If an employee feels like they aren’t learning enough in their position to stay on top of new trends and technology, they may feel insecure and scared. On the flip side, if you’re investing in your employees’ development, they’ll feel secure in their career growth, which will inevitably contribute to their psychological safety.
Next, professional development empowers employees to take on new tasks without feeling overwhelmed. When we allow our employees to train on new concepts and grow their skills, they’ll eventually be able to move up in the company or absorb tasks they couldn’t do when they first started. This will create a culture of satisfaction that will add to the overall psychological safety of your team.
If you want a quick and easy professional development opportunity for your team members, check out my online course The Communication Code for Customer Service. This course will give your team members a communication deep dive that will improve all of their professional relationships via the power of connection. Check out more information on the course here.
After reading this blog post, do you feel one step closer to creating psychological safety in 2022 and beyond? I hope you do. For more tips and tricks in the future, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter. As a special bonus, my newsletter subscribers will be the first to know when my TEDx Talk is live on YouTube.