Building a Psychologically Safe Workplace
Startup Codex

Amy Edmondson, an organizational behavioral scientist at Harvard Business School, is well known for her work on teams. Google used some of her work in their own studies. The ReWork site talks about the concept of Psychological Safety as the most important key dynamic for team effectiveness.

In this TedX, Edmondson illustrates the importance of psychological safety in a work place. And she offers three simple things individuals can do to foster team psychological safety:

  1. Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem.
  2. Acknowledge your own fallibility.
  3. Model curiosity and ask lots of questions.

First, frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem. Recognize, make explicit that there's enormous uncertainty ahead and enormous interdependence.

Given those two things, we've never been here before. We can't know what will happen. We've got to have everybody's brains and voices in the game. That creates the rationale for speaking up.

Second, acknowledge your own fallibility. You know you're fallible. Say simple things like, "I may miss something I need to hear from you." This goes, by the way, for subordinates and colleagues, peers alike. That creates more safety for speaking up.

And third, model curiosity. Ask a lot of questions. That actually creates a necessity for voice.

And so, these three simple things can go a long way towards creating the kind of workplace