“The PeopleTalking team are leaders in the psychological safety global learning journey, in particular related to how to design and deliver programs to increase the level of psychological safety in organisations, drawing on the brilliant work of David Kantor and his Structural Dynamics model.”
Amy Edmondson

What is it?

Achieving high performance in uncertain, complex times requires having the confidence to take risks. When an organization minimizes the fear people feel on the job, performance — at both the organisational and the team level — is maximized. But how do you make your organisation fearless in a way that builds its capability?

A fearless organisation is one that provides psychological safety. But as more and more consultants, managers, and commentators are talking about psychological safety, the risk of misunderstanding what the concept is all about has increased. In a workplace, psychological safety is the belief that the environment is safe for interpersonal risk taking. People feel able to speak up when needed — with relevant ideas, questions, or concerns — without being shut down in a gratuitous way. Psychological safety is present when colleagues trust and respect each other and feel able, even obligated, to be candid.

Why is it important?

Psychological Safety is a gateway to team effectiveness.

Google studied team effectiveness for five years under Project Aristotle with the central question: What makes teams, objectively, successful?

Five important factors emerged that have a significant effect on team performance , with Psychological Safety being of primary importance:

  • Psychological Safety
  • Dependability
  • Structure
  • Meaning & Clarity
  • Impact

The other four factors of team effectiveness only prove to be valuable when a team is psychologically safe.

The relationship between Psychological Safety and Accountability & Motivation:

Holding people accountable is essential for getting the best from people, but without psychological safety it can create an environment characterised by stress and anxiety.

Psychological safety makes it easier for people to raise concerns and question the status quo, however, without accountability it can result in people feeling too comfortable – which can lead to poor performance and a lack of motivation.

The key is in balancing psychological safety and accountability (as shown in the image above).

When this happens, your team operates in a climate where they can contribute as their whole selves and and flourish without fear of repercussions.

As well as improving performance , this has a significant positive impact on wellbeing and workplace culture.