[Power Hour Wrap-Up] How to build psych safety & trust

As a manager, how do you know if your team is psychologically safe under your leadership?

In The Mintable’s latest Power Hour, we took participants on a learning journey to understand exactly what the term “psychological safety” means and why it’s so important in a working context. We also gave our manager and HR participants the tools they need to invest in its creation.

Suffice it to say, psychological safety really matters.

A report run by Accenture proved that companies where the majority of employees felt psychologically safe at work saw:

  • 27% reduction in staff turnover
  • 50% more productivity
  • 76% more engagement

Read the wrap up below of the most important content from the hour.

What is psychological safety and trust?

Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson coined the phrase “psychological safety” in 1999. She defines the term to mean “an absence of interpersonal fear” and “a shared belief held by team members that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.”

In practice, this plays out in behaviors exhibited by teams that either display safety, or lack thereof.

Psychologically safe team members are likely to:

  • Feel comfortable sharing dissenting opinions
  • Recognize and respect each others’ differences both personally and professionally
  • Celebrate wins and failures (and use them as learning opportunities)
  • Communicate with frequency, transparency, and vulnerability

Psychologically unsafe team members are likely to:

  • Micromanage or feel micromanaged
  • Operate in silos
  • Claim and deflect failure
  • Take on a hero mentality
  • Keep the personal the professional entirely separate

Putting psychological safety into practice

1. Diagnose your team’s current status

There are several ways managers can diagnose psychological safety on their teams. If your company uses a platform like Culture Amp or Qualtrics to assess employee engagement throughout the year, you likely already have some of the data you need.

However, the most powerful tool at your disposal (whether you have access to data or not) is to simply use your powers of observation. Begin by introducing the topic of psychological safety to your team. Provide an agenda that covers:

  • What it is
  • Why it’s important to you as a manager to get this right for your team

Once you’ve set the stage with some baseline context around the subject, you can transition into sourcing their ideas and feedback for what to focus on going forward in order to increase safety and trust in your team. Ask them:

  • What does a psychologically safe team dynamic mean for you?
  • What has worked on teams you have been on in the past?
  • What would you prioritize for us to work on first as a team?

2. How to foster psychological safety

The best thing that you as a manager can do to build psychological safety on your team is quite simple – it’s to lead by example.

This means ensuring that you:

  • Lead with vulnerability
  • Communicate with transparency
  • Develop strong recognition practices
  • Drive accountability
  • Encourage collaboration

And that you definitely do not:

  • Be performative (all talk and no walk)
  • Overshare without purpose
  • Rely on criticism as the only source of feedback
  • Lose all sense of boundaries or standards
  • Avoid conflict like the plague

Troubleshooting trust issues

All of the above said, managers are humans (i.e. not perfect) so there’s always going to be the occasional problem to troubleshoot.

This could be anything from a manager reacting poorly in the moment, sharing confidential information, and your team resisting collaboration or fearing confrontation (and thereby not contributing).

Consider solutions like:

  • Giving enough context for people to be successful in their roles but not so much as to fuel speculation, competition, gossip or conflict
  • Offering a productive apology
  • Creating a manager code of conduct (and holding yourself accountable to it!)

Always remember… psychological safety is not built in any singular moment, it’s built over time across countless microinteractions and moments. Just like your brand as a manager.

A huge thank you to our Mintable Managers who joined us for the session. If you’re a Mintable customer and would like to watch the full recording of the session, head over to The Mintable platform. And if you missed our previous manager Power Hours (even if you’re not a Mintable Manager) you can catch up here:

Power Hours are included in all AdvanceMint memberships, you can see our Q1 schedule here. If you’re an HR or People pro looking to get your managers in on Power Hours – give our team a shout and learn more about our offerings to get started.