Psychological safety is the most important component of a successful team.

Psychological safety is the most important component of a successful team.

〜What is psychological safety?

Does your team feel safe to say what they want to say to each other? What will they think? Will I be punished? Do you find that you are too afraid to speak up because you are afraid of others?

The state in which team members can say what they want to say is called “psychological safety,” and Google says, “Psychological safety is paramount to building a successful team.” Google has stated that “psychological safety is the most important factor in building a successful team.

So, what does “psychological safety” mean?

A state of psychological safety is where there is a confidence that one will not be embarrassed to speak up, frightened by the reactions of others, or rejected or penalized by others in a team.

According to a survey by CARCELIA Corporation, 83.2% of company employees who have changed jobs within a year said that psychological safety was important to them in choosing a workplace.

This “psychological safety” is also important in choosing a workplace.

In an agile team, the state of being able to communicate one’s thoughts and state of mind to team members without anxiety is essential for building a high-performing team.

Harvard Business Review has an interesting article on this topic.

Agile Can’t Work Without Psychological Safety.

February 21, 2022

Source: Agile Doesn’t Work Without Psychological Safety by Timothy R. Clark

Harvard Business Review
Agile Doesn’t Work Without Psychological Safety During the last 20 years, the agile movement has gained astonishing momentum, even outside of software development. There’s agile HR, agile project management, ...

High psychological safety elicits a performance response that targets innovation, while low psychological safety elicits a fear response that targets survival. When team members stop asking questions, admitting mistakes, exploring ideas, and challenging the status quo, they cease to be agile.

Can your team members give and take, push and pull, talk and listen, question and answer, act and react, analyze and solve? Or will they censor each other and go into self-preservation mode?

In essence, the core technology of Agile is neither technical nor mechanical. It is cultural. Agile teams ultimately rely on psychological safety – an open, bare-bones environment that rewards – having a collaborative interactive process.

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Agile’s core technology is cultural and ultimately depends on psychological safety – very interesting.

If the core is not in place, it will not help the team perform better, improve quality and speed, or promote innovative ideas.

It is not enough to just introduce new technologies such as automation. It is people who support agility. Teams also need to increase “psychological safety”.

There are activities that ensure psychological safety within agile teams. It is called “check-in.”  The check-in is led by the Scrum Master, who checks the status of the members. The frequency is at least once a day (morning, after lunch, etc.).

◎Check-in:.

SM: “What did you have for lunch? How are you feeling? Are you tired?”

Let’s encourage each other to be honest!

It may be useful to use icons and tools to indicate the current status.

Example.

Some members may be tired or have had a sad day in their personal life and are feeling down. In such cases, a team member with other energy should follow up with them. By knowing the members’ situation, the Scrum Master can provide appropriate follow-up and support. By doing so, they can maintain high quality output without slowing down.

When Joe, the instructor, was actually a Scrum Master, one of the members’ child was sick. The member was out of work, so Joe picked him up from school and supported him by cooking and doing laundry at the member’s home!

Maintaining psychological safety means being honest about one’s condition and thoughts, which creates trust and allows the team to work at its best. This allows them to perform better and achieve high quality at high speed. This is still possible because the team is flat (no hierarchy, no power bias) and self-organizing.

If your team has just started implementing Agile, please try to implement it little by little, starting from where you can. As you continue to do so, you will find that you have built the best team that is easy to work with and can create all kinds of value.

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