The Performance Encouraged by a Psychologically Safe Workplace

5 mins read

This article is on 5 performance traits that will be encouraged in a psychologically safe workplace:

    • Authenticity
    • Conflict Resolution
    • Collaboration
    • Innovation
    • Initiative

What makes a great team? This is a question many business owners have wondered, explored, and experimented with to try and find an answer. Google performed a 2 year study on what makes a great team, called ‘Project Aristotle’ in tribute to Aristotle’s quote: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Unsurprisingly, psychological safety showed up as #1 on their list of 5 key aspects that make great teams successful. So, the question that remains is what will you encourage in providing a psychologically safe workplace? This is a very important question that we will answer below.

If you would like more information on psychological safety and who coined this term, see our article What is Psychological Safety in the Workplace.

What Performance Will a Psychologically Safe Workplace Encourage?

Here is the exciting part – the performance you can expect to see from employees when a psychologically safe workplace is present! These are some of the behaviours and actions that employees may demonstrate when they feel they are in a trusting work environment:

1. Authenticity

A psychologically safe workplace is one where employees know that they can be themselves without humiliation or punishment. I don’t know about you, but that to me is the exact definition of authenticity – getting to express your true self without pressure to be otherwise! With an authentic employee performing, their engagement will improve which will lead to increased motivation and job satisfaction. Beyond the self-improvements, being authentic will also lead to stronger interpersonal relationships.

2. Conflict Resolution

Along with stronger interpersonal relationships comes increased interpersonal risk taking. Interpersonal risk taking involves confronting differences with others in a way that leads to learning and positive change, which is basically using problem solving skills when there is conflict between people. Increased interpersonal risk-taking means more possibilities for solutions and less long-term problems!

3. Collaboration

Fostering a psychologically safe work environment for employees allows them to work with others without the fear of being judged or punished. This freedom increases the desire and willingness to collaborate and share. If people feel safe enough to be themselves, they will also encourage others to be themselves. Employees going out of their way to include others truly demonstrates that they feel they are in a psychologically safe environment.

4. Innovation

When psychological safety is present, and employees feel supported in their environment, they are more willing to take risks and share their ideas. Without those ideas, innovation and change grinds to a halt. The trick here is that employees need to be able to share the ideas that don’t make the cut without feeling they’re are being cut down. This supports open honest communication and allows people to safely share their fresh ideas.

5. Initiative

If employees feel safe, psychologically it gives them more confidence in themselves as they are comfortable sharing their ideas, experiences, and mistakes without fear of being judged or disciplined for who they are as a person. This increased confidence leads to more initiative, which is stepping up to do something that you can see needs to be done, without someone needing to ask. Initiative demonstrates personal motivation, self-drive, self-awareness, and insight – all of which can be game changing habits in the workplace.

Safety for Success

Ultimately, this safety can be achieved by providing a space for employees to be their entire selves, however, this is more easily said than done and can be quite difficult if you are not committed to psychological safety first. The performance traits explained above have hopefully helped you on your way to understanding and appreciating the importance of psychological safety in the workplace. Above all, we hope reading this has allowed you to consider the safety status of your workplace environment. Here is our final question to leave you with: are your employees comfortable and trusting enough to be themselves in your workplace environment?

Interested in some tips to promote psychological safety in your workplace? Check back for our 3 part series coming out “Tips for Building Psychological Safety in Your Workplace”.

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