Psychological safety : the individual’s perspective

Last week I wrote about Psychological Safety from the perspective of a leader trying to create that environment for their team or business. But what about the individual? Do they have to just wait for someone else to come and create that for them? You can probably guess that’s a no — but read on to explore more…


Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

I can’t work with that person they’re so intimidating.

This team just seems incapable of a decision and drive me crazy going round in circles.

I’m too introverted to get my point across, the extroverts just take over.

Nobody ever listens to each other. It’s pointless.

All possible scenarios where we can drop into the role of victim, believing that we need a rescuer to come and change things for us. The leader in his coat of shining armour who will take responsibility for the dynamic and make it all better. read more

Humans vs Bots – how a human team can gain competitive edge over the bots

We’ve all seen the headlines.  The bots are coming for our jobs.

In recent research*, the skills managers reported they need in the next 5 years significantly underestimate the importance of people.  But people skills are exactly what we need to differentiate ourselves from AI.  The top 3 skills the managers reported needing were:

1.       Digital and technological expertise (42%)

2.       Creative thinking and experimentation (33%)

3.       Data analysis and interpretation (31%)

…..

And the people skills came in at 6th place.

The thing that sets us apart as humans is that we have vast capacities to be creative and experiment – but this stops when we’re in an environment where we don’t feel safe or valued.

It’s easier to feel safe when we’re surrounded by people like us but this isn’t where the strongest teams operate and it isn’t where the best ideas come from.

So flip that, surround yourself with a diverse team – some reflective people, some who drive the agenda, some who have creative flair, some who pay attention to the practical details.  This is when interpersonal problems arise because opposing styles trigger fear in us.  We don’t understand them.

The paradox is that these differences are exactly what you need for creativity, agility and innovation.

So as a leader, how do you maximise the full potential of your team?  How can you be stronger as a team than you are apart?

Leaders we talk to know that this is what they want to achieve but don’t know how to go about it.  They want the business to grow and evolve but fear losing their original vision and entrepreneurial edge.

A critical way to embrace this paradox and benefit from it is to fully understand each member of your team – what their strengths are, what energises them, what frustrates them – developing their ability to talk about this in an open and conscious way, growing mutual appreciation for what each person brings.

This process enables the team to establish conscious team “norms” – norms are habits or codes of behaviour that become the accepted way to do things.  All teams have norms but they’re usually unconscious and aren’t always helpful for creating the safety for brilliance.

Sometimes an agreed norm can be as simple as allowing everybody the chance at the start of a meeting to say how they’re feeling and what’s going on, or it might be agreeing to co-create agendas in advance.  Whatever your agreed norms, the part which often gets lost is the continued practice of them.  The norms slip from the helpful and conscious back to the unhelpful and nonconscious, especially when the pressure’s on, and the team’s success slips with it.  Regular team reviews are essential.

Our top tips for establishing helpful and conscious team norms:

1.       Everybody inputs into what’s working and what’s not

2.       Agree norms that address what’s not working

3.       Each member takes responsibility for maintaining them

4.       Regularly check how they’re working

5.       Celebrate the successes that come from them

6.       Adjust them if you’ve experimented and they’re not working

Do this in your team and you’ll maintain your competitive edge over the best bots in town!

 

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Zoe and Helen work with top teams enabling them to harness their collective power. Get in touch to find out how we can help you maximise the differences in your team.

@aligningteams

helen@aligningteams.co.uk

Read more about what we do here.

 

*(Accenture Survey reported in HBR Mar/Apr 17)

Is Your Team a Team? : The key to keeping your team on the same track

Jon was a confident leader. Passionate about his business and his products and had a clear vision of the kind of culture he wanted to create: famous in the market for creating a workplace that people look forward to getting to every day and which got talked about as the place to be, all of which meant his teams consistently exceeded what customers expected.

As the business grew, so did his leadership team, including investors with different priorities to Jon. Tensions started to appear and he could feel divisions where there used to be none, which also began filtering into the wider business. The vision was fading and he needed to bring it back on track.

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Jon’s experience is not unique. Especially in fast-growth businesses where investment is needed to scale up. Investors bring a whole new dynamic as team members, with apparently competing interests, need to find a way through together.

Research* shows this reality for top UK teams:

47% believe there are important issues to discuss which are hidden due to high inhibition and lack of trust.

30% recognise fundamental divisions exist in the team over their view of the future.

By not discussing the important issues, divisions will occur because the ability to understand each others’ perspectives widens until there can come a point where the relationships are irretrievable.

The issues might be about expectations of the role each person should play, expectations about the skills or attributes each person should bring which don’t match the reality, different views about the direction they think business should be going, breakdowns in communication, frustrations about the way the work is being done, and meetings which sap time and life out of the day….

Fear of some kind or other is usually at the root of not speaking up about the issues. Even for the MD or CEO who might be worried what will happen if they open the can of worms, concerned about whether they’ll be able to handle what comes out, and what impact it will have on their reputation if they’re not able to handle it. This stuff takes skill and courage.

There is another way.

When a team becomes courageous and have these hidden conversations they grow and develop in transformative ways. When we feel safe to take risks we can share our perspective and feel valued for what we bring. This then enables the team to generate ideas, learn, helpfully disagree, create possibilities, which then sets the team up to be innovative and meet challenges head on – aligned in what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

Using the Aligning Teams Approach with Jon and his team enabled them to have these courageous conversations and appreciate each other’s perspectives and strengths. They aligned behind a common vision and set off as a powerful collective to make it a reality.

A key part of Jon’s team’s success now is credited to him having the courage to stand up and say they needed help from outside the team.

Zoe and Helen work with top teams enabling them to harness their collective power. Get in touch to find out how we can help your team stay on the same track.

 

@aligningteams

helen@aligningteams.co.uk

Read more about what we do here.

*Source – Andrew Kakabadse, Henley Business School, January 2016

Client’s name changed at their request.