Part Two: Psychological Safety
Organisations are built on teams and a great organisation is built on a great team. A great team is the sum of the passion, focus and efforts of all individuals. These individuals bring their collective diversity, creativity, intelligence and motivation to create a well-rounded, confident and capable team. However, there are a few other key elements aside from what individuals bring that great teams have in common.
There are three key themes that bind some of the most innovative, driven and motivated companies across the world.
- Common Goal
- Psychological Safety
- Thought diversity
These three elements of a great team aren’t defined by location or hierarchy if you’re in the office or a remote worker. Every factor is equally as important, and you need all three to be a great team. Let’s explore what it takes to foster a great team in your organisation…
What is a team? A team can be defined as:
A group of people working together to achieve a common goal.
Understanding this is the first step to knowing how to build a great team.
This is part two of our three-part series on “The Three Non-Negotiables for a Great Team”
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson,
“Psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes”
In a 1999 study by the very same person, Amy Edmondson, she was originally investigating high performing medical teams and the reported mistakes compared to low performing teams. Conflicting with her original hypothesis, Edmondson concluded that high performing medical teams reported more mistakes than low performing teams. Why? The leaders who were judged by their teams as being better leaders had higher rates of documented errors than others in the same position who were judged to be worse leaders.
It seems counter-intuitive that a team that makes more mistakes is higher performing.
However, upon further investigation and analysis, Edmondson, discovered that the better leaders created a psychologically safe environment, where their direct reports felt free to admit and own their mistakes, and receive corrections. This in turn created a learning curve that the whole team benefited from, because of the reported errors.
It is about an individual feeling safe in their work environment, to share and discuss ideas, raise issues and own up to their mistakes. It is the feeling that we can wholeheartedly contribute to the conversation without being ignored or criticised. Psychological safety paves the way for and allows the team to benefit from their own intellectual diversity.
For the first crucial element of what makes a great team – check out Part One here.