How Leaders Can Create Psychological Safety In The Workplace

How Leaders Can Create Psychological Safety In The Workplace

sarah a blog

As a leader it is your job to attract talent, retain great employees, and maximize an employee’s potential. But is that possible without an environment where your employees feel Psychologically Safe? Psychological Safety is getting a lot of air time these days, but what does it mean, how can organizations create it, and lastly how do we know if we have it?

Wikipedia defines Psychological safety as “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”.

How do you know if your organization promotes Psychological Safety?

As a leader do you receive information too late? Are your employees afraid to divulge details in fear of getting reprimanded? Do you have a culture that supports the motto, “Fail fast and fail often?”, and if not, is this because you are tied to a culture of hierarchy where it is more about command and control?  Let’s pretend for a minute an employee has just come to you and admits they’ve made a mistake and sent out an email without taking the time to word it correctly, and now there are a lot of angry responses from individuals. What if your response to that employee was, “Well that’s okay Steve, I pay you to make mistakes, did you learn from this?” Do you think Steve feels supported by this response? I believe he would, and I believe he would be more likely to come to you faster the next time he makes a mistake. Failing fast and often is OKAY if we can learn from our mistakes.  Risk is required in order to grow and develop.

High levels of growth and development do not happen until an employee feels Psychologically Safe. Psychological Safety needs to be developed from the top down, starting with leadership. Leadership is the mouth of the river, and if there is contamination, it will flow downstream. At the DAVIS Companies, we have created and implemented Flight School for our management team, which includes a curriculum designed to teach and coach our leaders on technical and soft skills which promote and encourage an environment of Psychologically Safety. During Q3 of this year, Flight School focused on topics to help build communication efforts, one topic being “How to Hold an Effective One on One”. Some leaders are naturally great at building authentic relationships, but some managers struggle with this soft skill. The topic of effective one on ones created an opportunity for managers to talk through their struggles and gain additional insight from their peers. After each Flight School lesson, participants break into smaller groups and talk about their takeaways from the lessons and have additional open dialects. It is also a great opportunity for managers in remote offices to stay connected.

So what are other ways to create Psychologically Safety in the workplace?

Interpersonal bonds outside the scope of work, aka TEAM building activities. At DAVIS, we hold company sponsored lunches every Friday, it is a time for colleagues to come together and build additional relationships with peers.

It’s a great time to talk about plans for the upcoming weekend and share little pieces of themselves. To continue building these relationships with our colleagues our CCO team will create and sponsor events like field day, first Fridays, cook offs and other fun events that bring all of us together. During the last three years we have implemented quarterly managers meetings to bring managers in remote offices together to discuss wins, losses, challenges and opportunities for the upcoming months.  Our newest initiative is to introduce a Sales Summit for our sales representatives to come together and talk through ideas and best practices for continued success. At DAVIS our mission is to help our employees become the best versions of themselves so they can achieve their goals and dreams, we achieve this by creating and maintaining a space where employees feel Psychologically Safe.


Per the Blog post “15Five ”

How Leaders Can Create Psychological Safety In The Workplace[Audio Blog] Retrieved from

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