Psychological Safety – The #1 Ingredient For High Performing Teams In The Remote Work Era

In 2021, Google invested millions of dollars in a ground-breaking study to discover the critical factors that lead to high functioning teams. Their researchers studied thousands of employees across hundreds of Google teams, unleashing the power of Google’s algorithms to sort through the data.

They hypothesised that the composition of a team (size, gender balance, etc) would make the biggest difference. They also wondered whether teams composed of people with similar personalities or values would perform best.

What they discovered surprised them.

Normally, studies like these reveal multiple contributing variables.

But this study showed that one single factor contributes to team performance far more than any other.

That factor? Psychology safety.

Psychological safety refers to an environment in which team members feel safe to take risks and express their opinions without fear of retribution or judgement.

This empowers employees to voice opinions, challenge the status quo, and try out innovative solutions to challenging problems (rather than playing it safe for fear of looking bad).

It also creates a high degree of social sensitivity, allowing team members to intuit each other’s emotional states and respond accordingly.

The findings of this research initiative, which was later named “Project Aristotle,” were published in The New York Times. Google now emphasises the importance of psychological safety in all of its’ hiring and team-building practices.

Psychological safety is even more important in modern workplaces, where remote-work and blended work models are common and the business environment is changing rapidly.

How To Rapidly Create Psychological Safety In Your Workplace

In my experience, Nonviolent Communication (Marshall Rosenberg) is one of the most effective methods for promoting psychological safety within teams.

NVC is based on the idea that effective communication requires both empathy and honesty.

Why is NVC so effective? Because the teams who use it

  • Take responsibility for their communication
  • Speak in a non-judgmental manner, promoting mutual trust
  • Foster empathy and reduce conflict
  • Experience less stress and anxiety in sensitive situations
  • Help team members feel heard and invested in team success

All this leads to more effective communication, collaboration, and ultimately, better team performance.

That’s why NVC is one of my favourite topics to deliver in keynotes and interactive workshops for organisations.

If you’d like to learn how to use this powerful tool and teach it to your team, you can click here to watch this short video.

Richard Chambers.

Ps. Here’s how you can receive my support to master NVC for yourself or teach it to your team.

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