Psychological Safety in Teams

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Almost a year ago Google published its research on how to build the Perfect Team.  Not only did the research show that people who work in teams are happier, spot problems faster, and produce solutions much more quickly; it showed that the relationships between team members matters, too.

Most of us have memories of being stifled in a group that was highly competitive and even feeling as though contributing to the group might be personally harmful from the risk of being wrong or even ridiculed.

The key to making groups tick ends up being about values and norms among peers – some of us call it culture.  If we can understand and impact the motivations and normative expectations of the group, then teams can improve dramatically.  What the article coined as “psychological safety” is the ability of a team to relax socially and without the potential fear of being a failure.  These groups stood out as the constant winners in productivity and creativity.

It certainly seems that this type of research endorses an age-old theme of supporting each other’s dignity.  Since the future of our work will almost certainly require being a part of a winning team we should spend time understanding how the quickest and most satisfying road to success demands the development of relationships.

Do you feel safe to be the most creative person that you can be?  Are you called as a leader to sponsor safety for others?  How do you do it?

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