What can you do as a team leader or team member for more safety within a team? Talking about safety is not enough. Actions and learning new behaviors and habits are essential for greater psychological safety within a team. This allows people to feel at home and have more fun doing their work effectively and purposefully.
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The reason for this blog is a story that I recently heard, and that touched me. Within a team, there was someone who ran into something. That had been the case for a while, but she did not dare to discuss it with the group. At a particular moment, she had to talk about it, and with tears in her eyes, she told what she was dealing with. The group was amazed and did not see it coming. It turned out to be a big misunderstanding, but the other team members also became aware of their behavior and its effect on others. Fortunately, it turned out well.
You wouldn’t expect it, but sometimes I don’t feel safe in a group too. How could that be? Maybe it’s because I don’t know anyone, or because I’m not recognized, or because there are some loud, dominant team members. Or perhaps it’s because I don’t dare to be vulnerable.
In my experience, psychological safety within a group leads to more connection, recognition, more effectiveness, and more fun.
However, the question is how you, as a team leader or as a team member, can contribute to more safety within a group.
I have been professionally coaching and training since 2014. For more security, I say that everything that is said does not leave the room where we are. This is easy for one on one sessions or with small groups. With groups of 300 people, this is not always evident for everyone present. During such team building sessions, I say, “nothing is wrong; everything is good.”
If you, as a leader, want to create more safety in a team, then it is up to you to take the lead and talk about it. Then you can say that you value safety, and you invite the team members to say what they want to say and that the people are allowed to be vulnerable. Perhaps it is a good idea to start by naming a feeling, an assumption, or an observation.
That is similar to naming the elephant in the room. In this article, I will tell you how to do this, even if you are a member of a group or team.
Discuss what safety is for the group
In addition to autonomy, recognition, and commitment, safety is an essential part of the team context. These are preconditions that ensure that a team is productive and effective.
Teams can have their own definitions of safety. That may depend on how long a team has been around. In teams that have been together for a long time, particular behavior or customs are apparent. For example, safety in a construction site cabin will be different than in the employee office of a healthcare institution.
Discuss with the team what safety means. Is that you can always say anything (especially when it is stressful)? Or that you are accepted for who you are? That there is trust (and how we can strengthen it)? Who is responsible for safety?
How to ensure safety
The next step is that you agree on how you can guarantee safety. It is not just words, but actions are also essential to keep safety in a team. As a team leader, you can embrace the curiosity of team members, promote a healthy conflict or give team members a stage so that they can be heard. With this, there will undoubtedly be more involvement of the team members for a project, goal, and the organization.
Ensuring safety is, therefore, about learning new behaviors and habits that support safety. This safe behavior will replace unsafe behavior. In this article, I will tell you how to learn new behavior. An example is replacing fixed roles with changing or flexible roles within a team. Another example is that the team gets the freedom to set goals themselves instead of goals imposed by upper management.
Safety for better team performance
I am convinced that if there is more support and behavior for psychological safety within a team, there is also more positivity, optimism, job satisfaction, and that the team achieves goals faster and better. It is, therefore, essential to indicate and discuss why safety is necessary within a group and how it can help to move forward, achieve goals, and maintain a team’s WHY.
How do you contribute to more psychological safety within a team? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article and I are looking forward to reading from you!
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