How do you get the best work out of people? In a culture obsessed with competitive sports, we are familiar with the aggressive leadership styles of coaches who yell at their teams to motivate them. Does this tactic work?
Steph Altom, employee testing and engagement specialist at The Next Step, cautions against the broad application of such an approach. “People need to be motivated,” she said. “But not everybody is motivated that way.”
There is an old school thought that applies to many workplaces, says Ariel Cope, human resources director. “You are respected when you are feared.” Cope suggests a paradigm shift. “An effective leader gains respect because of the actions you take and the support you give them.”
One way a leader can support their workforce is to create a culture that values and encourages psychological safety. The goal is for people to express their true thoughts, feelings, and ideas without fear of negative consequences or retaliation.
Here are six ways to promote psychological safety in your workplace:
- Encourage open communication: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Encourage open communication by asking for feedback, listening actively, and responding constructively.
- Foster a culture of respect: Make sure all employees are treated with respect and kindness. Encourage employees to be respectful and empathetic towards each other.
- Lead by example: As a leader, model vulnerability and openness. Share your thoughts and feelings with your team and encourage them to do the same.
- Provide support: Make sure your employees have access to resources and support systems. This can include counseling services, mental health resources, and employee assistance programs.
- Address conflicts constructively and respectfully: Encourage open communication and seek to understand all perspectives.
- Encourage risk-taking: Encourage your employees to take risks and try new things. Let them know that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process and that they will not be punished for taking risks.
By creating a culture of trust and openness, companies can reap many benefits—including greater innovation, better team performance, and improved well-being among employees.