Psychological safety

Psychological safety is a necessary condition for great ideas and innovations to emerge. It is also the manager’s responsibility to cultivate it. Instead of thinking about your team, think about students in a classroom. If a teacher asks “any questions?” and there is a risk of punishment, being ignored, or being ridiculed for speaking up, which students will raise their hands? Alternatively, a teacher who has established that asking questions is part of the normal course of learning will be able to draw out voices that largely go unheard. Encouraging and rewarding questions is even better methodology because asking questions is a first step toward articulating innovative problem-solving. 

Psychological safety is a necessary condition for retention as well. Knowing that it is safe to bring up issues related to how one is experiencing work means the manager will be clued in a lot faster to issues that could otherwise lead to someone quitting. 


Manager action/reflection: How do you respond when someone suggests an idea that you don’t agree with, like, or value? How do you respond when someone complains to you? How do you react when someone asks a question you think is basic? Instead of reacting quickly, try one of these responses: “Tell me more,” “I’m trying to understand what’s behind your question,” “I appreciate this, can you elaborate?”

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