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If You Want an Invincible Team, Make Them Feel Safe

If You Want an Invincible Team, Make Them Feel Safe

If you are a team leader, it is possible you may have come across one or more of the following problems:

  • Members of your team rarely attend meetings, and if they do seem to be uninspired or lacking in energy. This can render meeting utterly useless.
  • You may find that your team has trouble coming up with any new, interesting, or alternative ideas or solutions. There may be a real lack of critical thinking in your team.
    This can kill productivity.
  • During meetings or discussions, some members may remain quiet, or if they do speak may allude to there being a problem somewhere,but never specify what it is.
    This may mean serious issues in your team may go unresolved, massively affecting the functioning of your team.
  • If you want to see if your team agrees to something, you might feel that some are merely agreeing for the sake of agreement. This could be a real problem as these people might have great ideas.

Any one of these can prove extremely problematic, more than one of these can be potentially disastrous.

All is not lost however, these issues, and more, often stem from the same issue, and with that issue identified, it can be resolved.
The issue is this, the team suffers from a lack of Psychological safety.

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What is psychological safety?

    Psychological safety is the (often shared) belief that the team is an environment where it is safe to take risks. To share ideas and speak openly without fear of criticism or ridicule.

    Years ago, Google began Project Aristotle,[1] a project to determine how to engineer the most effective team possible. Google spent years studying 180 different teams in detail. Their research was so detailed that they even kept track of how often the team members ate together. In this project Google learned a great deal about how effective teams function. One thing that they noticed, is that key to almost all successful teams, is that they were environments of psychological safety.

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    As each team member felt free to contribute and speak up, they became hotbeds of ideas, team members were much less likely to leave, and ultimately, were more successful. All because of psychological safety.

    Benefits of psychological safety

      The key benefit of psychological safety is that it fosters and encourages collaboration and interaction in the team.

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      It can often be difficult to tell at first if an idea you have is any good. Someone may have a fantastic idea but might not speak up about it out of fear that they will be embarrassed. If your team is in an environment that people feel comfortable to speak freely in, they will naturally begin to produce ideas. Some ideas will be better than others of course (but even bad ones may be improved in an effective team). Ten bad or mediocre ideas are better than no ideas at all.

      In psychologically safe teams, people won’t fear making mistakes so much, and with this, even if they make mistakes, they’ll be more likely to learn from them, increasing their future effectiveness.

      Consider brainstorming, (or even improv comedy!), the reason why it’s so popular, is because they foster psychologically safe environments. Think about it, in an effective brainstorming session, every member of the team is contributing, soon you might have dozens of ideas and plans made where before you only had a handful. Sure not all of these ideas may be workable, but their sheer existence demonstrates that each member of the team feels they can contribute, they feel included.

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      However, if before one person came up with a bad idea that was shot down and overly criticized, they may be less likely to speak up in the future, even if they have a potentially groundbreaking idea. As such, it’s difficult to go wrong with a psychologically safe team.

      All that is needed is for people to feel that they can speak up, even voice criticisms if they have them. People will engage in a team more if they feel a part of it, and that they are shaping it, and who knows, maybe in their critique is an idea that will massively increase the effectiveness, and with it, the success of your team.

      But where do you start?

      It all starts with you.

      Psychological safety is not something that can appear organically by itself out of nowhere. If the team environment is not psychologically safe, then the team leader must work hard to make it a safe environment. Here are some tips to get you on your way:

      • Lead by example. Become a model of what you think the ideal team member should be, if nobody else speaks, ask people things, keep encouraging people to interact with the group. Make sure this is done in a friendly way though, otherwise people might only say what they think you want them to say.
        Essentially, ask a lot of questions.
      • Don’t cut off conversation. If someone is speaking, or a few people have a good conversation going, let it flow naturally.
        To cut off the conversation will give the impression that people are not allowed to speak freely, and thus you’ll be back at square one.
      • If speak following something, make sure to summarize it in your own words, and if you think you misunderstood what some one says, ask for clarification. This will demonstrate that you are listening and care about what they have to say.
      • Never respond judgmentally. If someone feels that you are critical of their opinion, they will no longer give it, and thus the environment will once again become a psychologically unsafe one.
      • Don’t be an overlord. It is important to come across as someone who makes mistakes, someone human. Even something as simple as saying, “sorry, I might have missed something” will help build a stronger connection with your team members than if you just used your authority.
        It’s game over if your team members begin to resent working too.

