3 Strategies to Create Psychological Safety on Your Team

3 Strategies to Create Psychological Safety on Your Team

Productive conflict is a critical topic, especially in today’s business climate – and as we look ahead to the workplace of the future.

If you want your organization to thrive in the years ahead, it will need several key components to be effective:

  • A lot of dialogue and collaboration
  • Constructive debate & problem-solving
  • Being open to what other people have to say – especially when their point of view is different

All Humans Need Psychological Safety

To make this happen, humans need to feel a sense of psychological safety. In my last post, I explained why this is so crucial – with the increasing complexity and unpredictability of our world today, the workplace of the future will depend on people from different teams to work together, experiment, and then adjust their approach based on what they learn.

How do you cultivate psychological safety on your team? Implement these simple strategies you can use as a leader to create a workplace that values every team member’s insights, creativity, and innovative ideas.

Strategy #1: Lead from Vision, not Fear

Leaders build certainty in the workplace when they recognize that leading from fear is an outdated approach. Research in neuroscience shows that fear consumes cognitive resources, diverting them from parts of the brain that process new information.

As a result, when we experience fear, we are less able to engage in analytic thinking, creative insight, and problem solving. In short, it’s hard for people to do their best work when they are afraid. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Strategy #2: Create Productive Conflict Norms

Productive conflict norms are simple agreements that articulate what is expected and unacceptable when dialogue and debate are necessary to solve complex problems. Creating productive conflict norms will help the team address the diverse backgrounds that people bring to the workplace in how they deal with each other when tensions rise.

Strategy #3: Understand and Appreciate Style Differences

In many of our team and leadership development programs, we use a personality style profile tool called DiSC© to help people understand themselves and others at a much deeper level. DiSC© (notice the lowercase “i” to distinguish it from knockoffs), published by Wiley, provides a practical and effective framework people can use on an interactive basis to improve communication and build better relationships.

Additionally, when leaders and team members share their DiSC© styles, it helps to build what author Patrick Lencioni calls “vulnerability-based trust.” This level of trust allows team members to “comfortably and quickly acknowledge without provocation their mistakes, weaknesses, failures, and needs for help,” as well as recognize “the strengths of others, even when those strengths exceed their own.”

Create Psychological Safety on Your Team

When we create a psychologically safe environment where team members feel a sense of certainty, anything and everything becomes possible.

Leaders can tap into the beautiful gifts that people bring to work.

People can have the conversations that matter most—for the organization, the team, and individuals.

Teams can create an environment where vulnerability-based trust flourishes and productive conflict is the norm.

How is your team doing?

Download our team assessment based on the human workplace needs
outlined in my book, The Deeply Human Workplace.



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