The idea of “psychological safety at work” is not new, but it has become one of the industry’s mottoes in recent years. Several studies make it increasingly apparent that psychological well-being is crucial for team performance, commitment, competitiveness, retention, and general satisfaction.
What do we mean by this expression? How does psychological safety at work look? And why is it so important, precisely?
As a project manager, I would like to dig a little deeper into the subject to help my fellow professionals get insights that we tend to miss around it.
Psychological safety, according to Edmondson, represents an atmosphere of emotional confidence and mutual respect within the workspaces. It ensures that workers feel emotionally safe as they express thoughts and share ideas, take chances and share feedback at work.
What is psychological safety at work?
If you look back into history, you’ll find that in 1999, Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson invented the word ‘psychological safety.’ However, William A. Khan described the idea for the first time about a decade ago, the work of which was already a significant part of Edmondson’s thesis.
In 2015, an overview of the critical facets of constructing a competitive team was released by Google for two years. The results were not based on intellectual and ambitious workers but on methodical, precise employees who made no mistake. The study found instead that psychological safety is the main factor.
The teams that committed more errors were found to be more competitive, as Google mentioned and cited Edmondson’s work for it. But in practice, those teams who didn’t make errors were free to make them. They did not have an acute sense of discomfort if anyone was messing up, and they would not take away their mistake or clean it fast until anyone noticed.
How does psychological safety look?
It is at the heart of the work culture. It broadly means that you feel secure enough to take chances, to express and add thoughts without fear or concern. If you want to remain creative, risk-taking is necessary. But it should not be just a surface aspect; it must be scraped under the surface, and the definition must be even more profound.
Psychological safety at work also ensures that you have trust, esteem, and appreciation as an individual. It means to know that your bosses care for your well-being. It requires understanding the consistency of your results based on truthful input and understanding of your feedback management.
Keeping this in perspective, during the PMP certification exam prep, we encourage the employee’s self-esteem to skill up their morality for work.
You have to know that your thoughts matter to feel physically comfortable at work. Gallup research in 2017 reveals that only 3 out of 10 staff in the U.S. believed their views counted. However, by double the quota, six out of ten workers thought their beliefs were essential, businesses could see sales reduction of 27%, protection events of 40%, and a total output of 12%.
These results are supported by Google’s Aristotle project, which showed that workers who belonged to high-level mental safety teams would be less likely to resign, would generate more revenues, be considered more efficient, and be more likely to develop diverse and innovative ideas by collaborating with their colleagues effectively.
Source: Google Aristotle Project
The Importance of Psychological Safety at Work
The principle of security transcends an exchange of views or direct input. There is also safety at the workplace; that doesn’t sound like going on eggshells. It means understanding that your employer has your back and would be obliged to adapt to anything that affects your working well-being. It is about understanding that if issues happen, you have to speak to people, choose to spend time or be flexible if you like. That also implies accountability – incoordination, as well as the financial success of the firm.
At work, we must understand that we are human beings, not robots. To become successful, we must listen to each other. We must be sensitive to the thoughts and needs of others. Until that, you won’t know like you should speak freely. You will not succeed; feel excited about taking chances or experimenting. You can’t put yourself entirely in your job if you retain part of yourself. Psychological safety and wellness encourage trust and transparency. It establishes links and promotes creativity. It can take a while, as in something worth it, but the benefits are priceless.
Do your employees or team members feel psychologically safe?
It is easy for particular workers to know if there are problems with psychology safety at work. You are not mentally secure if you feel unable to voice a concept for fear of ridicule. If you are concerned about exchanging truthful opinions with the boss so they should not get defensive. You deliberately resist taking possession of the workplace to prevent fingertips and guilt.
However, it cannot be too easy for project managers to recognize psychological security problems. It’s a catch-22 most days – those who don’t feel mentally secure will express fear of reprisal. Instead, search for psychological safety manifestations at work.
Here are a few factors project managers can take care of:
- Are staff involved, share thoughts and raise questions during the ideation meetings?
- If goals are not achieved, do you have more initiative than blame for addressing reasons and solutions?
- Does the staff know how to treat it as a critical critique and not as a personal attack when an adverse reaction occurs?
- Does employee feedback have several outlets open, including an alternative for anonymous feedback?
How can project managers foster psychological safety at work?
Actively Encouraging Feedback
The always pursuing upward input from top management to individual team leaders expresses honesty, willingness to recognize possible involvement, failures, and responsiveness to other viewpoints.
But it is essential to learn how to embrace feedback before inviting employee feedback. It is imperative when criticized so that you can’t shoot down viewpoints or take defenses. Here at the PMP certification exam prep, we take care of the essential feedbacks from the learners. It helps improve the facilities and develop better structures.
Establishing Communication within the Relationship
Establishing rules for interaction provides us with a framework for shared views and constructive feedback while upholding fundamental values such as respect and empathy. Another way to hold healthy conversations focused on the controversy is to use a dialogue template like respectful disputes.
Building a Working Cultural Environment
Replacing responsibility does not mean replacing transparency – administrators still recognize that a person’s behavior is an issue. The key is not about who will do what, why (it has happened), and precisely what has happened; the focus must be put on the fact, “do we learn from it.”
Constructing a cultural curiosity toward guilt decreases defensive spontaneity and allows people to raise their questions, as we do here in the PMP certification exam prep boot camps. The belief in taking different types of questions and trying to resolve them with the best suitable answers remains a constant effort.
Regularly Measuring the Psychological Safety
Only when you create a basis for it and track your improvement would you determine if you progressed. It also constitutes an express part of the HR initiative by measuring psychological security, which gives it weight and indicates the enterprise’s value.
Similarly, psychological wellness at work is not about indulging the staff – it is about making them free from tension, so they believe that explicit talk leads to better results.
The PMP online certification involves a workplace that has challenges. It takes steps to prevent unjust retribution to employees. It builds networks or processes which promote open, positive, and respectful contact. It will not affect the business growth by implementing innovative processes and introducing new technology.
Promoting work-related psychological security is essential to creativity, work-freedom, promotion, and eventual growth of the organization.
Yada is not just the leader of the Project Management Training Institute (PMTI). He helped to write significant portions of the project management standards worldwide. He is helping PMI right now in reviewing, directing, and leading the development of the 7th edition of the PMBOK(r) Guide to incorporate the most monumental changes to project management standards in 35 years. He shares his wisdom with readers via the PMTI blog.