      With these tips you should be well on your way to making your team a more effective, dynamic, and more successful than it has ever been.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

      Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step) What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating) The Secret to Success Is Failure The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually)

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      Last Updated on July 23, 2019

      How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Stop Feeling Stagnant at Work

      How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Stop Feeling Stagnant at Work

      There are plenty of people who successfully made a career change at the age of 40 or above:

      The Duncan Hines cake products you see in the grocery store are a good example. Hines did not write his first food guide until age 55 and he did not license his name for cake mixes until age 73.

      Samuel L. Jackson made a career change and starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46.

      Ray Kroc was age 59 when he bought his first McDonald’s.

      And Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at the age of 44.

      I could keep going, but I think you get the point. If you have a sound mind and oxygen in your lungs, you have the ability to successfully make a career change.

      In this article, I’ll look into why making a career change at 40 seems so difficult for you, and how to make the change and get unstuck from your stagnant job.

      What’s Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

      There are a flood of amazing reasons to make a career change at 40. Heck, you could argue the benefits of making a career change at any age. However, there is something a little different about making a career change at 40.

      When you are 40, you probably have lots of “responsibilities” that come into the decision-making process. What do I mean by responsibilities, you ask?

      Responsibilities tend to be our fears and self-doubt wrapped in a bow of logic and reason. You may say to yourself:

      • I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can I afford the risk associated with a career change?
      • What about the friends I have made over the years? I cannot just abandon them.
      • What if I do not like my career change as much as I thought I would? I could end up miserable and stuck in a worse situation.
      • My new career is so different than what I have been doing, I need additional training and certifications. Can I afford this additional expense and do I have the time recoup my investment?
      • The economy is not the best and there is so much uncertainty surrounding a new career. Maybe it would be better to wait until I retire from this company in 15 years, and then I can start something new.

      If you have experienced any of these thoughts, they will only pacify you for a short period of time. Whether that time is a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years.

      Since you know that you prefer to do something else for a living, you start to feel stagnant in your current position.

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      Your reasons for inaction that used to work are no longer doing the trick. What used to be a small fissure in your dissatisfaction in your current position is now a chasm.

      Ideally, you never stay in a situation until that point, but if you did, there is still hope.

      4 Tips To Change Your Career at 40

      You do not have to feel stagnant in your current role any longer. You can take steps to conquer your fears and self-doubt so you can accomplish your goal of changing your career.

      The challenge of changing your career is not knowing where to begin. That feeling of overwhelm and the fear of uncertainty is what keeps most people from moving forward.

      To help you successfully change your career at the age of 40, follow these four tips.

      1. Value Your Time Above Money

      There is nothing more valuable than your time. You are likely receiving a pay-check or two every month that is replenishing your income. Money is something you can always receive more of.

      When it comes to your time, when it is gone, it is gone. That is why waiting for the perfect situation to make a career change is the wrong mindset to have.

      Realistically, you will never find the perfect situation. There will always be something that could be better or a project you want to finish before you leave.

      By placing your time above money, you will maximize your opportunity to succeed and avoid stagnation.

      If you feel disconnected when you are at work, understand that you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees said they were actively engaged at work.[1]

      Whether you think your talents are not being properly utilized, the politics of promotion stress you out, or you feel called to do something else with your life; the time to act is now.

      Do not wait until you retire in another 10 to 20 years to make a career change. Put a plan in place to make a career change now. You will thank yourself later.

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      2. Build a Network

      Making a career change is not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

      One benefit to being further along in your career is the people you associate with are further along in their career as well.

