This edition of Sparked was published and delivered on May 26th, 2023.

Sparked is Fired Up! Culture’s bi-weekly email newsletter focused on what drives culture and engagement in the workplace. This newsletter is for leaders who are ready to get intentional about bringing their team together, building engagement, and harnessing the power of culture to drive results.

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Engage your Team by Building Psychological Safety

First, let’s start with a definition of “psychological safety” so we’re all on the same page.

We define psychological safety as “the feeling or belief that one’s questions, thoughts, ideas, or mistakes won’t be punished or written off when surfaced.”
The feeling of psychological safety ebbs and flows for everyone based on the context and environment they find themselves in.
Group norms build or diminish psychological safety. How we bring ourselves to each one-on-one relationship we hold builds or erodes psychological safety for the person on the other end.
What does it look like when a group or member of your team lacks psychological safety?
  • They hold back ideas
  • They don’t surface concerns
  • They don’t ask questions
  • They avoid healthy conflict
  • They stress at higher rates
  • They turnover and resign at higher rates
Teams and individuals who have psychological safety throughout their work environments and relationships are happier, healthier, and more productive.
Who doesn’t want that?

Take Action to Build Psychological Safety

How can leaders proactively work to build psychological safety? Start here:
  • Openly Own What you Don’t Know: Here’s an opportunity to be humble in front of your team members and show them that no one is perfect. Unfortunately, many leaders avoid openly sharing their deficiencies, missteps, and errors. If you want your team to feel comfortable sharing, start by setting the example and showing that perfection is not the expectation.
  • Solicit Feedback and Receive it Well: Psychological safety builds when people trust that feedback can be given and taken in healthy, productive ways. Ask for feedback from your team members. When you receive it, acknowledge it. Thank them for it. Consider it. And work to improve when warranted. There’s a theme here: set the example you want others to follow.
  • Encourage Healthy Conflict: Healthy conflict in the work environment is such a positive thing. Healthy conflict encourages folks to share their thoughts, opinions, and reasoning without reprimand. Healthy conflict squashes groupthink. Trust and psychological safety builds when healthy conflict is encouraged and executed well. 
  • Celebrate Failure: Failure happens. Pick and choose the spots to celebrate it. Look for lessons learned. Look for chances to improve for the next opportunity. Failure should spur the iteration and innovation required for success the next time around.

Delivering Better Outcomes

Why does fostering psychological safety matter?

Well, aside from being a good human and creating an environment where team members feel comfortable, organizations that deliver higher levels of psychological safety:

  • are more innovative
  • are more resilient through change
  • retain top talent at a higher rate
  • attract better talent at a higher rate

And when those outcomes trend in the right direction, the bottom-line outcomes tend to trend in the same direction.

Further Exploration on Psychological Safety