How do you want people in your team to feel? It’s the F word. We probably don’t talk about feelings too much, but actually they’re kind of core in the workplace, and when our emotional needs aren’t met, this is where we get dissonance. I’m going to offer you some questions. You might have some of your own, and what I’d like you to do is, I’d like you to have a little read through those feelings and maybe pick one or two.
How do you want the people that work with you to feel when you’re working together? The other thing you might want to start thinking about, what would that look like? If you were appreciated and supported, what would people be doing around you that might they might not be doing now?
What I’m seeing a lot in business and in academia is that we very often have values and behaviours about what we want to see on a wall but actually, when we get down into our teams, what do we want? What does that look like? What does value… Value can be really different to each of you. I spoke to someone at the university and said, ‘What does valued look like to you?’ He said, ‘Can I be really honest?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘It means that when we do graduation I’m not left in the office back at the university, and I’m able to go to the graduation.’ He said, ‘That’s all I want, to feel part.’ I said, ‘Well, how can you make that happen?’ He said, ‘I need a different conversation.’
It’s different for everybody, and again, it’s really important. taking on from this, the F word or this feeling word, about how we want to feel at work, I’m just going to introduce you… Some of you might have heard of the concept of psychological safety. It’s becoming more common in the workplace, I guess. Psychological safety is actually really key to any team. Any team group, research group, success relies on what we call psychological safety, and it’s absolutely crucial if we’re going to innovate and be creative.
It actually looks like, do people feel valued and appreciated and included? Does their contribution matter? Are they listened to? Do they feel that they have control of their work? Is it safe to speak up, and do we have permission to fail and get it wrong? Everybody is responsible, as I said, for actually creating that safety. some of the teams and groups that I’ve gone to work in is that there’s some element of psychological safety that’s not being met, and again, it has a real impact on well-being.
I was talking to some people in the university. It was a team that I’ve been working with, and three of them when we started having this conversation said that they feel anxious in the morning before they go to work, because the person that they report in to, they’re not too sure what the mood’s going to be and they don’t actually feel safe, or what we call psychologically safe. again, as I say, there’s probably lots of research coming out at the moment because it’s something that’s infiltrating into the workplace and people are realising that actually it’s absolutely core.
Just have a think about those words that are on there, and just have a think about how psychologically safe do you feel in your role right at the moment. Then I just want you to pick one of the words. I don’t know if you want to… I’ll give you an example. if I pick listen to, how would somebody know? That would mean for me, if I was being listened to, that the other person wouldn’t interrupt me.
I want you to pick one of those words, and how might… What’s the behaviour that you would want to see? How would we know? How would we know that you felt appreciated or valued, or had control of your work? Again, just pick one of those and just do yourself some scribbles. I’m just going to share some things. These are really simple little behaviours that are associated with psychological safety.
Follow through on small commitments. If you say you’re going to do something, then you’ll do it or get back to them. Having control over what we call your nonverbal cues. They’re things like… It’s really interesting listening on Zoom when I’ve been talking to teams and groups that, oh wow, someone rolls their eyes, or folds their arms, or gives a big sigh. Our nonverbal cues, we might not even be aware of them, but actually are they creating safety, or are they setting off the stress response, a bit like the three people was talking about, that they get verbal cues from the person that they were working with as well.
Asking for feedback and help. Saying thank you. Creating opportunities to socialise outside of work. I know it’s been really difficult over the last few years to do this, but we absolutely know that when people socialise in groups – I don’t mean absolutely going out and having lots of alcohol but just actually sharing a meal together or a coffee – is when we create opportunities to socialise outside of work, it builds connection. Again, it all helps with our well-being and feeling valued and connected.
When we share our mistakes and explore our learning, and also when we shift from telling to asking. Again, we’re going to go into that in a little bit more detail. Some of the stuff we’re talking about today, which I’m really excited about, is about how do we humanise where we work? it’s not rocket science stuff, but it’s just stuff that we don’t really talk about.
I was reading the chat before while you were in the breakout rooms, and there’s a feeling of overwhelm. There’s too much stuff to do. I do a lot of work with doctors, medical doctors, and we have this conversation. They’re in this place of overwhelm and feeling, well, I should be able to do all this work, and I said, ‘Should you? Is that possible? If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
You’ve got exactly the same amount of time as everyone else.’ One of the doctors that springs to mind said, ‘I think I’ll have failed at my job because that’s how it makes me feel,’ and I said, ‘Is that true though? It’s just that you’re human. It’s not anything to do with your capacity to do your job. It’s just there’s too much of it.’ He’d not taken any holidays. We were talking about the impact of putting your own oxygen… I have this little analogy that you have to put your own oxygen mask on first because if you don’t, then you’re not going to be any good for anybody else. It might be really uncomfortable to say no, or I can’t do that just yet, or whatever that is, or while I’m doing this, what would you like me to do?
One of the other sessions I do is about how do you say yes more slowly, and you do that by asking a question. Okay, so who else have you asked? Which part of this is only I can do this? Which bit would you like me to do, this first or this, but I can’t do both?
I work a lot with senior leadership teams and I would say psychological safety is in any team. What happens is, we get a fear culture. actually it’s not okay to say, ‘I’ve got something wrong here,’ because we’ll look for who to blame. ‘who can we blame here? Who’s done this wrong? Who can we call out on this?’ Actually, that’s not the place for innovation and creativity. What happens is you have a fear culture, and that fear culture comes down.
Why I love this kind of concept of psychological safety and hopefully talking more about it… For me, it’s given me a structure to hang… I’ve been doing this stuff for a long time around helping teams to be psychologically safe, but didn’t have a word or vocabulary for it. I knew what was happening, I could see it, but actually now we’ve got something to work on and, as I say, I think you’ll probably be seeing it over the coming years.
There’s a lot more research coming out about this. I’m just working a lot, doing work on what I call emotional culture. in an organisation, academia you have a cognitive culture. This is what we do. actually how do we want people to feel here? I think it’ll be quite interesting to see how that goes.
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