Last Updated on
A high “psychological safety” workplace is characterized by a climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people feel comfortable being themselves to make mistakes or take risks in their work.
Having drawn statistical importance at scale from Google’s Aristotle Project. (this is one of the most important research projects on team performance ever conducted), which took two years of perseverant study, analyzing more than 180 teams to identify the defining characteristics of world-class teams. The validations of this research driven experiment are far reaching & nudging the frontiers of behavioral science to new horizons. Also see, What Google learned from it’s quest to build perfect team featured on NY Times.
The research concluded with high statistical importance of 5 attributes, found common across all high performing teams: Psychological Safety, Dependability, Structure & Clarity, Meaning of work, Impact of work. Of these 5, the single most important characteristic of a high-performance team is psychological safety. Other factors contribute as well, but this factor–the belief that it’s safe to take interpersonal risks–is the linchpin variable and nothing less than an absolute fundamental to get the team forward to meaningful progress & success. Psychological safety is more than just a feel-good term to stimulate employee engagement. It’s a critical component of high-performing teams (see The Brew’s recipe for building high performance organizations)
Why Psychological Safety has become an absolute essential for high performance teams ??
Workplaces with high psychological safety have an inherent competitive advantage, as compared to workplaces with a low score one ? A high psychological safety releases discretionary effort; whereas low psychological safety freezes it. Research unequivocally indicates that psychological safety leads to both career and business impact. Thus, when we measure high levels of psychological safety in an organization, it becomes a strong predictor of overall performance.
If psychological safety is low, we can predict with a high degree of accuracy that employee engagement will be low and attrition will be high. If, on the other hand, it’s high, we can predict high engagement, performance, innovation, and retention. When people honestly believe they can speak up, challenge the status quo, and take measured risks, the magic begins!
Get The Brew Advantage to build High Psychological Safety
Drawing inspirations from eminent research & validated literature so far, we help measure psychological safety for organizations / teams, across 4 levels – all of which are critical contributors to the overall psychological safety index: Learning Safety, Challenging Safety, Collaboration Safety, Inclusivity Safety.
Learning Safety (click to expand)
Learning Safety reflects an employee’s belief that it is safe to engage in all aspects of knowledge discovery process including asking questions, trying new things, and learning from mistakes. A low learner safety, and employees are less likely to venture out, scraping from superficial to fundamentals, finding answers to their questions. Learning safety fosters a willingness to learn something new, attack a thorny problem, or look for a new opportunity or breakthrough.
Challenging Safety (click to expand)
Challenging Safety is based on perceived permission to challenge status quo (an absolute essential for teams driving innovation, high performance, creativity etc) which grants employees immunity from repercussion or reprisal. If challenger safety is high, employees are more likely to speak up because of the perceived license to disagree. If an employee feels a low degree of challenger safety, he or she will likely avoid saying anything that might be potentially threatening to those in positions of authority.
Collaboration Safety (click to expand)
Collaboration Safety reflects mutual access and social engagement. where employees feel safe to work with their colleagues in a free and unconstrained way at any time, characterized by state of open dialogue, constructive debate & feedback across team
Inclusivity Safety (click to expand)
Inclusivity Safety reflects the sense of mutual respect, is agnostic to a person’s title, position, authority, or background. A high inclusion safety reflects that one is valued, listened to, and treated fairly. Although fragile & highly sensitive, inclusion safety is created and sustained through consistent, affirming touch points with co-workers.
Based on our accumulated client experience with high performance organizations, we continue to see the direct connection between psychological safety and performance. The relationship between these two variables is so undeniable that organizations will be far less likely to sustain competitive advantage in the21st century if they do not maintain a threshold level of psychological safety.
Take The Brew’s Psychological Safety Index to ascertain deep insights into drivers of high performance for your organization.