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Re: Working Solo and in a Team

by eyepopslikeamosquito (Bishop)
on Feb 18, 2017 at 00:58 UTC ( #1182253=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Working Solo and in a Team

I've had a bit more time to research psychological safety in the workplace.

In the Building a psychologically safe workplace TED talk, Amy Edmondson provides three examples of workplace silence, when voice was necessary:

  • A nurse, unsure of the dosage, considers calling the doctor at home ... but remembers the disparaging comments he made about her abilities last time she called.
  • A junior co-pilot too scared to query the senior officer about what looks to him like a serious error of judgement.
  • An executive too frightened to ask awkward questions about a proposed takeover that everyone else is enthusiastic about.

Why do these sorts of incidents happen?

  • No-one wants to look ignorant and incompetent!
  • Don't want to look ignorant? Don't ask questions.
  • Don't want to look incompetent? Don't admit weakness or mistake.
  • Don't want to look intrusive? Don't offer ideas.
  • Don't want to look negative? Don't criticize the status quo.
The above "Impression Management" strategy for self protection works. It turns out that humans have evolved to be pretty good at "Impression Management" -- in fact, most folks have mastered it well before they reach high school. This matters because not asking stupid questions robs an organisation of vital learning and innovation opportunities.

Psychologically Safe Workplaces

Psychological Safety is a belief that you will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. In a psychologically safe workplace, you are expected to speak up! For managers to create such an environment, Amy suggests:

  • Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem.
  • We need everyone's brains and voices in the game.
  • Acknowledge your own fallibility. Provide safety for speaking up.
  • Be a model of curiosity. Ask a lot of questions yourself.
Note that "Psychological Safety" is orthogonal to "Motivation and Accountability". Most organisations need both. If you have neither, well, you just have apathy. :)


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Re^2: Working Solo and in a Team
by nysus (Parson) on Feb 24, 2017 at 18:09 UTC

    I like this. But how do you handle personalities who undermine efficient operation by being too inquisitive and are too free to be intrusive? Having every decision getting questioned or second-guessed is probably just as bad as no decision getting questioned or second-guessed. It can be tough to find a good balance. All it takes is for a few people in one direction or the other to throw things out of whack and turn a good work environment into a dysfunctional one.

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