Psychological safety is a term coined by Amy Edmondson (1999), a professor at Harvard Business School, to describe the shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. In other words, the sense of confidence that team members will not be reprimanded or ridiculed for speaking up, asking questions, or making mistakes.
Edmondson (1999) found that team psychological safety was a strong predictor of learning behavior, even when controlling for team efficacy. This means that team psychological safety was more important than team efficacy in predicting learning behavior.
When team members feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to take risks and learn from their mistakes. This learning behavior then leads to improved team performance.
4 key components of psychological safety:
➜ Team members feel valued and that their contributions matter.
➜ Team members feel safe to share their ideas, even if they are different than the norm.
➜ Team members feel comfortable making mistakes without fear of reprisal.
➜ Team members are confident that the team can resolve conflict constructively.
In Malaysia, Basit (2021) investigated the predictive role of trust in supervisors in job engagement. In the social context of work, the study examined the mediating roles of psychological safety and felt obligation in the trust-engagement relationship.
This study provides empirical evidence that trust in a supervisor can lead to psychological safety, which is linked to employees feeling more comfortable expressing themselves in their work and taking risks.
This satisfaction of the psychological safety need is an important socioemotional benefit. Psychological safety can lead to felt obligation, which is a sense of indebtedness that employees feel towards their employer. This can manifest in enhanced job engagement, as employees feel motivated to repay their employer for creating a psychologically safe workplace.
What LeadWomen is doing:
LeadWomen’s new Inclusive Playbook programme provides an engaging and interactive way to learn about psychological safety. The programme is based on pioneering research on the topic, and is designed to be a practical resource for leaders. Participants are provided with a range of activities to learn about safe workplaces and develop strategies for creating a more psychologically safe workplace environment.
The Inclusive Playbook is based on the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Training, a framework developed by UN Women and UN Global Compact to support gender equality in the private sector. The programme involves 4 areas: Leadership, Workplace, Marketplace, and Community. As the official Malaysia partner for UN Women, the content of the WEPs Training was adapted to take into consideration local context.
Speak to Shuen at email@example.com to learn more about the Inclusive Playbook programme.
1️⃣ Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(2), 350–383. https://doi.org/10.2307/2666999
2️⃣ Basit, A. (2021). Leadership and supervision (1st ed.). Routledge.