Want to have better meetings? Start practicing psychological safety

Me (Wendy): “Bob, you’re so correct about the fear cultures that some management think it’s necessary to propel people to work hard, but in effect, it stifles innovation, creativity, and collaboration. According to Dr. Amy Edmondson (professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School who came up with the term psychological safety), in order to nurture innovation, creativity, and collaboration, we need to have the 4 components of psychological safety: 1) Inclusion & Diversity, 2) Attitude to Risk & Failure, 3) Willingness to Help, and 4) Open Conversation.”

Bob: “Hmm… do you mind expanding a little on those 4 components?”

Me: “Sure. Dr. Amy Edmondson says team members who feel included are more inclined to speak up, contribute and add to the group. Teams that hold mistakes against each other risk a lack of control and forward momentum. And when people are not able to help each other or feel appreciated by team members, teams become unsafe. Also, a team that has open and candid conversations is able to tackle hard problems better. According to Dr. Amy Edmondson, psychological safety is about cultivating a work environment that propels high performance for all employees. It is NOT about just making sure team members ‘feel good’.”

Bob: “In other words, a safe and trusting environment at work actually is better for a company, because the company ends up performing better.”

Me: “You got it.”

Bob: “Does diversity mean what I think it means – having a diverse representation?”

Me: “Well, if you mean diversity as in gender, age, religion, race, sexual orientation – it’s more than that.”

Bob: “Can you expand on that?”

Me: “Diversity is more than the usual ones HR thinks about. It’s really rather simple. Diversity is just anything that is different from you. So, for here, it means people have different ways of thinking (or neurodiversity), different ways of expressing things – remember VARK which we added to our training?”

Bob: “Yes! VARK is a form of diversity.”

Me: “Right on! But don’t forget, having diversity is not good enough. We need to have inclusion. I really like how Verna Myers put it: Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Bob: “Wow! I like that!”

Read Wendy’s entire story here

If you want to know more about how to apply psychological safety in your day-to-day work, check out the foundation of psychological safety.


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