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Psychological Safety at Work

Psychological Safety at Work


Amy Edmondson, one of Harvard University’s most respected management thought leaders. Her work focuses on teamwork and the ways leaders can build teams to work more effectively together.

In the three-minute video below, Dr. Edmondson shares some of the groundbreaking insights from her book, The Fearless Organization.

Recently, Google did a massive four-year story to discover the differentiator between great teams and not-so-great teams.

The biggest differentiator—by far—was psychological safety. That was stunning news to me.

I think of Google as being full of unbelievably smart people who wouldn’t necessarily have a problem sharing what they’re thinking.
But it turns out—no. Even at Google, the safety people felt varied greatly from team to team. And that made all the difference.

We live in a knowledge economy. It is the knowledge people bring with them to work that really adds value in the marketplace.

So, it stands to reason that we need to hear from people. And yet, the research is overwhelming—many people feel they can’t speak up at work. We’re losing enormous value.

  • We may be missing out on a game-changing idea.
  • We might miss an early warning of a threat in the market.

When a leader apologizes for not having made it safe in the past, it can be very powerful.

Rather than reacting spontaneously with, “why didn’t you come to me?” leaders should take the time to ask how they may have contributed to their employees not feeling safe to speak up.

Most employees are well-intentioned and smart. If employees don’t speak up, we can almost always assume the leader has not created a psychologically safe environment.

The ability for people to speak up at work is absolutely mission critical to success in a knowledge economy.