Over the course of my working life inside organizations, I often had the opportunity to be a member of a team. And as a result, I quickly came to recognize familiar team pain points (if you’ve ever been part of a team, you these may resonate for you too):
-too much or too little communication,
-not enough trust,
-the challenge in valuing diversity (of opinions, strengths, values),
-the ongoing quest to align around shared focus & mission, etc.
Getting the team-thing right is a tricky challenge with no simple silver bullet of a solution.
Turns out that Google was also seized with this challenge and in 2012 embarked on an initiative to study hundreds of teams inside their organization to learn what made some stumble and others soar. The main finding was that a team’s dynamics are more important than the talents of the individuals that make it up in determining a team’s performance. And of the 250 team-dynamics identified, psychological safety was by far the most important one.
And what you may be asking yourself is psychological safety all about? Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor defines psychological safety as an environment where all employees can feel safe to speak up without fear of being embarrassed or rejected. It’s a team climate characterized by trust and mutual respect where people can be themselves. Google found that when teams have psychological safety in place, team members are more likely to own up to their mistakes, be better partners to colleagues, open to diverse ideas and are less likely to leave the organization.
Wow, doesn’t this sound amazing? As I reflect on these findings, I get it now. I get how come so many of the teams that I have been a part of over the years have struggled to gel, to synergize and to operate in that effortless space where we were not limited by the “perfectionistic/get it right the first time” mentality.
Are you curious about the state of Psychological Safety that exists in your team? Reflecting on the following questions may be a good place to start:
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions than there may be some room to improve the psychological safety on the teams you work in.
So, the next time you think about putting together the annual team building retreat or off-site, you may want to ask yourself if the time, effort and resources would be better spent taking stock of the state of psychological safety that exists on your team. Tune in to my next blog where I explore some ways to create psychological safety for yourself and others.
Oh, now I get it!
Have you ever found yourself having one of those Oh-now-I-get-it-moments? They just seem to kind of happen, and then you realize, “oh…so this is what all the fuss was about, I get it now.” It’s like you finally tap into this deep wisdom that’s been lurking under your nose all along, but that you’ve just been unable to see. It’s a combination of the obvious with a dash of Oprah-level “aha”. In this blog, I will be sharing some of my experiences with these kinds of moments as they show up in my life on a pretty regular basis! Enjoy!