Psychological Safety and Team Dynamics

Last February - I was in India - discussing why bullying/harassment is bad for decision making and therefore bad for business.  Turns out I am not the only one looking into this connection.

Google has been studying what makes for effective teams. This is what they found.

For those of you who don't want to click through and read the article - the answer is psychological safety. The best performing teams are teams where members feel safe. This in turn means they feel safe to share their thoughts - and advocate for what they think will be a more effective solution. 

No safety - no real discussion. No real discussion - the solution chosen is based on who is dominant, not who is right.

This is exactly what I was discussing in India and the case I keep making for adopting humanistic management.

If people are socially excluded – decision making suffers.   Psychological safety is another way of saying -  making sure everyone is included.  Exclusion of one person leads to stress to the others who fear – I may be next.  It has a dampening effect on dissent and makes rational dissent very difficult – and again – that’s bad for problem solving.

The challenge – how to create that?

We can hire people for compatible traits – conscientiousness, openness etc. We can also work to help protect those who are excluded.  the good news is that we can also use science.  Science can teach us how to get rid of unwanted behaviors and how to encourage the ones you do.

If you have bad outcomes despite good intentions, it's probably because your organization has perverse incentives - meaning you are accidentally rewarding the behavior you don't want and punishing the behavior you do.  It happens all the time.  The solution is often to flip things upside down and really consider how your rewards and responses are being used and to consciously change the dynamic by changing what you reward.

I have several courses and training programs that will help you do that over at.

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