The Six Team Agreements to have psychologically safe meetings

Me (Wendy): “Other than Modern Agile’s suggestion on asking everyone to be CLEAR at the beginning of each meeting, there is another team agreement proposed by Dr. Amy Edmondson, also done at the beginning of each meeting. It is to ask the team to agree to the following six things: 1) We hold all stories or personal material in confidentiality. 2) Each person is treated with respect and dignity. 3) When we disagree, we focus on the idea, not the person. 4) We encourage a diversity of opinions on all topics. 5) We don’t need to be articulate to express ourselves. 6) We acknowledge that there is often a gap between intention and impact.”

Bob: “I assume it’s also the same that if people don’t act that way, we can point out that they are not doing what they agreed on. Like you said, Wendy, building psychological safety one meeting at a time.”

Me: “Exactly!”

Bob: “Great. However, I think some people might have some difficulty in understanding a few of those 6 points that Dr. Edmondson suggested. Let’s start with the first one – we hold all stories or personal material in confidentiality. I see a few members on our team who will likely ask exactly what that means. How do we explain that?”

Me: “Yes, a number of the items that Dr. Edmondson listed are somewhat meaty topics. We’ll have to dive into them and let people know what they need to do, especially if they are in the facilitator role.”

Bob: “Right.”

Me: “So, for your question, remember that funny advertisement for Las Vegas – “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?”

Bob: “Yes, I remember.”

Me: “Well, we can use that to illustrate the first point in Dr. Edmondson’s list. When people share things said in a meeting, we cannot just reshare personal stories or points outside of the meeting as if it’s ours to share. We need to get the person’s permission if we want to reshare their story outside of the meeting. The key here is that we share the main takeaway, not necessarily the stories, outside the meeting.”

Bob: “Exactly. Now onto the 2nd point: Each person is treated with respect and dignity. This should be quite self-explanatory. However, I want to point out that the “A” in CLEAR is part of it. When we’re dominating or interrupting people when they talk, that’s a sure way to disrespect people, so we need to avoid dominating or interrupting.”

Me: “That’s a very good point.”

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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