Studies have shown that psychological safety is the most important factor in building effective teams. A team that has a high level of psychological safety is one in which team members feel safe to speak up, to admit their mistakes, or take a risk.
One of the biggest challenges most teams face is having trust in each other and their leaders. Trust allows for open communication and creates an environment where team members have confidence that they will be supported by their colleagues. If the trust foundation is lacking, it’s very hard to get people to listen to each other let alone collaborate effectively.
If you want to work on psychological safety with your team, here are some practical activities you can undertake. The activities vary in length and can be adapted to both one-off and regular meetings as well as team offsite meetings, retreats, and other events designed specifically for improving team dynamics.
Collaborative activity has increased significantly in the past two decades. Teams are an essential unit within an organization as well as how we function socially.
Given the proliferation of teamwork, in 2012 Google took on the task of researching how to optimize teams. They set out to determine what factors determined an effective team and how they could improve the way people work together.
They undertook a study they named Aristotle - in honor of Aristotle’s quote that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. They gathered statisticians, organizational psychologists, sociologists, and engineers and studied 180 teams across their engineering and sales divisions. There was a mix of high performing and low performing teams.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of a team, the researchers measured the evaluation of the team by the team leader, the members of the team, and the executive ultimately responsible...
One of the greatest challenges leaders can face is something they often don’t even realize is a problem. What happens is that leaders often have a pretty clear picture of what needs to happen in their head-who’s doing what and why. The problem is that just because it’s clear in their head, leaders might not realize things aren’t as clear for their staff. It’s only human for us to tend to assume that something that’s clear for us is just as clear for others.
Leaders often overestimate how well staff have digested messages and it’s common that staff need repeated communication or further elucidation to gain clarity. Unfortunately, this problem often goes unrecognized until it really affects output - staff might miss a deadline, skip a task or need to redo something because they have not been clear on what was required, or specifically what their role in the project was. Staff will often suffer in silent confusion rather than risk...
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by an impossible workload of urgent tasks, you might feel like it’s time to find a new job! Or it could just be that you need greater clarity to identify where you really need to focus your efforts.
When you’re unclear about your role and responsibilities, it’s easy to be distracted by lower priority work. Or it may be that you’re being burdened with tasks that aren’t really aligned with your role. If so, it’s time to speak up. Perhaps you’re sharing tasks with colleagues and you may be unclear of who is ultimately accountable for what.
Where there’s confusion, jobs fall through the cracks, deadlines are skipped and you can end up bickering over whose fault it is, or what you should do next. Confusion can also lead to a full inbox, or days packed with meetings, never giving you the opportunity to actually get some work done. Whatever your concern, if uncertainty is at the...
‘There’s no team without trust’ Paul Santagata, Head of Industry, Google. Quote via HBR
When it comes to team performance, Google discovered that there’s a common denominator across top performing teams. Google undertook a two year comprehensive study on teams which revealed that psychological safety is key for performance.
Psychological safety is about creating a culture where team members don’t feel threatened with punishment or ridicule and can feel comfortable taking some risks. When they know they’re not going to be criticized for making a mistake, a fearless environment is created where team members can flex their individuality and be creative without fear of ridicule or ostracization that they’re not conforming to the well beaten path.
In 1999, Harvard’s Amy Edmondson published an influential paper in which she...
Whether you want to go remote or not, it’s becoming increasingly likely that someday you will. What might have been a temporary, ad hoc situation may become more permanent. If you’re not used to managing a remote team, you might worry-
We can learn from professionals who have been working remotely long before the pandemic hit. If you can bring empathy to your team, you can support them, communicate effectively, and keep up morale and productivity. But how do you create an empathetic team? This article will talk you through setting up and managing an empathetic remote team.
Empathy is about putting yourself in your employees’ position and encouraging your team to do the same with each other. Working remotely makes it more difficult to know what people’s particular concerns are. Especially...
How to eliminate toxic work cultures
A toxic work culture is one of the most debilitating situations a leader can have to deal with.
It creeps in sometimes seemingly silently, permeates an organization quickly and leaves discontent, resentment, panic and chaos in its wake. It will affect productivity, employees will resign. It can seriously damage a company’s reputation. Once word gets out of a toxic work culture, it’s difficult to recruit new talent and the only way to recover is CHANGE.
The key to eliminating toxicity is creating an empathetic culture and it starts at the top.
Leaders are able to set norms of empathy and respect that ripple across the organization and dispel negativity. A leader has to be prepared to face uncomfortable truths, take staff concerns seriously, and act on issues and to set a new agenda based on compassion and respect.
It’s important to firstly recognize that a work...
You are scared to death to hire in this economy, and with good reason. One of the scariest things a leader does is add a person to her team. When it goes well, hiring a new team member can be just what is needed to take the organization to the next level, hit the next milestone, and accelerate growth.
When it goes poorly, however, the best case is that it will be a total and complete waste of time. Most likely the result is much worse… The new hire will have an overall negative impact on the existing team and instead of taking steps toward your mission, everyone will fall backward and lose ground. The situation will need to be rectified and that will cost thousands of dollars in time, energy, and expense.
Most of the time, leaders make these kinds of hiring decisions by using their instincts. Truth be told, I am a big believer in leadership instinct and at Kutsko Consulting,...
You've been with us for a while and so far you've gotten to learn about Driving Forces, Behaviors, Emotional Intelligence and Competencies. Next, we will be introducing you to Acumen.
Imagine two cars driving down the highway. They are both going 75 miles per hour, but one is a 1962 VW Beetle and the other is a 2019 Porsche 911. Now imagine sitting inside each of those two cars and what it would feel like. I'm not really into cars, but I know that going that fast in a car from the 1960's would feel a lot different than any car built recently, let alone one of the fastest Porsches ever made. The fact is that sitting inside those two different cars would feel very different. The VW would feel like it is nearing it's capacity for speed while the Porsche might feel like it could easily go much much faster. Two cars doing the same thing, going the same speed, to some degree will look similar to the external observer. But sitting inside the two of them will feel very...
Did you know that Understanding Others is a competency that you can develop? We define the Understanding Others competency as, "Understanding the uniqueness and contributions of others." Who do you know who is highly skilled at Understanding Others?
With practice, you can grow and develop this skill just like other "hard skills" you might be good at like cooking, public speaking, employee coaching, or playing golf.
Those with a highly developed skill of Understanding Others exhibit the following: