Google conducted an extensive internal study looking into 280 teams. They found one single factor which sets high performing teams apart from team with lesser performance. It’s not team composition based on education, skills or personality traits. The single factor leading to high performing teams is psychological safety, as defined by Amy Edmonson as the believe that you can bring your whole self to work, speak up and voice your opinion without the risk of being penalized. Google found that the teams that felt psychologically safe exceeded their sales revenue target by 17% and that teams that did not feel safe missed their target sale revenue by 19%. Next to this Google also learned that teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave, they are more likely to harness the power of creative ideas and were rated effective twice as often by executives. How does this work? When people feel more psychologically safe, they engage in more learning behaviour which leads to an increase in their performance.
Almost two decades ago, Patrick Lencioni, in his book ‘The five disfunctions of a team’, pointed out the importance of both interpersonal trust and fearlessly engaging in conflicts as the foundations for high performing teams. In our work with (leadership) teams in organizations it stands out that psychological safety is one of the most important conditions for this foundation to be build solid and strong. This raises the question: how do you build or increase psychological safety? It all starts with leaders taking deliberate action and setting the tone! Laura Delizonna from Standford University identifies the following five leadership behaviours to build psychological safety in organizations:
At &samhoud, we help leaders to engage more in these psychological safety enhancing behaviours. How? First, we provide more insight in current behaviour. Second, we give tools to change the behaviour. And thirdly, we intervene on the system as a whole in order to create sustainable behavioural change.
Would you like to know more about how you can build psychological safety and high performing teams in your organization? Contact our experts: Leonie Arkesteijn (email@example.com), Roosmaryn Spliet (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Koen Husmann (email@example.com).
Authors: Roosmaryn Spliet