Psychological safety at work

Creating a psychologically safe environment is one of the five key dynamics that sets successful teams at Google apart. A psychologically safe environment is one in which people feel comfortable in taking risks without feeling insecure.

The NY Times article, that goes into some detail about Google’s Project Aristotle, talks about an interesting incident. A mid level manager Matt Sakaguchi approached the researchers to do a survey for his team. Surprised with the survey results, he called for an offsite to discuss them. During the meeting, he revealed to everyone that he had a Stage 4 cancer and that he is not going to get better. Here’s what followed quickly.

No one knew what to say. The team had been working with Sakaguchi for 10 months. They all liked him, just as they all liked one another. No one suspected that he was dealing with anything like this. After Sakaguchi spoke, another teammate stood and described some health issues of her own. Then another discussed a difficult breakup. Eventually, the team shifted its focus to the survey. They found it easier to speak honestly about the things that had been bothering them, their small frictions and everyday annoyances.

Teams in Space

Dr. Lauren Blackwell Landon, a research scientist at the NASA Johnson Space Center, spoke at the re:Work 2016 event about preparing a team to go to Mars. She explains how important it is to create a safe environment so that high achievers and leaders can take lead or follow as is required. Asking dumb questions, making suggestions and throwing away ideas can only happen freely in an environment where everyone feels safe. She talks how astronauts use regular debriefs to address issues and work toward psychological readiness to ensure mission performance and safety.

Use Pep to Flag issues

Inspired by the need to create a safe environment in a workplace, Pep now helps you flag issues anonymously. Anonymously because we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. Logging an issue lets you bring your problems in front of your team. Think of it as a call for discussion, without revealing your identity, so your team can talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations and resolve issues.

Just send flag in a DM to Pep and it will take it from there.