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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.

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      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

      17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques What Are The Levels Of The Mind And How To Improve Them How To Improve Short Term Memory: 7 Simple Ways to Try Now

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      Last Updated on June 1, 2021

      10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

      10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

      The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

      If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

      The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

      1. Analyze Your Learning Style

      Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

      Is your memory associated to sound?

      Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

      If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

      Do you relate information to visual content?

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      If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

      Are you a physical learner?

      If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

      A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

      2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

      Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

      One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

      • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
      • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
      • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
      • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
      • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
      • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
      • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

      3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

      Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

      One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

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      4. Get Some Exercise

      You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

      Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

      If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

      5. Work on the Ambiance

      If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

      If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

      6. Take a Lot of Notes

      Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

      This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

      Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

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      Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

      7. Make Mind Maps

      Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

      You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

      Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

      Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

      8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

      Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

      However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

      Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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      9. Find the Right Context

      Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

      Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

      The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

      With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

      10. Study Every Day

      It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

      The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

      If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

      More to Help You Learn Quicker

      Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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