Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 30, 2018

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.

Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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.

      Advertising

      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.

      Advertising

      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

      Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life? How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over?

      Trending in Smartcut

      1 10 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships and Work as a Team 2 The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind 3 Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out 4 How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter 5 Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising

      Published on November 19, 2018

      10 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships and Work as a Team

      10 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships and Work as a Team

      Behind the corporate veil, the actual members who work towards achieving the company goals are the ultimate assets.

      It is very important for every team member to maintain focused goals on a professional front, at their individual level and at the organizational level. With even the slightest discord between two employees, the entire team might suffer and have to adjust with the downsize in organizational success that they realize ultimately.

      As humans, each and every employee is bound to have different opinion and feel inclined to meet their personal goals, just as much as they meet the goals of their company. Hence, it is essential that work relationships among different employees are friendly and cordial. This will help the fellow team members to work together as an efficient team. The ultimate outcome of which will be a capable work force, poised to gather the gains of organizational success.

      Let us take a look at some of the ways to build positive work relationships and help employees work together as a team:

      1. Respect Your Peer’s Time

      No matter which specific domain you work in or in which your organization deals in, each arena entails performance of various jobs by the employees. Within this organization, there are a set of cumulative jobs which ought to be performed at a specific pace, and within a set period of time.

      Sometimes, there might also be a sequence to the performance of actions and processes, so that the next process in the sequence can be performed. Some procedures are dependent upon the performance of an action by a certain member of the team, so that the other members can carry out the subsequent steps in the sequence. The ultimate target with this planning is that the work must be completed on time and there should be no delay in meeting the deadlines which have been set for the purpose.

      Thus, in situations where you are placed in a role where other people are affected by your actions or performance, it is essential that you respect their time and effort, and ensure that the ball is not pent up in your court.

      At the same time, remember that you should make yourself available for other people, should they require your help. Ultimately, your aim must be focused at ensuring that work is not pending and you get it done like experts doing the work.

      Advertising

      2. Ensure that You Are Cautious With Social Media

      With the ongoing trend in the digital space, it is easy to feel compelled and drawn towards the idea of connecting with your peers and colleagues on the social media. Although there is not much harm in the practice, it is essential to observe caution while making these connections.

      The simple reason behind this is that one wrong move can dampen your reputation or else, cause your peers to gather an incorrect impression about you.

      It makes sense to ensure what the social media policy of your organization is before treading on this path. If such policies restrict the association of fellow employees, then you must respect them.

      3. Communication is the Key

      Communication is essentially one of the most vital keys which impact how your relationships with peers and other employees are. The role of effective communication cannot be stressed enough. It is vital in attaining the goals of working together in an organization and carrying out the jobs which will help in attaining success.

      However, there is a very big danger with communication. As part of the human nature, it is easy to assume that the person ahead of us has understood what we intend to say. This might not be true at all times.

      Therefore, taking feedback is important. This will help you understand if your message has been understood in the intended manner. If the message has not reached the intended party as expected, corrective actions can be taken at the same time.

      Poor communication has the disadvantage of adding stress and distrust among fellow employees. It can sometimes causes crucial message failed to be delivered, leading to organizational turbulence, after which the blame game is hard to end.

      In order to avoid the confusion and misunderstanding, communicate through a formal chain of command and follow formal mode of communication. Thus, communicating through mails or any other formal channel of communication would be the appropriate way to communicate in order to keep everything on record. This will help in referring to the communications later, should any dispute arise.

      Advertising

      4. Feedback is Important

      As important as it is to take feedback from other people, it is also important to give your feedback. It is not just you who needs feedback but also your peers, in order to understand how well they are performing.

      Your feedback will help other people progress in their work as much as it will help you progress in yours. Giving constructive feedback to your fellow peers at the right time and in the right state will help them advance, and ultimately lead to the success of the organization.

      Your co-workers are bound to value your opinion and regard you in a positive light, if you provide them with the feedback that you require from them.

      5. Make Use of Common Day Courtesies

      Greeting a co-worker may sound like something so ordinary that you might wonder how it ended up on this list. However, as long as we are talking about ways to build a positive work environment, this one cannot be ignored.

      You maybe surprised by bidding your co-workers simple common day courtesies! Being humble never hurt anyone, even if you do not exactly receive something in return.

      Moreover, you must maintain eye contact with your fellow peers if you wish to gain their trust. This will provide the necessary infrastructure to build a capable team.

      6. Get Into the Habit of Helping Yourself

      While at work, accept that you are never going to receive the pampered behaviour which you do at home. No one at your workplace wakes up in the morning and makes themselves available at the  to hear you rant or constantly answer your questions. However, you might come up with situations nevertheless, which require you to ask for help or advice.

      In this scenario, try to gather some information about your question, say, from the manuals which you receive upon joining, or from the web and equip yourself with some concrete information about the question which you may be ready to ask from someone else.

      Advertising

      At least when you approach someone with your doubts, along with the information gathered you’ve gathered, they will appreciate you for having made the effort to find out the answer.

      This will make them feel important as well, answering your questions and helping you achieve your goals or tasks.

      7. Treat Everyone as Equals

      As a member of your team, it is not your job to point out who is better and who is not. Organizational politics can be a deadly game to play and as long as you are not a pro player, it is always risky to put yourself in a situation that will tarnish your image.

      Gossiping is a strict no and spreading rumours is something you must avoid at all costs. Behave in a humble manner and even if someone tries to pull you into a conversation, avoid it in a respectful manner. Do everything you can to pull yourself out of that situation.

      While talking behind people’s backs may sound like a refreshing fun activity initially, it will definitely come to bite you behind the back in the future.

      Also, it will be wise to remember that no one in the organization is permanent. People change and so can their designation. It will be better for you to keep your personal views about someone in your head.

      As long as you maintain the idea of treating everyone as equal, you will find yourself amidst a positive working environment at all times.

      8. Acknowledge Your Mistakes

      Mistakes happen and one of the more noteworthy facts about mistakes is that they can be made by anyone. The wisest thing you can do is to admit mistakes you’ve made.

      Advertising

      Playing the blame game will not only tarnish the name of your peers but also your own. It is always good to avoid getting into a tiff with others. Admit your mistakes and think of remedies or solutions to fix it. For a positive working relationship with your peers, you will need to adopt this quality.

      9. Learn to Take on Responsibilities

      Passing on your work load might be required when you are overburdened with work. However, when entrusted with a job, you should try to accept it as your responsibility and avoid putting it off to someone else.

      Putting off work all the time will only end up creating a block between you and your peers, while they may start avoiding communicating with you at all. When you work in a team, your duty is to cooperate and build a positive working relationship with your teammates.

      10. Engage in a Follow-up Routine

      As a part of a team, it is necessary to express the fact that you care about your team members and you are also poised to achieve the targets set by your team.

      Whenever you get the chance, do not hold back from asking your co-workers about your work performance and whether they think there’s anything you should improve.

      Be prepared to be available to change and improve. This will go a long way in presenting yourself as a responsible and willing to learn employee.

      The Bottom Line

      These are just some of the ways in which fellow team members can build positive work relationships among themselves and work towards taking the organization to new heights. This attitude is  best to achieve overall success for the organization and create an environment of trust and honesty among the employees.

      Featured photo credit: Mimi Thian via unsplash.com

      Read Next