What is Psychological Safety and why is it so important as you transform?

Google introduced many of us to the concept of psychological safety in the workplace, by sharing it as one of their 5 key dynamics that make great teams successful: psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact.
Psychological Safety is feeling secure enough to voice your thoughts and opinions without the fear of saying the wrong thing or making mistakes which could damage your credibility or reputation. It’s important for employees to feel psychologically secure during your digital transformation in order to collaborate effectively, push the boundaries of the art of the possible and deliver as self organising and innovative teams.
This quote from Amy Edmondson, pretty clearly demonstrates why psychological safety is such an important consideration in any Digital Transformation Strategy. Creating an environment in which people feel comfortable to take risks is key to harnessing innovation in your teams and workplaces and fostering creativity and ideation successfully.
Tips for fostering Psychological Safety as part of your Digital Strategy:
1. Leaders should lead by example by leaning into vulnerability, being open and approachable with their direct reports and peers and colleagues, and demonstrating that it is ok to not have all the answers whilst committing to their own development and learning. Importantly starting with ‘why’ and ‘the end in mind’ and being prepared to learn from mistakes and failures before moving on and letting any baggage go.
2. Be unapologetic on your Team Dynamics – your ways of working and culture – that contract and expectations exchange within a team that clearly labels that all ideas are considered and never judged and ‘blame’ does not have a seat at your table. Anything that can be done to encourage curiosity, and the security that individuals seek to bring new concepts forward, has to be a priority.
3. Encourage a learning culture – feedback is essential, practice active listening, do not seek to fill the silences. Employees who take measured risks and who are comfortable in sharing their ideas will contribute more effectively to your successful digital transformation. If the culture within the business doesn’t welcome mistakes in order to learn, there will be no psychological safety within the team and it will be impossible to deliver true innovation Taking risks does not mean being negligent or being ignorant of governance – they are only taken when it makes sense as a tool to help the group collectively, the team governance that agile methodologies and service design frameworks encourage, ensures that rigour is maintained.
That is not to say that healthy challenge should not be encouraged. Safe spaces mean disagreements are not viewed as personal criticism and only as useful contributions towards influencing a mutual and clear goal. Psychological safety is even more important in the wake of some of the biggest disruption all businesses will have seen in a generation. By taking these steps, you will be armouring your team with the tools to resiliently face into the unrelenting uncertainty and ambiguity that this Pandemic is causing and make decisions quickly to give your products and services the best possible chance of success.