With the sudden reliance on virtual teams, organisations are often ill-equipped with the knowledge of how to build psychologically safe teams within low cue online environments.
As the stress of COVID-19 continues to take its toll, getting team culture right has never been more important, or more challenging. Understanding how to build psychological safety within on-line environments is critical to the future success of tomorrows organizations and teams.
We have a range of virtual training programs which provide leaders and teams with the tools to thrive and survive in the current environment. We are also able to adapt all our core workshop content to virtual learning environments.
“Speaking to large numbers of leaders and organisations throughout COVID-19, it has become clear that the leaders who have shone and teams that thrived amid the chaos, were ones that made it safe to speak up, take a risk, volunteer ideas, where it was okay to not be okay and to ask for help – they operated with a sense of ‘Psychological Safety’. Teams that thrive in the uncertain future of work, will bring these types of cultural attributes forward with them in their new ways of working”
Our workshops cover both the intra and interpersonal building blocks of psychological safety. They also go beyond this to provide critical team-based training experiences aimed at uplifting and resetting team culture.
In order to build psychologically safe teams, people need to know how to respond to difficulte motions and experiences. This is even more important given the cumulative and sustained stress of COVID-19 and the need to manage workloads and teams through this incredibly disruptive experience. Opening up to challenging and risky conversations, or volunteering ideas on different approaches to old problems, can be uncomfortable.
Knowing how to use curiosity to navigate these contexts is critical. Our aim is to enable people to become more comfortable with their discomfort – we like to use the term discomfortable – so that they can lean into difficult personal and interpersonal situations safely.
The new ways of working we have all been subjected to are stretching our interpersonal skills. Whether it be low cue environments, ‘Zoom Doom’, or the cumulative stress of COVID-19, our ability to interpret and respond to others appropriately is being put under a new set of pressures that few are well equipped to respond to. Building these capabilities will be critical moving forward.
Why are curious conservations so critical in the modern workplace? Robust interpersonal relationships and a flourishing organizational culture turn on the capability for assertive, respectful, and open communication. From the executive to the front line of an organization, effective risk management depends on the ability to interrogate and openly report issues of organizational significance. The capacity to engage in productive disagreement is also critical to building mentally healthy workplaces defined by high levels of engagement.
Yet, few people have the skills, and even less so the confidence, to step into challenging conversations. This means that people often do not feel heard, that inappropriate behaviour remains unaddressed, and that decision-making may be unduly influenced by the status quo or a limited number of viewpoints. Building the capability to engage in challenging conversations is critical to fostering a psychologically safe work environment.
Whether it is managing conflicts of interest, identifying and responding to vulnerable customers, upholding interpersonal and team behaviour, providing supportive leadership, or maintaining a safe working environment, the ethical dimensions to these everyday matters are often complex and grey. Too often the solution is to focus on a compliance approach.
Educating employees on what they should and should not do or relying on code-of conduct or grievance and whistle-blower provisions, does not take this complexity seriously. These current best-practice approaches fail to provide employees with the tools they need to reason their way through grey-area ethical problems and fall short of changing behaviour.
If organizations are to respond meaningfully to the everyday ethical dilemmas they are faced with, they need to empower their employees to become moral agents and equip them with the insights and purpose to navigate ethical decision-making and behaviour. Moving forward, a failure to engage meaningfully with work place ethics will result in lost opportunities to attract socially conscious consumers and employees and will have a clear impact on the bottom line.
Supportive leadership provides the safety net for building psychologically safe environments. If staff are to speak up, take interpersonal risks, or volunteer ideas, they need to feel confident their leaders not only will support them, but know how to support them effectively. Leading for a psychologically safe environment can be challenging.
It often means taking the first step by volunteering appropriate vulnerability, having the confidence to say ‘I don’t know’, and role modelling that it is ‘okay not to be okay’. Enabling leaders with the confidence, insight, and emotional balance to take these steps with their teams, and to support others to do the same is fundamental to building psychologically safe team climates.
Teams in which it is safe to speak up, take interpersonal risks, volunteer ideas, and where it is okay to not be okay are the ones that will thrive in the turbulent times we are all facing into. Setting the tone, developing shared norms, and creating shared experiences, comes with a range of complex challenges under the new ways of working, but getting culture right has never been more important.
A cornerstone of building psychological safety within teams is through shared experience. Providing teams with the opportunities to practice the principles and skills required to build a psychologically safe environment is where the ‘rubber hits the road’.
Designed for a whole of team approach, these workshops enable people to see why they are agents of change, how they can influence and take responsibility for team culture, and how to lean into robust and respectful conversations. By building these team-based capabilities, our aim is to equip organizations to manage complex and challenging environments.
Successfully influencing organizational culture requires that senior executives are not only seen to be supportive, but that they share key behavioural capabilities and insights. If employees are to feel safe to share risky ideas, speak up, challenge issues, and show vulnerability, they need to know that the senior executive understands what they are doing and knows how to respond. Our senior executive briefing is designed to provide this insight, with a focus on key capabilities and understanding of core concepts.
We believe that an integrated approach to learning and culture change is fundamental to success. Working with a range of organizations we have successfully adapted our face-to-face and on-line training material into E-learning modules.
Whether to enable roll-out across large organizations, or to provide annual or bi-annual refresher material, our E-learning capabilities provide a range of solutions for building and maintaining psychologically safe workplaces.