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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

      How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy How Your Attitude Determines Your Success How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over? Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

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      1 How to Write a Cover Letter for a Career Change (Step-By-Step Guide) 2 How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work 3 How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most 4 How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over? 5 Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

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      Published on March 26, 2019

      How to Write a Cover Letter for a Career Change (Step-By-Step Guide)

      How to Write a Cover Letter for a Career Change (Step-By-Step Guide)

      Embarking on a career change, tiny or big, can be paralyzing. Regardless of the reason for your desired career change, you need to be very clear on ‘why’ you are making a change. This is essential because you need to have clarity and be confident in your career direction in order to convince employers why you are best suited for the new role or industry.

      A well crafted career change cover letter can set the tone and highlight your professional aspirations by showcasing your personal story.

      1. Know Your ‘Why’

      Career changes can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You can take control and change careers successfully by doing research and making informed decisions.

      Getting to know people, jobs, and industries through informational interviews is one of the best ways to do this.[1] Investing time to gather information from multiple sources will alleviate some fears for you to actually take action and make a change.

      Here are some questions to help you refine your ‘why’, seek clarity, and better explain your career change:

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      • What makes me content?
      • How do I want work to impact my life?
      • What’s most important to me right now?
      • How committed am I to make a career change?
      • What do I need more of to feel satisfied at work?
      • What do I like to do so much that I lose track of time?
      • How can I start to explore my career change options?
      • What do I dislike about my current role or work environment?

      2. Introduction: Why Are You Writing This Cover Letter?

      Make this section concise. Cite the role that you are applying for and include other relevant information such as the posting number, where you saw the posting, the company name, and who referred you to the role, if applicable.

      Sample:

      I am applying for the role of Client Engagement Manager posted on . Please find attached relevant career experiences on my resume.

      3. Convince the Employer: Why Are You the Best Candidate for the Role?

      Persuade the employer that you are the best person for the role. Use this section to show that you: have read the job posting, understand how your skills contribute to the needs of the company, and can address the challenges of the company.

      Tell your personal story and make it easy for hiring managers to understand the logic behind your career change. Clearly explaining the reason for your career change will show how thoughtful and informed your decision-making process is of your own transition.

      Be Honest

      Explain why you are making a career change. This is where you will spend the bulk of your time crafting a clear message.

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      Speak to the mismatch that may be perceived by hiring managers, between the experience shown on your resume and the job posting, to show why your unique strengths make you more qualified than other candidates.

      Address any career gaps on our resume. What did you do or learn during those periods that would be an asset to the role and company?

      Sample:

      I have been a high school English and Drama educator for over 7 years. In efforts to develop my career in a new direction, I have invested more time outside the classroom to increase community engagement by building a strong network of relationships to support school programs. This includes managing multiple stakeholder interests including local businesses, vendors, students, parents, colleagues, the Board, and the school administration.

      Highlight Relevant Accomplishment

      Instead of repeating what’s on your resume, let your personality shine. What makes you unique? What are your strengths and personal characteristics that make you suited for the job?

      Sample:

      As a joyful theater production manager, I am known to be an incredible collaborator. My work with theater companies have taught me the ability to work with diverse groups of people. The theater environment calls for everyone involved to cooperate and ensure a successful production. This means I often need to creatively and quickly think on my feet, and use a bit of humour to move things forward to meet tight timelines.

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      Feature Your Transferable Skills

      Tap into your self-awareness to capture your current skills.[2]

      Be specific and show how your existing skills are relevant to the new role. Review the job posting and use industry specific language so that the hiring manager can easily make the connection between your skills and the skills that they need.

      Sample:

      As the first point of contact for students, parents, and many community stakeholders, I am able to quickly resolve problems in a timely and diplomatic manner. My problem solving aptitude and strong negotiation skills will be effective to address customer issues effectively. This combined with my planning, organization, communication, and multitasking skills makes me uniquely qualified for the role of Client Engagement Manager to ensure that customers maintain a positive view of .

      4. Final Pitch and Call-To-Action: Why Do You Want to Work for This Company?

      Here’s your last chance to show what you have to offer! Why does this opportunity and company excite you? Show what value you’ll add to the company.

      Remember to include a call-to-action since the whole point of this letter is to get you an interview!

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      Sample:

      _________ is a global leader in providing management solutions to diverse clients. I look forward to an opportunity to discuss how my skills and successful experience managing multiple stakeholders can help build and retain strong customer relationships as the Client Engagement Manager.

      Summing It Up

      Remember these core cover letter tips to help you effectively showcase your personal brand:

      • Keep your writing clear and concise. You have one page to express yourself so make every word count.
      • Do your research to determine ‘who’ will be reading your letter. Understanding your audience will help you better persuade them that you are best suited for the role.
      • Tailor your cover for each job posting by including the hiring manager’s name, and the company name and address. Make it easy on yourself and create your own cover letter template. Highlight or alter the font color of all the spots that need to be changed so that you can easily tailor it for the next job application.
      • Get someone else to review your cover letter. At a minimum, have someone proofread it for grammar and spelling errors. Ideally, have someone who is well informed about the industry or with hiring experience to provide you with insights so that you can fine-tune your career change cover letter.

      Check out these Killer Cover Letter Samples that got folks interviews!

      It is very important that you clarify why you are changing careers. Your career exploration can take many forms so setting the foundation by knowing ‘why’ not only helps you develop a well thought out career change cover letter, [3] but can also help you create an elevator pitch, build relationships, tweak your LinkedIn profile and during interviews.

      Remember to focus on your transferable skills and use your collective work experience to show how your accomplishments are relevant to the new role. Use the cover letter to align your abilities with the needs of the employer as your resume will likely not provide the essential context of your career change.

      Ensure that your final pitch is concise and that your call-to action is strong. Don’t be afraid to ask for an interview or to meet the hiring manager in-person!

      More Resources About Career Change

      Featured photo credit: Christin Hume via unsplash.com

      Reference

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