In my opinion, when it comes to getting Psychological Safety into your team or organization, there is no better way to start than creating a level playing field, especially when disagreeing with your manager, boss, or CEO.
You would never have to worry about what you said in front of them, knowing that if you did say the “wrong” thing, they could neither “chew you out” nor act condescendingly and talk about you behind your back. i.e., You could only let each other know what you thought and why, as you compare each other’s proposals on their merits, reasonably, rationally, and responsibly.
“How could we get such a fair and just system,” I hear you say. “Is this Nirvana?”
No, it’s just the Psychological Safety environment that Amy Edmondson and Google’s Aristotle Project say how great teams function.
So, how could we get such a workplace?
Well, here is my solution, and it has several parallels with the playing field analogy.
For example, discussing Psychological Safety without including a Conflict Management process is like talking about soccer rules without including the need for a referee to enforce them.
We know that tackling the man instead of the ball is an infringement, and the referee will blow her whistle. If we protest too much or repeat the same offense, we could receive a yellow card. One more offense and it could mean a red card and result in a sending-off.
Now, imagine your team agreed to use similar rules of engagement, and it applied to everyone from the janitor to the CEO.
E.g. Say that you were having a discussion and the team leader browbeat you, telling you that your idea would not work and that you were a loose cannon for even suggesting it
You could object to her in real-time using a 1. CAUTION (same as whistle), or escalate to 2. OBJECT (same as yellow card), or escalate to 3. STOP (same as red card). After the third phase your objection is automatically posted on the Disputz Network (same as VAR – Video Assistant Referee) to be reviewed by our peers.
This is my proposal for what I believe will finally give us this level playing field.