Psychological safety is an important element in successful, productive work cultures. So what does that look like? And how do you create it? Here are three crucial elements:
Respect, not abuse.
All employees and leaders need to feel that their skills and they themselves as people are respected and valued. Managers and C suite executives must model respect for everyone, and treating people with respect must be part of the organizational culture. That means bullying and mobbing are not acceptable ways of managing or interacting with colleagues. Everyone needs to understand what bullying and mobbing look like and how to intervene. Information on these topics is not often part of professional training, so many otherwise savvy leaders don’t recognize the warning signs and lack the skills to help change the dynamic.
Respect, not assumptions.
Respect also means practicing the platinum rule, Treat others the way they want to be treated), rather than the golden rule, Treat others the way you want to be treated. Respect means not assuming everyone has the same work or communication style, and instead observe or ask what works best for them. Training and practices in intercultural communication and diversity, equity, and inclusion can help.
Freedom to Fail.
The best leaders believe innovation can come from anyone at any time. They make ample room for mistakes, knowing that taking risks to try something new means it doesn’t always work. When people have space to collaborate and brainstorm, and feel safe to contribute thoughts or creative ideas, without thinking they will be disparaged or dismissed, organizations will be much better at problem solving, creating new products, or processes. It is a very different environment, far more productive, than if people are just keeping their heads down.