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How To Create ‘Psychological Safety’ On a Hybrid Team

“Psychological Safety” was a term introduced by psychologists in the mid-2000s. “Team Psychological Safety” was introduced ten years later and is best understood as a climate in which team members are comfortable being themselves, trying new things, and taking risks.


Studies have demonstrated that team psychological safety is a central driver of team performance. 


Establishing a climate of safety and supportiveness has never been easy. Hybrid work will require managers to invest extra effort in rethinking and expanding psychological safety.


As Harvard Business Review explains it, managers have traditionally focused on enabling candor with respect to work content. With transition to Hybrid, as the boundary between work and life becomes blurry, leaders must make scheduling and coordination decisions that take into account personal circumstances — a categorically different domain.


In a Hybrid workplace, leaders must create an environment that encourages employees to share aspects of their personal situations as relevant to their work scheduling and/or trust employees to make the right choices, balanced against personal and team needs.    


HBR recommends a five-step approach to leaders:


1. Set the scene: Have a discussion with your team to help them recognize not only their challenges, but yours as well.


2. Lead the way: Expose your own vulnerability by sharing your own WFH/hybrid work personal challenges and constraints.


3. Take baby steps: Start by making small disclosures yourself, and then welcome others’ disclosures to help your employees build confidence that sharing is not penalized.


4. Share positive examples: Share your conviction that increased transparency is happening and is helping the team design new effective work arrangements.


5. Be a watchdog: Be vigilant and push back when you notice employees make seemingly innocent comments like “We want to see more of you”, which may leave employees feeling they’re letting their teammates down.


We really liked this excellent HBR piece as it recommends a practical approach to solving one of the new managerial challenges arising from Hybrid work.


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