Psychological Safety at Work

I read a really interesting blog today around the benefits of feeling 'psychologically safe' within a team/organisation.  The link is below for anyone interested.

I can't help but feel that the 'human touch' has been so far stripped out of many larger organisations, with focus being on the bottom line measured only by statistics, the much of the feelings around safety to speak up, explore, and experiment has been wiped out.

Whilst the workplace is beginning to show change, and world-leading organisations are setting better examples to the rest, it still feels like many businesses talk the talk without walking the walk behind the scenes.

I'd be interested to hear how other businesses have made the transition, or are working towards the steer back to psychological safety, if in fact they are!!

My own experience is that we can certainly include the benefits of these collaborative successes and behaviours in our management development programmes, but all too often the message from above doesn't allow for this to be embedded, and quite honestly, strips this back out of the individual with the strategic focus being contradictory to this very act.

Would love to hear any experiences either supporting or rejecting this approach.


  • Thanks for sharing this link, an interesting read. I work for a homeless charity and we're introducing a psychologically informed way of working with our clients (PIE for short!). Some of the core principles are around relationships with others and having the space to reflect and learn as being key to enabling change. We're thinking about how we translate that into staff management and the idea of a psychologically safe way of working would really fit with that.

  • Gill, Hi, i talk about this alot in leadership programmes. We explore the simple strategies of just making time for each other, getting to know the person not the role. Sometimes it's just as simple as ensuring they value breaks together etc.. Amy Edmondson in her research talks about the impact in Surgery of breaking down power of hierarchy and roles that impacts safety by just doing a round of introductions before they begin. humanising the room. Also...i find tools like values share, comm styles/personality type etc..., strengths etc...as ways to be OK about the differences and safe to and have permission to bring their diverse views to the discussion. So within teams i see this a lot. Margaret Heffenan's video highlights Social connectedness which may be of interest too. www.ted.com/.../margaret_heffernan_why_it_s_time_to_forget_the_pecking_order_at_work
    From an organisational perspective..i have not seen any good examples personally of that being a strategic focus as yet.
  • Thanks for sharing this, I was just doing some research on psychological safety and how it can help make performance reviews more effective and this article is a great place to start.
  • Hi Gill
    Psychological safety or wellbeing at work is one of those things that ebbs and flows. For me, it is not a benefit, but an essential element for engagement, productivity and creativity.
    Unfortunately across HR in organisations of all sizes, we seem to want to do as much as we can to undermine this safety.

    It starts with recruitment - do we respond in a timely way? Do we send rejection letters to all?
    at induction, do we do this for the convenience of the new starter or existing staff? Do we do it at all?

    What about probation, that itself unsettles psychological safety in many.
    The appraisals, often staff and managers dislike the process and are hesitant of it.

    Then comes to reporting, as you say numbers, and while a few years ago there was a move towards Human Capital measures, that seems to have gone from being a human factor to just a number.

    If we believe that psychological safety is important, then training managers is the last step, the first is to look at our policies and procedures.

    As an aside, my masters' dissertation was exploring what triggers people in environments like this to contribute - and psychological safety was a massive hygiene factor

  • I've been designing some useful resources on psychological safety. These explainer videos help with understanding what psychological safety is and how we can promote it in our workplaces. - www.youtube.com/watch
  • If you make this sense of psychological safety on your own team opening now, you can get higher levels of engagement, enhanced motivation to deal with difficult problems, more learning and growth opportunities, and improved performance.