How do we gauge the level of psychological safety in our meetings?

(Last time, Bob and I talked about how we can start building psychological safety in our teams, basically one meeting at a time. Now, let’s dive back into our conversation.)

Bob: “Great! So, is there a way for us to gauge the level of psychological safety in our teams or meetings, Wendy?”

Me (Wendy): “ Yes! There are lots of questions and measurements one can take to gauge the level of safety. Let me start with Dr. Amy Edmondson’s 7 questions: 1) It is difficult to ask other members of this team for help. 2) No one on this team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts. 3) Working with members of this team, my unique skills and talents are valued and utilized. 4) People on this team sometimes reject others for being different. 5) If you make a mistake on this team, it is often held against you. 6) It is safe to take a risk on this team. 7) Members of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues. These questions measure each of the 4 parts of psychological safety that we already mentioned (open conversation, inclusion & diversity, attitude to risk and failure, and willingness to give help). These are not “true or false” answers. They are asked with a Lickert Scale. And notice, 3 questions are purposely in reverse.”

Bob: “I’ve seen those questions. Are we asking those questions from the people at every meeting?”

Me: “No, because we can’t be sure people are feeling safe at the meeting to answer those questions. There are a few things we can do. We can create an anonymous survey to be sent via email or Mentimeter or Google form, something like that, at the end of the meeting, for example.”

Bob: “That’s good, but people would get survey fatigue at some point. Plus, we’ve never gotten all the people to respond to surveys.”

Me: “Actually, we don’t want to ask those 7 questions after every meeting – we can do this once a quarter, so there won’t be survey fatigue. Also, having a 3rd party trusted facilitator to help facilitate a team discussion after computing and analyzing the survey results would be best because everyone in the team needs to be part of the dialogue. It’s difficult to wear both hats. The facilitator would help the team learn how to have a dialogue around strengths and weaknesses, and take the next steps.”

Bob: “Alright. We can do those things, but they seem to be more after the fact. Are there things we can do beforehand or even during these meetings?”

Me: “Yes. But can we discuss that next time? I gotta run!”

Bob: “Sounds good! Let me know when you’re back.”

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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