In 1999 Harvard Business School Professor of Leadership and Management Amy Edmondson discovered that Psychological Safety was the most crucial factor for determining team performance.
Edmondson defines Psychological Safety as including the following three traits:
- Team members have a shared belief the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking;
- Team members have a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up; and
- It describes a team climate characterised by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.
Other than academic circles, Edmondson’s discovery lay relatively dormant until 2012, when Google’s Julia Rozovsky (a Yale graduate) teamed with members from Carnegie Mellon University to discover the factors that drive team high performance within Google. Simply, Google wanted to know what factors drive the perfect team. The project was called Project Aristotle, and over 100 Google teams participated in the research. Over two years, an enormous amount of data was collected.
The researchers discovered that various factors matter. Dependability (trusting teammates to do their job), structure and clarity (setting clear goals), ensuring the work is meaningful for each team member, and achieving a positive impact on the organisation, are all critical factors for team performance. But none of them is as vital as Psychological Safety!
Edmondson has teamed with WeCare365 in Australia over the early part of 2023 to measure employee Psychological Safety throughout Australia. The result – only 33% of employees report working in psychologically safe teams. This outcome means two-thirds of employees are not performing near their potential, which is a concern for leaders. Action is needed, and Psychological Safety can be improved, but where do you start?
Based on Edmondson’s multiple decades of research, at Organisations That Matter we have designed a simple anonymous survey to quickly assess team and organisational Psychological Safety levels. Another way of describing Psychological Safety is to call it Team Resilience, which is the name for our survey. The survey (SAMPLE MODE) can be completed in less than 10 minutes. You can access all the questions here in our SAMPLE MODE or click on the QR code.
After completing the SAMPLE MODE, please Contact Us if you would like to arrange a tailored survey for your team or organisation, including a report and action plan on your current level of Psychological Safety.
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By Gary Ryan