The importance of psychological safety and how it links to performance accountability (diagram)

I’m frequently waxing lyrical about the importance of psychological safety in teams to encourage openness and trust, so I really resonated with this LinkedIn post from HR Leader David McLean.

David’s post speaks to the extra steps leaders need to take to make themselves aware of different perceptions of psychological safety, but I particularly liked the incredibly impactful and simple diagram that meshes together psychological safety and performance accountability.

In short – performance accountability WITHOUT psychological safety leads to apathy and anxiety in your team.

Psychological safety is kind of like oxygen. When it’s in the room, we don’t even notice it. The second it’s gone, it is all we notice!

“Psychological safety creates a virtuous circle where people are comfortable admitting their mistakes and learning from their failure; as a result, everyone openly shares their ideas and experiments, cultivating an innovative environment. It also prevents teams to fall prey to analysis paralysis, and leads to faster decision-making.”

During these unprecedented times our fast and sloppy reptilian brain can really take over and individuals may more readily move into a fight, flight or freeze response.

As leaders we need to take extra steps to be aware of individuals perceptions of the psychological safety they are experiencing. It is vital that we clarify our intentions and check in for possible misunderstandings.

Interpersonal fears are amplified for employees working from home during a prolonged crisis like the pandemic. Building psychological safety in virtual teams takes effort and strategy that pays off in engagement, collegiality, productive dissent, and idea generation.



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