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Workplace culture going stale?

Workplace culture going stale?

I get asked a lot – what makes a great corporate team?

Many people think it’s all about the bottom line and others share that their definition of a great team is having hardworking staffers who make minimal mistakes.

Some even offer that a great team is reliant on great management (before sighing and adding – that it’s a rarity – sad, eh?)

So, what does make a great workplace?

It is psychological safety.

OK, psychological safety? That’s sounding a lot like a buzz word and yeah, it is – but it’s also a vital component of corporate success. If this is term isn’t familiar to you, think of it as kale, 12 months before kale became known as the superfood it is today.

Think of psychological safety as lamb shanks, just before they transitioned from being a treat for Fido, to a gourmet staple.

You need to know that psychological safety is in the green room about to take centre stage in the arena of corporate best practice – and you need to be ready!

So, what is it?

According to Professor Amy Edmondson, who coined the term, psychological safety is a belief that a person will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. Stop laughing!!! Stay with me here.

It’s about creating a work environment where people feel comfortable to take risks and voice opinions, which in turn boosts innovation and collaboration in the workplace.

Now wouldn’t that be good?

In 2015, Google published the results of its two-year study Project Aristotle (you can read more about that here), which researched what makes a great team.

Based on the findings, they developed a list of the five key dynamics that make a great team successful:

1. Psychological Safety (yup – it’s top of the wozza!) – People feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.

2. Dependability – People get things done on time and to standard of the workplace.

3. Structure and Clarity – People have clear roles, plans and goals.

4. Meaning – Work is personally important and meaningful to each person.

5. Impact – People feel that their work matters and creates change.

Psychological Safety is surprisingly easy to implement in the workplace and something like a workplace creed or values statement can serve as a simple reminder of the values of the office. Here’s an example.

It’s important to note though, that this document is not just created to tick a box and then left to gather dust on the wall. Everyone in your office has seen it …. but who is really looking at it?

Revisit it regularly, include it in your bi-annual strategic planning.

Come to regard it as the superhero cloak that envelops your workforce instead of some wanky process that everyone helps create yet pays no respect to.

Here are some sure-fire tips, especially for managers, to implement psychological safety in the workplace:

Lead by example – if you set the example, down the line staff will accept this as the norm. Ask for upward feedback and acknowledge your mistakes. Be open to opinions that differ from your own and be approachable. Sounds straightforward but for many it’s glossed over.

You wouldn’t believe the number of workplaces I’ve seen that have a no-smoking on the premises policy … yet, when I turn up and go to find the manager, I discover them outside, smoking merrily with their staff. And they wonder why their leadership is not respected.

Welcome and encourage curiosity – staff members that feel safe to be inquisitive and ask questions will be more engaged, therefore boosting innovation and promotion constructive communication in the workplace.

This one is often seen through the lens of a manager’s own limiting beliefs, not on purpose, but simply because they’re emotionally hardwired to see change as a threat. Begin to see curiosity as the catalyst for growth.

See feedback as currency – when you learn how to welcome feedback, and understand how to deliver it so it’s embraced, your workplace culture bank account will be kaaachinging all the way to successville.

Again, I’ve lost count of the number of staff who’ve been left disillusioned because their feedback has been received through a filter of ego and instead of being heard, they’ve been transferred or targeted. This. Is. NOT. OK!

Create an emotionally safe environment – promote the ethos where staff listen without interrupting each other, that all ideas are accepted equally and make it clear that the ideas may not be adopted, however the person is celebrated for contributing them, and of course, ensure that your work place isn’t buying tickets to the blame game.

When we remove blame, judgement and persecution from the work place and foster a safe environment where team members feel safe to voice their ideas and accept or identify mistakes, we end up with a healthy, collaborative environment where each member feels accepted and valued.

The payoff – you’ll see an increase in productivity, innovation and positive communication and if that isn’t exciting enough, you’ll also lower your staff turnover, increase engagement and be kicking your competitors’ arses as an employer of choice. Booyeah!!!

If workplace safety excites you but you have no idea where to start, or if you’d like a clear framework on how to get it, let’s connect.

We’re happy to start you on the process or navigate the whole journey for you.

You can choose a day and time for a complimentary, no-obligation Conflict to Cohesion chat (to see where you’re at, where you could be and the steps you can take to get there) here.

Leanne Shaw
Senior Coach/Trainer
Leanne Shaw

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