“If you see a suspicious bag left entirely unattended, you have permission to alert a member of our security staff,” said no one working at an airport EVER. Heck no.
“If you see something, say something” are the words to live by. This is a command — not an invitation — to be honest in an out-loud sort of way. No grumbling under your breath, or filling out a “travelers’ engagement survey” four months from now complaining about this bag. If you see something, say something. Out loud. Right now.
If we buy into the above (I buy into the above), and we believe that safety is an outcome that commands real-time honesty and outloudness (new word of 2017), then why do we not hold ourselves and our teams accountable to the same standard at work?
Harvard professor Amy Edmondson coined the term psychological safety “to capture the degree to which people perceive their work environment as conducive to taking… interpersonal risks. In psychologically safe environments, people believe that if they make a mistake others will not penalize…them for it…” Further, she argues that “creating conditions of psychological safety is essential to laying a foundation for effective learning in organizations.”
I believe psychological safety is both real and relevant. But it’s miles (or kilometers!) from sufficient.
Organizations that thrive today are those whose teams don’t just feel safe enough to take risks, ask hard questions, share out-there ideas. Those that thrive are comprised of teams who feel compelled to do this every day.
It’s not an invitation to which they’ve RSVP’d “yes.” It’s an imperative in whose essentialness they believe.
There are opportunities that surround us every day. Maybe we’re on the verge of inventing the next breakthrough technology…but more likely, we’re on the verge of identifying the tiniest tweak that will unlock our most outstanding customer service.
And when one of our team members feels not just invited, but compelled to always be seeking the things that can enhance us, make that suggestion, to be willing to test his idea and see its impact, to be unafraid that it might not hit the mark – that’s precisely the type of incremental improvement that creates impact, contribution, meaning, traction.
I believe psychological safety is a stepping stone on the path to #SuperCandor, and that SuperCandor – when embraced and harnessed by our leaders is what lays out both the imperative to be outloud, and path to getting there.
Fueled by SuperCandor, we are positioned to drive the efficiency, the agility, and the innovation that will truly move us forward.
That will make work work again.