As you may know by now, Psychological Safety is the latest buzzword for organizations and teams, since everyone found out What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Although these authors and many others do an excellent job describing WHAT Psychological Safety is, there is still no standard recipe for explaining HOW psychological safety is achieved.
You only have to go to the Wikipedia Psychological Safety page to see that there are no actual examples of psychological safety being achieved yet.
That is, HOW it is achieved and WHAT exactly is the solution to remove psychological unsafety.
Lately, I have been trying to dissect Psychological Safety in the same way that we can separate Workplace Safety into its parts. Previously I talked about a psychological safety drill, and a psychological safety net. And now, I would like to talk about the psychological safety hazards in teams and organizations.
What are the Psychological safety hazards in organizations that we need to combat? The “Toxic workplace” seems to get a lot of mentions in blog posts I read, but what is a toxic workplace? What type of behavior is toxic? And how can we tackle it?
Above are the Aggressive and Submissive Psychological Safety Hazards that both usually rear their ugly head when we are in the process of decision-making, during discussions. When there is a disagreement, it is usually the loudest (aggressive) voice that seems to get heard, drowning out everyone else (submissive). This could be one reason that so many poor decisions are made by startups, resulting in 9 out of 10 failing. I have personal anecdotes of this happening to us on several occasions.
Organizations and teams should have a duty of care to actively remove such psychological safety hazards. Imagine if each team agreed to EMPOWER members to OBJECT, in real-time, to any behavior that is deemed hazardous or offensive. Using a simple safety drill or procedure to object to this type of misbehavior, and if the offender was not contrite, the dispute could be posted on the network to be reviewed by our peers. This makes me feel very calm and safe just thinking about it.