Psychological Safety - Is it safe to be truly engaged?

Employee engagement is the state that is achieved when a person invests their true-self fully into their work role in the pursuit of work goals.  In contrast, when a person finds themselves in potentially threatening situations, performances are almost bound to be guarded an focus will shift to self protection. A psychologically safe environment is one where employees are able to show and employ their true-self in their work without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career.  There are four specific areas that managers and leaders can review in order to help create an environment where people feel they are able to give their best to their job without negative and unwarranted consequences.

Quick Poll

At work I feel able to channel my energy and talent into the things that are going to make the biggest difference to the success of the organisation.
Every day
Most days
Some days
Never !!

#1 Interpersonal relationships

Create ongoing relationships that offer support, trust, openness, and flexibility. Ensure that this is the norm within the team as well, and if this is not currently the case, be active in promoting this type of culture within your team and organisation. (Everyone has a personal responsibility for this, not just leaders).  

#2 Group & Inter-group dynamics

Within the team or group as well as between teams or groups, ensure that active participation does not put participants at a disadvantage. Also ensure that interaction is structured in such a way that there is enough room in the equation for people to express their true-selves. Blame, ridicule, humiliation, and dismissive responses are all examples of interaction that send warning messages to other participants. 

#3 Management style and process

Leaders who are supportive, resilient, consistent, trustworthy, and competent help to create a sense of security. Why would a person fully engage when they do not believe in the competence of the manager or management?  

#4 Organisational norms

Clear and shared expectations regarding behaviours, emotions and ways of working, help provide consistency and a sense of safety in knowing how one needs to be in the specific environment. Nevertheless, flexibility within the generally accepted approach is needed as well if an individual's unique contribution is to be brought to the surface.

 "In summary, for most employees to allow themselves to put their heart and soul into their work and their workplace, they need to feel and believe that they are operating in an environment where they can be their true-self without undue fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career"

Scott Constantine - Organisational Development - Performance & Change


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(c) 2012 S.R Constantine. All rights reserved.