A work culture where you believe you can bring your best self to work starts with trust.
Trust that you can share your ideas without rejection.
Trust that you can question assumptions and challenge established processes without repercussions.
Trust that you can offer a divergent opinion without embarrassment.
Psychological safety at work is the ability to take risks, ask difficult questions, or make mistakes coupled with the environments willingness to accept those actions without repercussion. It’s a key partnership with both the individual action and the readiness of the culture. When the culture isn’t ready it can come across as punishment. Punishment can take the form of anything between the casual dismissal of you or your idea, to formal discipline for speaking up or speaking out.
This is a crucial concept for companies to understand because so many focus on creating a culture that encourages risk-taking, values difference and benefits from diversity of thought. That’s because diverse groups recognize issues faster and develop more creative solutions than groups of people with similar life experiences.
But what if some team members don’t feel comfortable speaking up?
When employees do not feel the sense of psychological safety at work, the company and its customers suffer. People might hesitate to talk about projects or processes that aren’t working and then a project destined for failure could launch. When employees aren’t engaged, the company is no longer able to fully benefit from its biggest differentiator: people, and their ideas.