"Do We Really Need "Safe Spaces" at Work?"
Do We Really Need "Safe Spaces" at Work?
We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a meeting with your team, brainstorming ideas, and someone suggests something. Another member of the team responds with a sigh and rolls their eyes at the proposed plan. Everyone sees it happen and yet no one says anything. Immediately your stomach sinks and you see the person who suggested the idea close up and stay quiet for the rest of the meeting. What innovations did your team miss out on because this person stopped talking? The reality is that you’ll never honestly know.
We live in a cultural moment where there is an ongoing argument about whether we need “safe spaces” in our society. Needing “safe spaces” is often presented as evidence of mental weakness or low resilience in a person or organization. What if this wasn’t true, though? What if creating “safe spaces” wasn’t evidence of a deficiency in your organization, but a sign that you were on your way to growing your business and increasing profitability?
In a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled, “The Two Traits of the Best Problem-Solving Teams,” Alison Reynolds and David Lewis studied leadership teams to see what traits made it easier for teams to solve complex, growth inhibiting problems within their organization. They found that,
“The groups that performed well-treated mistakes with curiosity and shared responsibility for the outcomes. As a result, people could express themselves, their thoughts and ideas without fear of social retribution. The environment they created through their interaction was one of psychological safety.
They then went on to describe psychological safety as the ability to create spaces within the organization where team members, “will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” Creating these spaces is a dangerous endeavor, though. Many leaders in businesses tend to be content experts, not emotional intelligence experts.
In fact, the authors found that,
Without behaviors that create and maintain a level of psychological safety in a group, people do not fully contribute — and when they don’t, the power of cognitive diversity is left unrealized. Furthermore, anxiety rises and defensive behavior prevails.
What the authors describe is the current state of many organizations. It then becomes necessary to have someone who has the tools and strategies to consult with you as you build these types of spaces within your organization. I specialize in helping organizations create psychological safe spaces for their teams. Whether it’s running workshops that train your team on how to call in, rather than call out or how to identify those micro-behaviors that destroy psychological safety every day within your workspace, I will give your team the tools to be able to create psychological safe spaces and increase your ability to solve the complex problems.
Diversity & Inclusion goes beyond being able to talk about race, gender or sexuality in the workplace. True inclusion won't’ happen until we realize that the research is showing us that how we treat each other matters. Let me help you create a workspace where your team knows how to treat each other in ways that allow for your organizations' continued growth and expansion.