What makes the team successful and effective? It’s psychological safety, according to Google’s Aristotle project.
It says, “Psychological safety refers to a belief that a team is safe for risk-taking without being seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive. In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.”
If your team has high psychological safety, it will improve team collaboration, work output, and increase work efficiency. But how do you create it in a remote workplace?
Here are the 5 ways to get started:
1. Lead by example
As with most team cultural aspects, psychological safety is something that needs to practice by leaders to set an example. You can’t force it on anyone and behave yourself otherwise. Instead, share your mistakes (it shows vulnerability) to show it’s OK to make them as long as you correct them soon.
Here are some ways to lead by example:
a) Acknowledge your mistakes when you make them.
b) Actively listen to other opinions.
c) Consider from your employee’s point of view: give them the freedom to work as they like (as long as they achieve the results) and avoid blaming.
d) Focus on building team relationships by encouraging them to do 1-on-1 get-to-know-each-other calls. It’ll build trust and improve team collaboration. Start with you talking with some of your employees.
2. Build a culture where no one shames anyone for experimenting/risk-taking
Mistakes are essential to progress and innovation. So, encourage your employees to think differently and implement their ideas without fearing they’ll lose their job or be shamed if they make a mistake.
Your employees won’t feel safe if you say this, but only if you act on your words after someone makes mistakes. For example, never punish, blame or humiliate someone when they blow it. Instead, give them the confidence that it’s OK to err and ask them to learn from it and not repeat it.
Also, give private feedback and tell them how they can reduce their mistakes. Entertain their questions and help them improve.
3. Set up your employees for success
If you don’t give your employees any tools, you shouldn’t expect them to maximize their output. Simple as that. Every worker requires the right resources to succeed—a marketer needs the necessary software to collect data and make decisions, and a designer requires the right design tools to succeed.
So, ensure you set up your employees for success by providing the right tools and resources from day 1. Here are some ways to do so:
a) Ask your employees what they need to do excellent work and ensure you provide them with that.
b) Pay them an annual learning/growth fee—so anyone can buy courses, app subscriptions, or access paid communities to upskill themselves.
c) Host training sessions by experts.
4. Be open to feedback
Your employees shouldn’t be afraid to challenge you if they disagree. But that will only happen if you listen to honest feedback and implement the advice.
The first thing you can do is involve your team in decision-making. Ask them to challenge your opinions (if they disagree) by sharing viewpoints backed by data/examples. Initially, many won’t, but if you work on some of the right views and correct others (explaining why you’re right instead of ridiculing them), everyone will start sharing.
Another way is to schedule regular 1-on-1 meetings to listen to how you can improve and what you can do to make their work easier. To make it easier for anyone to give feedback, you can take an anonymous survey—so they feel safe and provide feedback without fearing anything.
5. Get behind your team
Support your team at every stage—whether good or bad.
When an employee underperforms, listen to them, and help them identify and get rid of their shortcomings. And when someone performs exceedingly well, credit them in front of everyone (via an all-hands remote meeting) and reward them with the right incentives.
This will boost their confidence and encourage them to work harder, experiment, and improve.