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Psychological Safety in a Hybrid Workplace

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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An average person spends more than one-third of their life at work. You spend nine long hours each day working together with people you’ve never met before to complete 90,000 long hours of tasks. The ideal setting for all of these hours would be one that doubles as a psychologically secure location in addition to a workplace.

But what does a psychologically secure workplace look like?

Each person’s definition of psychological safety will vary depending on what they require from their workplace. Going by the definition by Wikipedia, “Psychological safety is the ability to share one’s thoughts and feelings without the risk of damaging one’s reputation or standing.”

The goal is to be able to be open and vulnerable in front of peers without worrying about being judged or mocked. 

This sense of security boosts group performance, establishes authenticity, fosters collaboration, etc. This is especially important for a hybrid workplace because team members’ intermittent absences from the office can prevent the formation of a lasting bond. Therefore, it is crucial to create a culture that values and heavily depends on a psychologically safe workplace. When the environment is psychologically secure, learning and motivation take control of the process, keeping anxiety and absenteeism at bay.

How to Create a Psychologically Safe Hybrid Workplace

Considering the importance of this topic, it is important for managers and leaders to take concrete actions to create psychologically safe workplaces. Here are a few best practices we have heard for successful HR leaders – 

Communicate with the employees

The secret to involving employees and giving them a sense of belonging is communication. This can be very helpful because it creates a setting where they feel comfortable speaking up and participating. When the statement “this workplace promotes healthy conversations” is made, questions are asked, ideas are brainstormed, and participation occurs. Declaring deadlines, responsibilities, and expectations can aid in removing obstacles and establishing a secure environment, even virtually.

Social engagements  whenever the teams visit the office 

The workday for the teams that are working from the office can be used for social events in hybrid workplaces. Human-centered workplaces plan social events like team lunches or fun activities to make things feel more personal. Seniors can observe behaviors in others even during office meetings and encourage those who appear to be shy to speak up by building their confidence.

Present opportunities to learn and grow

The best way to foster a psychologically secure environment is to give people plenty of chances to grow. Increased productivity is directly correlated to psychological safety, which shows that the team is developing and learning. There should be no hesitation when expressing new ideas, and that comes from establishing a culture like that in the first place.

Manager’s Role in Creating Psychological Safety in the Team

The team manager establishes the team culture, which reflects the beliefs of the organization. In order for everyone to stay in sync without restrictions, a manager must nurture their team with the proper freedom, attitude, and behavior. However, the role becomes more difficult when it comes to a hybrid workplace. To put it simply, managers have the ability to make or break a psychologically safe workplace.

Here is how it can be achieved.

Listen to your team to develop trust

The first step towards building a great team comes with the power of listening. It certainly demonstrates a lack of trust when a team member is unable to approach a manager with their problems, whether they are personal or professional. A manager should act as the team’s anchor, guiding them through the many waves of life. Being an empathic listener and assisting the team in developing trust through active listening would be the first step.

Never engage in the accusation and bias game

When members of the team are not afraid to make mistakes and accept them, the team feels secure. When something goes wrong, a manager should attempt to find a solution rather than place the blame on the team. As a result, the seniors and team develop a strong sense of trust, which encourages them to accept their imperfections rather than withdraw from themselves and give up. Another thing to stay away from when creating a psychologically safe space is bias. If a team member suspects they may be a target of manager bias, they never feel secure at work.

Take feedback, give feedback

Both accepting and giving timely feedback are crucial. A manager who is effective at establishing a cycle of giving and receiving meaningful feedback can easily foster a psychologically secure environment. In contrast to a manager who merely masters the art of execution, improving and being improved upon is the best quality a manager can hold onto to become the kind of leader a team desires.

Practice inclusivity and offer support

It can be very beneficial to involve your team in the process of decision-making or roadmap planning. Everyone can see and take part in the bigger picture thanks to this inclusivity exercise. Establishing an immediate safety net by demonstrating your confidence in others to handle more important tasks can produce better results and an unmatched drive to complete the task at hand. Nevertheless, your team still needs you outside of team meetings.

Creating a psychologically safe environment takes effort and time. To nurture this culture, we at Numly came up with a 60-day pilot program. With live sessions, networking, and exclusive content, this program assists managers in becoming better role models and implementing psychologically secure workplace practices.

Contact us to equip your managers with the skills necessary to foster a psychologically secure workplace.

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