Psychological safety is a word that’s tossed around a lot today. And it’s what is required before you can go off and speak the truth with your other team members, or have them speak the truth to you.
The practice of building psychological safety requires building respect, trust and empathy with your team
.In my role, coaching many Fortune 100 teams, from the largest automobile comeback in history to working with the largest retailers and helping a small defense contractor become the largest in their industry, what has proven to work time and time again is creating teams that co-elevate each other up to achieve new heights together.
Before working with a new organization, the night before, I usually invite the executive teams out for dinner. Instead of focusing on small talk, what we do is focus on personal and professional check ins. A personal/professional check in allows you to go around the room and just ask your teammates what's going on in their life right now that's most important or most salient personally and professionally. On a personal basis, you could do it as quickly as 30 seconds to a minute. I might comment on what's going on with my kids. I might comment on some of the exciting things that I have or the frustrating things I have with core projects or some of the work life balance issues that we all struggle with. All of these issues come up when you do a personal/professional check in.
What this does is create a level of us in the room. That is a good foundation, particularly the more vulnerable and willing people are to share with each other. It's a good foundation for the pressured conversations we're going to have to have on the following day where we're pushing each other to show up with candor and accountability and critical thinking and collaborative dialogue and push back on each other's ideas. The next day, we share what I like to call a ‘Yoda Moment’. Yoda speaks the truth, yet many people are afraid to speak up and share their truth with others, especially if they feel there is no psychological safety beforehand. Since psychological safety is established the night before through personal/professional check ins, team members feel braver about sharing their truths with others.
Learn more about how to create great working relationships with co-elevating teams by watching this video.