Investing in psychological safety can increase motivation, optimise team effectiveness, and improve well-being.

Laura Potgieter  |  30 June 2022

Ever been on a team where you felt truly trusted? Where you were empowered to try bold things and think big, because the potential for growth and learning far outweighed the fear of making a mistake? People tend to bring their best selves to work when they feel accepted and respected.  Their creativity, talents, and skills are free to be expressed without being censored or silenced, and they know they can learn actively on the job instead of pretending they know everything.

Psychological safety is an underlying factor that determines how many risks people take at work, how frequently they try out new ideas, and how effective their innovation is. Research shows that psychological safety is a determinant for employees’ health, safety, and loyalty. The idea behind psychological safety is for people to feel confident being themselves in a team without masquerading as someone they’re not. Team members need to be transparent, able to express themselves honestly, and feel accepted so they can function as a team. Creating an optimal working environment depends on all of these factors as much as they do in everyday relationships. As conscious leaders, maybe we should simply rebrand “psychological safety” and ask our peers – do you give yourself “permission to be human”?

This internal restructuring and work with your team must begin with an honest understanding of where you’re starting from. Yes, your employees speak during team meetings, but does everyone regularly share their thoughts? Is your team able to have constructive conflict? Do teammates feel enough of a sense of safety to say no?   Effective communication relies heavily on active listening. Taking a full interest in what the other person has to say requires full focus. As you actively listen to your colleagues, you should shift all your attention to them and give them space to express themselves. This is just one small component of shifting into a psychologically safe workspace.

With all of this in mind, fostering psychological safety at work should be your top priority.

Interdepartmental integration (Improving information exchange and product development performance.)

Psychological safety, like company culture, doesn’t happen overnight. It takes nurturing. So, what can you do to make sure you’re modelling this behaviour? Psychological safety comes from the top and trickles down. Tone, flow, and trust between departments is necessary for business results. At DevCom, we play inspector gadget, we look at your organisation from the outside, in. We identify the information that needs to be shared between departments. We smooth out barriers created by authority levels, culture, company politics and confidentiality. Your employees can trust us when we centralise data and provide accessible information. Interdepartmental integration yields increased communication flow by improving information exchange and product development performance. If building a curious, innovative, and high-performing team is your goal, psychological safety is critical for your organisation.

If an employee feels their voice matters, they are 4.6 times more likely to deliver their best work. Giving your teams a platform for honest, continuous dialogue is crucial in organisations of all shapes and sizes. Large corporate companies with many departments operating in silos should focus their attention on this! Fast growing medium size companies that will soon have many silos can prepare for this significant aspect of the business integration.