Psychological Safety Checklist: How to Foster High Team Performance

Psychological Safety Checklist: How to Foster High Team Performance

A fundamental need for humans is safety. That’s probably not a surprise to you. Most of us long to feel safe from potential threats – both physical and psychological. Thanks to laws, regulations and OSHA, many of us feel physically safe at work. However, psychological safety seems more elusive day-to-day.

When Google released its team-effectiveness findings from its two-year research study focused on high performing teams, psychological safety took center stage. 

Researchers discovered that psychological safety is the most important factor in contributing to high team performance.

What is Psychological Safety?

Google defines psychological safety as the belief that you, a team member, feels safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of peers. You’re also able to express dissenting opinions without the risk of punishment or shame.

Can you think of a time when you felt completely safe to disagree with a colleague or executive? What about asking a “dumb” question in front of others? Were you able to fully express yourself without the fear of judgement or retaliation?

Do your employees feel safe to be vulnerable and take risks at work?

Sadly, for many of us, office politics, poor leadership skills and organizational dysfunction run rampant at work. Ourselves and our teams suffer as a result, and so do our organizations’ bottom lines.

When you and your teams feel safe, you’re more likely to embrace diverse ideas and see potential “failures” as stepping stones to greater success. As a result, innovation, communication and collaboration improve.

Your Psychological Safety Checklist

I’ve created a Psychological Safety Checklist you can use this week with your teams:

  1. Admit when you don’t have all of the answers or when you’ve made a mistake. It’s important to be vulnerable in front of your teams to show them that’s okay. 
  2. Listen carefully when your employees speak and paraphrase what you’ve heard. They will know that you heard them, even if you disagree with them.
  3. Encourage all team members to listen without judgement and applaud them when they praise one another.
  4. Ensure all team members have offered their points of view during collaborative discussions and team meetings.
  5. Model healthy communication styles.
  6. Address conflict quickly and encourage team members to express disagreements in healthy ways.
  7. Note and openly address when a team member is dominating conversations, talking over others and diminishing others’ ideas. Do this with kindness and compassion.

Use these seven actions as a guide the next time you meet or communicate with your team.

Anything to add to my checklist that’s helped you/your team? What challenges have you faced to foster psychological safety? I’d love to know.

If you’d like to discuss your particular situation or learn more about developing high performing teams, send me an email to schedule a time to chat. I’m happy to address your questions, provide insight or offer additional support.