Psychological Safety Exercises: 9 Steps to Implement
Implementing psychological safety exercises at the workplace is a necessity since all forms of discrimination are on the rise, and it, needless to say, has taken a heavy toll on our mental health.
The concept of psychological safety refers to making the workplace a safe space for the employees to give opinions without fear of being judged, be creative, and be confident in themselves. Curating such an environment requires practicing empathy leadership qualities, and you should be open-minded along with being inclusive.
Exercises to Foster Psychological Safety at a Workplace
To support high-performing teams, creating psychologically safe work environments is critical to not only basic human decency, but retention.
- Check-in on Your Employees
How strongly one starts their day at work may define the work output. And so, it is for you to check in on your employees’ first thing in the morning to ensure they feel valued and heard. As a meeting expert, Emily Axelrod, wrote, “How you enter a space and how you leave a space is as important as what happens in the space.”
You should invite each member to share what (mindset) they’re bringing to the table before the work conversation starts — one at a time. Such a practice forms an imperative step among the psychological safety exercises and allows people to be fully present and feel listened to. It reinforces collective trust, gives everyone a voice, and reminds us that we’re human.
- Encourage All to Speak
Encouraging employees to speak is an important part of psychological safety exercises. Oftentimes, only half the employees actively engage in team meetings or casual conversations. It could be due to reasons ranging from feeling marginalized to fear of judgment. In most organizations, 80% of the conversations are dominated by only 20% of the participants. Not only are the employees supposed to feel safe, equally important is making them feel heard.
We have amidst us all- introverts, marginalized communities, and freshers who tend to keep to themselves in all company activities. This is not only because they are afraid of being judged; louder people are silencing them.
Research proves that it is much more difficult for women to earn recognition than it is for men. By analyzing different companies, the organizational psychologist found that when male employees introduce an idea to increase revenue, they get significantly higher performance reviews than women who contributed equally valuable insights.
An encouraging conversation can have moving effects. It can make the employees aloof from the fear of being judged and bring forth creative and unique ideas, yield greater output and most of all, foster a healthy mindset.
- A Party for the Anxious
How can a party and psychological safety exercise have a correlation, you ask? Well, they do. An idea stemmed from the Google Ventures design team; anxiety parties are a great way to further your quest to find exercises for psychological safety. Exploring different options, Daniel Burka realized that what they needed was, "a structured time where we could be vulnerable and get our anxieties out in the open." So, they decided to throw an Anxiety Party.
In the first step, everyone writes down the reason troubling them or their biggest anxieties. Next, everyone ranks their issues from most to least concerning.
Second, each person gets to share the anxiety that worries them the most. Colleagues score the issue based on how much it troubles them from a zero (“It never even occurred to me that this was an issue”) to five (“I strongly believe you need to improve in this area”).
The majority of these issues turn out to be vain and most people only worry about the fallacious things. This practice lifts much of the heavy load off of the employees. On the other hand, most concerts are genuine and need you to address them. Discuss whether it needs a collective effort or an individual solution. Such a practice should be held regularly for better outcomes.
- Constructive Feedback
Giving feedback on an employee's work encourages the motive of furthering psychological safety exercises and forms a healthy culture. While the managers must give feedback, the co-worker should also give and receive feedback. In addition to helping motivate and make them feel valued, feedback also helps employees to develop their skills. All of this positively impacts individual, team, and organizational performance.
The feedback does not necessarily have to be based on work stuff. It could be based on the smallest things, including their dressing sense, kindness, or helping nature. It's clear that positive feedback is highly motivating and facilitates the growth of a healthier, more supportive and unified team!
- Give Recognition
A company that acknowledges its employees’ work is sure to be successful in making its psychological safety exercises a success. Appreciating the hard work of your employees encourages them to elevate their performance level. This is known as positive reinforcement under operant conditioning in the field of psychology.
Though monetary awards are sure to go a long way in making the employee feel valued, simple compliments will do the trick, too, as long as they are meaningful. The inculcation of this mentality is the best to keep the staff motivated and treasured.
- Be Respectful
It is not only the freshers or juniors responsible for respecting their seniors. Respect is a two-way street and both the managers and juniors should respect each other. Mutual respect, understanding, and empathy form the basis for a psychologically safe environment. These traits help generate a cooperative workforce and bring to force a welcoming space.
- Set an Example
It is not justified to call out your juniors or employees on things you have been doing the same way. They will follow you, it is obvious. It is thus important you lead by example to make the employees feel safe. This means apologizing when you make a mistake, demonstrating considerate communication, showing empathy, and asking for help when you need it.
According to Workplace from Meta research, Fifty-eight per cent of UK employees would consider leaving their job if company leaders didn’t show empathy to staff needs. The output generated by a healthy mind will be far better than the one that is in an unsound condition.
- Give Voice to the Unheard
Research shows that hierarchical behavior can stifle experimentation because it puts the onus on an individual, rather than an entire team. Take note of employees who are least active in group settings or meetings and have a one-on-one talk with them to address the issue. Even in the meeting, ask them for their opinion which will not only bring forth innovative ideas but also create a sense of belonging, invaluable for a psychologically safe environment.
- Empathy is Key
More often than not, we know nothing about what is going on with our colleagues. Leader and the co-workers should be able to emphasize with each other on work as well as personal problems. This practice will build trust and empower the silence to uncover. The more we get to know and understand our colleagues, the more we can trust each other.
The concept at hand can be moving, empowering and sometimes, all that a company needs to be on the track of growth and development. Do not second guess the important psychological safety exercises carry and be ready for the benefits they will bring for your company as a whole.