      Even if most of the people in your immediate network are not in your target industry, you never know the needs of the people with whom they associate.

      A friend of mine recently made a career change and entered the real estate industry. The first thing he did was tell everyone he knew that he was a licensed real estate agent.

      It was not as though he thought everyone he knew was getting ready to sell their home. He wanted to make sure he was in the front of our mind if we spoke to anyone purchasing or selling their home.

      You may have had a similar experience with a financial adviser canvasing the neighborhood. They wanted to let you know they were a local and licensed financial adviser. Whether you or someone you knew was shopping for an adviser, they wanted to make sure you thought of them first.

      The power of your network being further along in their career is they may be the hiring manager or decision-maker.

      You want to let people know you are considering a career move early in the process, so they are thinking of you when the need arises.

      Let me put it to you in the form of a question: When is the best time to let people know you have a snow shoveling business?

      In the summer when there is not a drop of snow on the ground.

      Let them know about your business in the summer. Then ask them if it is okay to keep in touch with them until the need arises. Then you want to spend the entire fall season cultivating and nurturing the relationship. As a result, when the winter comes around, they already know who is going to shovel their snow.

      If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, start throwing out those feelers before the need arises. Then you will be ahead of your competition who waited until the snow fell to start canvasing the neighborhood.

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      Learn about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

      3. Believe It Is Possible

      One of the greatest mistakes people make when they want to try something new, is they never talk to people living the life they want.

      If you only talk to friends who have not changed their career in 30 years, what kind of advice do you think they will give you? They are going to give you the advice that they live by. If they have spent 30 years in the same career, they most likely feel stability of career is essential to their life.

      In life, your actions often mirror your beliefs. Someone who wants to start a business should not ask for advice from someone who never started one.

      A person who never took the risk of starting a business is most likely risk adverse. Consequently, they are going to speak on the fact that most businesses fail within the first five years.

      Instead, if you talk to someone who is running a business, they will advice you on the difficulties of starting a business. However, they will also share with you how they overcame those difficulties, as well as the benefits of being a business owner.

      If you want to overcome your fears and self-doubt associated with changing your career at 40, you are going to need to talk to people who have successfully managed a career change.

      They are going to provide you a realistic perspective on the difficulties surrounding the endeavor, but they are also going to help you believe it is possible.

      Studies show the sources of your beliefs include,[2]

      “environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs.”

      By choosing to absorb the successes of others, you are choosing to believe you can change your career at 40. On the other hand, if you absorb the fears and doubts of others, you have chosen to succumb to your own fears and self-doubt.

      4. Put Yourself Out There

      You are most likely going to have to leave your comfort zone to make a career change at 40.

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      Reason-being, your comfort zone is built on the experiences you have lived thus far. So that means your current career is in your comfort zone.

      Even though you may be feeling stagnant and unproductive in your career, it is still your comfort zone. This helps explain why so many people are unwilling to pursue a career change.

      If you want to improve your prospects of launching your new career, you are going to need to attend industry events.

      Whether these events are local or a large conference that everyone attends, you want to make it a priority to go. Ideally you want to start with local events because they may be a more intimate setting.

      Many of these events have a professional development component where you can see what skill-sets, certification, and education people are looking for. Here you can find 17 best careers worth going back to school for at 40.

      You can almost survey the group and build your plan of action according to the responses you receive.

      The bonus of exposure to your new industry is you may find yourself getting lucky (when opportunity meets preparation) and creating a valuable relationship or landing an interview.

      Final Thoughts

      Whatever the reason, if you want to change your career, you owe it to yourself to do so. You have valuable in-sight from your current career that can help you position yourself above others.

      Start sharing your story and desire to change your career today. Attend industry events and build a mindset of belief. You have everything you need to accomplish your goal, you only need to take action.

      More Resources About Career Change

      Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/HY-Nr7GQs3k via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] News Gallup: Employee Engagement In US, Stagnant In 2015
      [2] Indian J Psychiatry: The Biochemistry Of Belief

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