February 14, 2022
The plane is about to take off, but something doesn’t quite look right. 🛫
As a co-pilot, you know this is potentially critical. Do you a) tell the captain, or b) hold your tongue?
The answer seems obvious. Yet fear of speaking up is scarily common — and the cause of numerous aviation disasters throughout history.
What was missing in these situations was psychological safety.
Psychological safety is feeling comfortable to speak up, even if that means challenging authority. And it’s a predictor of high-performing teams.
Obviously, psychological safety isn’t always a matter of life or death. But it is always a factor in team performance, regardless of the industry you work in.
In fact, research by Google’s operations team found it to be the #1 most important factor in successful teams.
Let’s look at how things can go wrong when an environment isn’t psychologically safe — and what you can do about it.
In many workplaces, people hold back on admitting mistakes, asking questions, or offering ideas.
Why? According to researchers James Detert and Amy Edmondson, it all comes down to self-preservation. Team members:
When team members hold back on opinions and suggestions, the team misses out on valuable opportunities to innovate and improve.
And that’s the best-case scenario (😳).
Worst case: team members stay silent on crucial issues, and you keep barreling towards a disaster that could have otherwise been prevented.
Take, for example, the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” scandal. As Amy Edmonson notes, VW’s fear-based leadership style created a “culture of silence” that permeated the entire division (and we all know how that turned out).
A psychologically safe environment is mostly seen as the responsibility of management. However, at Skoach, we approach it from both the leadership and team member side.
It goes deeper than that, of course. But creating psychological safety – and avoiding plane crashes – starts here.
“It was amazing to see how connected the team is and the trust we have with each other to talk out loud about our concerns, anxieties, failures and worries." — a Skoach user after completing a team challenge to foster Psychological Safety.