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Psychological Safety

February 20, 2019

What is it and how do I create it in my culture?

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Staff engagement is something to consistently strive for in the workplace.  We want team members to be enthusiastic participants rather than hearing crickets when asked questions.

The benefits of having engaged workers is a list that includes things like improved staff retention (which results in less hiring needs), less sick time and higher hospital profitability.  When engagement happens, our teams are happier.

If you are struggling with engagement in your hospital, you might want to look at your hospital’s psychological safety.

What is psychological safety?holding hands

The term “psychological safety” is defined as “a climate in which people are comfortable being (and expressing) themselves,” by Dr. Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School.  If your team members don’t speak up when they should, it might be because of the response they receive when sharing ideas.

Gallup data shows that only three out of every ten U.S. workers strongly agree that their opinions seem to count at work.  Why is that?  How do you respond to ideas from others?

A response that is met with criticism, immediate shutdown, or even a demand for all the details of how the idea is to be successful is not going to allow for a level of comfort or willingness to share from your team.   An environment that has physiological safety allows a team to express themselves without fear.  They are enabled to experiment and take risks.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?chicken or egg

Do we need to have team engagement to create a culture of psychological safety or do things needs to be ‘safe’ before a team becomes engaged?  In this scenario, the environment is key.

A team member is always going to start a new role with a certain level of engagement.  Whether it’s a new position, a new team, or a new hospital, people are and want to be involved at the start.  However, if you put them in an environment that is not ‘safe,’ this interaction will erode over time and eventually they will become disengaged.

How to start a culture shift to psychological safety.

It won’t surprise you that culture shift starts with your leadership team.  Having organizational structure and system processes in place is going to set the stage for your organization.

However, the behavioral side of culture is built person-by-person and day-by-day.  Your team needs to establish driving principles or values that support an environment of psychological safety and trust.  This comes by first ensuring the safety of the individual.  Once this is established, there is hope to improve overall engagement on your team.

If you don’t know how safe your team feels, ask them!

3 members of CATALYST VetPCHere’s to Team Psychological Safety

CATALYST VetPC Team

Resources: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236198/create-culture-psychological-safety.aspx