Psychological Safety is the shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. A concept in existence since the 1960s, Harvard Business School Professor, Dr. Amy Edmonson, coined the term in the 1990's, studying its impact on team performance. Google, in a separate study known as Project Aristotle, found psychological safety to be #1 driver to high-performing teams.
Have you ever been so afraid to fail that your fear actually caused you to fail? Whether because you reacted too slowly or feared looking foolish - today you likely wonder how would it have ended up if you hadn't been fearful. A team fearing failure lacks psychological safety, a perception that ultimately jeopardizes greatness. Scores are calculated using the seven factors of psychological safety and can range from -100% to +100%.
Higher psychological safety scores reflect a team that views missteps as natural obstacles in the journey to success. Generally, these teams will work more creatively, collaboratively, and support one another in in an effort to solve big problems or achieve great results.
Lower psychological safety scores reflect teams that fear making mistakes - either fearing formal repercussions such as disciplinary action taken by the company or social consequence like being viewed as incompetent by colleagues and company leaders. Although a certain level of caution can be healthy to deter teams from reckless behavior such as overspending or investing company time and resources on projects not aligned with company priorities, inordinantly low psychological safety scores suggest a team working to avoid trouble rather than working to drive success. Jockeying to be the best on the team versus advocating for the best solution can lead to silos. People hoarding information, where each member of the team attempts to solve for the same issue, fails to leverage the power of collaboration.