We recently wrote about What Makes a Great Team and you may recall that Google commissioned an extensive study, called Project Aristotle, to answer just that question. After studying over 180 teams and deeply analyzing the data, Google discovered that Psychological Safety was the most important contributing factor to create highly functional, productive and efficient team.
Psychological safety is present in an environment where the team members feel safe working with each other, are comfortable taking risks, being themselves and expressing vulnerability. Essentially, people feel comfortable to “be themselves” and “freely express their ideas and views” without the fear of being judged or alienated from the group.
One way to help create an environment that establishes and promotes psychological safety is through the time we spend “meeting” together. Within many organizations, a significant amount of time is spent in meetings. In fact, a recent study found that the amount of time we spend in meetings has increased by as much as 10% every year since 2000. Yet, 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings and 73% are working on other things while attending meetings! This doesn’t sound productive!
Looking to build some psychological safety at your next meeting?
Start by getting our free download here and learn three ways to transform your next meeting, . The strategies on this document are designed to set a foundation of psychological safety before your next meeting even begins.
After that, consider your own (and other’s) mindset as you dialogue on a meeting topic. How are you listening? As Stephen Covey says,
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Ask yourself, are you as willing to be convinced of a point of view different from your own, as you are trying to convince others of your own point of view?
Marc Andreesen, a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Netscape, talks about having “strong opinions, weakly held” which is an interesting way to characterize this. Be strong in your beliefs, but also be willing to hear, consider and possibly adopt, other viewpoints.
Jon Vroman, Founder of the Front Row Foundation and Front Row Dads, often talks about another tactical practice which you can implement in just about any conversation, personal or professional. He suggests consciously asking three questions in any encounter before reacting, sharing your beliefs or expressing your point of view. It’s actually a bit more challenging than you would expect and so I invite you to give it a try – next time you enter a conversation, ask three questions first and truly listen to the responses you receive.
The key to the above practice is that you must ask your questions from a place of true curiosity and be genuinely interested in the answers. Often we ask questions without really having a true desire for the answer or not fully listening to the response, so be aware of this.
In summary, ways you can help create Psychological Safety in your organization, the key factor which Google identified as the common denominator among high performing teams:
- Grab our free download and learn three ways to transform your next meeting
- Encourage real listening. Listen to understand, not to respond
- A willingness to truly consider and possibly adopt beliefs and points of view that may differ from your own
- Lead by asking questions from a place of genuine curiosity