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Psychological safety at work

Psychological safety at work

There’s a trend in the corporate world where it’s easier to point others or blame circumstances when it comes to talking about our challenges. Admitting mistakes openly with colleagues or managers is not a common practice, mainly because of the fear of being criticized, blamed or even fired.

This collective behaviour, known as Psychological Danger, translates into a lack of failure culture, a culture afraid of trying, where transparent, healthy and efficient communication don’t usually succeed.  In consequence, the health of the working environment is hugely affected, limiting creativity and innovation.

On the contrary, Psychological safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. It can be defined as “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career”.

At The Failure Institute, we have a series of online webinars where our enterprise team members share the insights gathered from bringing vulnerable conversations to hundreds of companies around the world. In a webinar focused on psychological safety we opened the mic to our clients.

These are the four best practices they shared:

Authenticity results in empathy.

We’ve seen that vulnerability steps in as a game-changer in order to create deeper connections which result in higher empathy and more efficient and transparent communication. We often forget we’re human beings working with human beings in our working environments.

An open communication about complicated situations can result in pivots avoiding irreversible failures.

We need to build spaces of psychological safety where one can feel comfortable admitting mistakes or sharing different points of view and concerns about a project or decision. This dramatically reduces the rate of the so-called impostor syndrome among employees and managers, a very common symptom in traditional corporate cultures.

Taking accountability of our own decisions allows continuous learning.

It’s really hard to learn from our experiences if we cannot admit we did something wrong or that we could have done it better. This allows us to grow professionally and lead by example.

Defeating ego is a crucial step towards building solutions.

We’re too used to talking up our results and brushing over our mistakes. Being conscious of our imperfections and challenges allows us to set the ground for more creative and strategical decision making.

Do you think your workspace lacks some of these characteristics? Do you think there’s a chance to improve how people feel about taking risks and sharing learnings?

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