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Diversity and Inclusion

4 top tips to build psychological safety in your workplace

Psychological safety is about not being afraid to make a mistake and is predicated on the principles of learning from your errors, recognising no one is perfect, and being solution-oriented. To start living these principles, you need to first admit as a leader that you’re not infallible.

In short, it is how comfortable individuals are with taking risks and being vulnerable with their team. It’s both a climate and a shared belief which lays the foundation for every member of your team to bring their whole selves to work and be truly inclusive and innovative.

🤔 How does psychological safety actually feel?
Here are some real-world anecdotes:

“I don’t feel like I always have to have all the answers in meetings… it’s OK to admit I don’t know.”

“It’s never easy, but I give feedback to my boss and my peers when I spot something important they could improve.”

“When I make a mistake, I’m not berated or blamed for it. I know my boss will always give me the benefit of the doubt and work through how to fix it together.”

So how can you increase psychological safety in your own team? Try incorporating the below 4 top tips into your organization’s behavior from today.

4 top tips to build psychological safety in your workplace

🙌 Be vulnerable, be human (it starts with you!)

  • Show that it’s OK to talk about emotions by sharing yours
  • Openly share your views, even when you suspect they may be unpopular
  • Admit to your own mistakes and failures, and frame these as learnings
  • Be humble and ask for feedback, and reach out for help or guidance

🏗️ Actively build a safe environment

  • Practice active listening and encourage it in others on your team
  • Stop people from interrupting others in meetings
  • Make yourself available for quick chats and ad hoc meetings
  • When you spot it, publicly praise others for being candid or giving feedback
  • Make an effort to get to know about your teammates’ outside-of-work lives
  • Step in if you hear a teammate talking negatively about another teammate
  • Make an effort to draw out views from introverted members of your team

🛑 Reframe failure

  • Reframe failure as an inevitable bump along the road towards success, and an opportunity to learn
  • Destigmatise failure by talking about it openly with the team when things go wrong rather than burying it
  • Ban blame (not always easy if you’re angry!) – instead react to mistakes by getting curious. Ask your teammate what they think went wrong, what they think needs to happen next, how you can best support to fix it.

🗣️ Destigmatise feedback

  • Regularly ask for feedback yourself from your team
  • Share basic guidelines for how to give feedback with your team
  • Talk to your team about the importance of feedback, reframing it as guidance
  • Encourage your team to give each other feedback as a way to learn and grow

Psychological safety matters because it leads to healthier, more productive, and more inclusive teams. Where there’s psychological safety, there’s a sense of dependability in one another, role clarity, and intrinsic motivation to work hard.

If you create a sense of psychological safety in your own team starting now, you can expect to see higher levels of engagement, increased motivation to tackle difficult problems, more learning and development opportunities, and better performance.

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📺 Watch this (12 mins)

Watch to learn how to build a psychologically safe workplace in the words of Amy Edmondson.

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Want to learn how you can build a more inclusive workplace? Check out our insights, articles, guides and more on the Resources section of our website.

4 top tips to build psychological safety in your workplace

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Fiona Young (she/her)

Having previously led Learning and Development for 3,000 people at Europe’s leading venture builder, Blenheim Chalcot, Fiona knows a thing or two about how to build high performance culture. As Content Director at Hive Learning, Fiona pioneered the organisation's leading guided content programmes which are designed to turn learning into action. Most recently, Fiona led the inception, development and delivery of Inclusion Works by Hive Learning - the world’s first diversity and inclusion programme focused on turning unconscious bias into conscious action - created from over 1,000 leading sources.