Unlock the potential of your team with psychological safety—a catalyst for innovation, collaboration, and high performance.
Unlock your team’s potential with psychological safety—a catalyst for innovation, collaboration, and high performance.

Psychological safety is the cornerstone of effective teamwork and collaboration, essential for a positive employee experience. It fosters an environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgment or reprisal. In such an atmosphere, open dialogue flourishes, leading to more innovative solutions and better problem-solving. Team members are encouraged to share their thoughts, opinions, and concerns, knowing they will be met with empathy and respect. This sense of security enables teams to navigate challenges confidently and adaptably, ultimately driving productivity and success

What is psychological safety?

Psychological safety refers to the shared belief within a group or team that it is safe to take interpersonal risks. It involves feeling confident that one will not be punished, embarrassed, or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. In psychologically safe environments, individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves authentically, contributing their thoughts and opinions, and engaging in open dialogue without fear of negative consequences.

Why is psychological safety so important?

Meeting the need for safety is essential for experiencing stability and peace, allowing us to fully utilize our potential. The assessment of the environment as safe or threatening occurs unconsciously. When we feel safe, our bodies remain in autonomic balance. It’s an optimal state for our organism because it promotes well-being, learning, problem-solving, creativity, and development. When we feel safe, we are focused on genuine contact with another person: we hear human speech better, speak more calmly, and make eye contact. When we open up to contact with other people in this way (because we feel safe), we invite them to do the same because our facial expressions, tone of voice, and positive attitude signal that we are safe for the environment, not a threat. All these signals inform people around us that our body is calm and not preparing for an attack, so they can feel safe around us.

How to measure your team’s levels of psychological safety

Measuring your team’s levels of psychological safety is crucial for understanding its dynamics and identifying areas for improvement. While psychological safety is a subjective experience, there are several methods and approaches you can use to assess it within your team:

  1. Surveys and Questionnaires: Design surveys or questionnaires specifically tailored to measure psychological safety within your team. Include questions that assess team members’ perceptions of trust, openness, willingness to take risks, and fear of speaking up. Consider surveys such as employee satisfaction, employee wellness, employee motivation or work-life balance surveys. Use Likert scales or open-ended questions to gather qualitative and quantitative data. You can also utilize validated psychological safety scales, such as those developed by Amy Edmondson.
  2. Anonymous Feedback: Provide team members with opportunities to share feedback anonymously. This can be done through suggestion boxes, online platforms, or confidential surveys. Anonymity can encourage honesty and openness, allowing team members to express their true thoughts and feelings without fear of repercussions.
  3. Observational Assessment: Observe team interactions and dynamics during meetings, brainstorming sessions, and collaborative activities. Pay attention to nonverbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice, which may indicate levels of comfort or discomfort. Note how team members respond to challenges, feedback, and conflicting opinions.
  4. One-on-One Interviews: Conduct individual interviews with team members to explore their experiences, perceptions, and concerns regarding psychological safety. Use open-ended questions to encourage honest and in-depth responses. Focus on understanding specific instances where team members felt either supported or inhibited in expressing themselves.
  5. Peer Evaluations: Implement peer evaluations or 360-degree feedback mechanisms to gather insights from multiple perspectives within the team. Encourage team members to provide feedback on each other’s communication styles, collaboration skills, and willingness to take risks. Compare self-assessments with peer assessments to identify discrepancies and patterns.

How can you influence the sense of safety in a team?

Improving psychological safety within your team is crucial for fostering an environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves, taking risks, and collaborating effectively. Here are seven tips to enhance psychological safety on your team:

  • Lead by example: As a leader, your behavior sets the tone for the team. Demonstrate vulnerability by admitting mistakes, asking for feedback, and showing empathy towards others. Encourage open communication, active listening, and constructive feedback. When team members see you modeling these behaviors, they are likelier to feel safe doing the same.
  • Establish clear norms and expectations: Clearly define team communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution expectations. Encourage respectful disagreement and emphasize that all perspectives are valued. Create guidelines for giving and receiving feedback, ensuring it is constructive and focused on behaviors rather than personal attributes.
  • Encourage participation and inclusivity: Actively solicit input from all team members, regardless of their seniority or role. Create opportunities for everyone to contribute to discussions, decision-making processes, and problem-solving activities. Foster an inclusive culture where diverse perspectives are welcomed and respected.
  • Foster trust and support: Build trust within the team by being reliable, honest, and supportive. Encourage team members to support each other, celebrate successes, and offer assistance when needed. Establish a mutual respect and appreciation culture, where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute their ideas.
  • Embrace failure as a learning opportunity: Shift the team’s perspective on failure from something to be avoided to something to learn from. Emphasize that mistakes are opportunities for growth and innovation, encouraging risk-taking and experimentation. Create a safe space where team members feel comfortable admitting their mistakes and sharing lessons learned.
  • Provide psychological safety training: Offer training sessions or workshops focused on building psychological safety within the team. Educate team members about the importance of psychological safety and provide practical strategies for enhancing it. Use interactive exercises, case studies, and role-playing to facilitate learning and engagement.
  • Regularly assess and reflect: Continuously monitor the team’s psychological safety by soliciting feedback, conducting assessments, and reflecting on team dynamics. Encourage open dialogue about the team’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Use feedback to adjust strategies and interventions to better meet the team’s needs.

Empower psychological safety through Dymphna

Dymphna, a platform designed for early detection of burnout and depression, can play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing psychological safety in the workplace. By providing employees with a confidential and non-judgmental space to assess their mental well-being, Dymphna empowers individuals to recognize and address potential issues before they escalate. This proactive approach not only helps to prevent burnout and depression but also fosters a culture of openness and support within the organization. When employees feel supported in managing their mental health, they are more likely to feel psychologically safe to communicate their challenges, seek assistance when needed, and contribute fully to the team. Moreover, Dymphna’s data analytics and reporting capabilities enable employers to identify trends and patterns in mental health across the organization, allowing for targeted interventions and resources to further promote psychological safety and well-being in the workplace.