Can you believe we’re up to Strategy #14 in our ongoing series on helping your people build their physical and mental resilience? In previous tips in this series, I’ve talked about different aspects of resilience, and today I want to focus in specifically on mental resilience, even more explicitly, on psychological safety.
Create a psychologically safe environment
In some ways, this is an extension of Strategy #12 which was to deliberately create a culture of openness. Essentially, psychological safety is that your team members believe, truly believe, that any of them can speak out without consequences. And it is crucial to creating mental resilience in your people.
Similar to creating a culture of openness, the climate for establishing a psychologically safe environment is set at the top. As in you, the leader. It’s critical that you encourage your employees to express their worries and anxieties, and to face their emotions. And when they do, it is essential that you actively listen to what your people are thinking and feeling. Remember Strategy #5 – cultivate empathy? It’s also vital that you be empathetic, and acknowledge their commitment and effort in the face of unpredictability or difficulty. And of course, you need to ensure that there are no negative repercussions for speaking up. If what they say comes back to bite them later, you will have destroyed any chance to create psychological safety, and mental resilience, in your team.
Take “honesty breaks”
If you, as a leader, get a sense that there is something unspoken or there is a negative undercurrent underfoot, perhaps even an “elephant in the room”, then get into the habit of pausing, and taking an “honesty break”. An honesty break is designed to encourage team members to share their thoughts and feelings, and your commitment is that you will guarantee psychological safety for anything said during this time. If you’ve never done this before, it might take a while for your people to take you up on your offer, but be patient and persistent, it will eventually be worth the effort.
Psychological safety is key to mental resilience. And I’d like to know what you’ve seen and experienced. As leaders, are we good at creating psychologically safe environments for our people? What gets in the way? Please share by commenting below.