Why do people hold back from sharing their thoughts and ideas in a team meeting?
Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson would say the team lacks psychological safety. Psychological safety is a belief that you will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.
Do you have psychological safety on your team? Here are a few symptoms that indicate that you may NOT:
- People don’t speak up in meetings
- People don’t admit their mistakes
- People don’t challenge each other’s ideas
- People don’t ask for help
- People DO go along with whatever the leader says
Psychological safety is essential because a lack of it can lead to mediocrity, anxiety, stress, and boredom. The team consequence is a lack of risk-taking and refinement of ideas. Recently, our TH!NK Team led a department through a SWOT analysis. The manager was confident that no one would speak up; we assured her that the right environment allows an abundance of ideas to flow.
These are a few of the heavy-hitting ideas the team generated:
- Rebranding the team internally
- Need for revamped processes and procedures
- Unique IT solutions for customers
We used these four tips to create psychological safety in this meeting:
Tip #1: Help your team get to know each other with a quick icebreaker before each meeting. It can be as simple as, “What are you grateful for today?”
Tip #2: Ask more questions. Create an agreed upon list of questions to process decisions. “How could this go wrong?” or “How does this align with our values?”
Tip #3: When teaming virtually, don’t assume that everyone is tech savvy. Provide tutorial sessions for your meeting platforms before your session.
Tip #4: Time. Give participants ample time to prepare. Provide an agenda or pre-work as an onramp to the meeting.