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Level 5 of Engagement: The importance of care for team members

Fostering authenticity, psychological safety and fairness in the workplace

In the journey towards creating a truly engaging work environment, there is a crucial level that lies at the heart of it all—Care. Care is about creating an environment where every individual feels appreciated, valued, respected, and free to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas.

One of the cornerstones of care is psychological safety. It is the vital foundation that allows individuals to speak up, share their thoughts, and take risks without fear of embarrassment, humiliation, or penalization. When people feel secure in voicing their opinions, ideas flourish, collaboration thrives, and innovation becomes unstoppable.

However, sometimes, even with the best intentions, people inadvertently hinder authenticity in the workplace. Let’s shine a light on some common examples that may unintentionally hinder psychological safety.

Public Criticism: Picture a meeting room filled with colleagues and a manager openly criticizing a team member’s performance. In this moment, it’s not just the individual being criticized who feels the sting; it sends a powerful message to everyone else – “Be careful, your mistakes could be laid bare for all to see.”

Disregarding Ideas and Opinions: Imagine a team member consistently dismissing the ideas and opinions of their colleagues. This subtle yet significant behavior not only undermines the contributions of others, but it also conveys a message that their voices don’t matter, inhibiting true collaboration and stifling the potential for creativity.

Overloading and Imbalance of Work: Fairness is an essential aspect of care. However, fairness can be compromised when a partner consistently assigns their favorite associate an more manageable or exciting workload, while overloading or giving mundane assignments to others. This creates an environment where some feel burdened while others are favored, eroding trust and hindering collaboration.

Frequent Interruptions: Imagine a scenario where one colleague persistently interrupts another during meetings, disregarding their thoughts and opinions. This behavior not only disrupts the flow of conversation but also diminishes the value of the individual being interrupted, leading to self-censorship and a reluctance to contribute.

Blame Shifting: Instead of taking responsibility for errors, some individuals resort to blame shifting. When someone deflects blame onto another person, it creates an environment of fear and mistrust. Team members become cautious about taking risks or admitting mistakes, hindering growth and innovation.

Overlooking Introverted Team Members: Fairness also means giving equal opportunities to everyone to contribute. Imagine a partner who consistently calls on outspoken team members for their input but rarely gives introverted colleagues a chance to have their voices heard. This not only silences valuable perspectives but also perpetuates the feeling that certain individuals are not valued or appreciated.

So, how can you foster psychological safety and care in your workplace? Here are a few practical tips:

1. Cultivate an environment of respect and open-mindedness, where everyone’s thoughts and ideas are genuinely considered.

2. Encourage active listening and ensure that all voices are given equal opportunity to contribute during meetings and discussions.

3. Provide constructive feedback privately, focusing on growth and improvement rather than public criticism.

4. Foster a culture of accountability and shared responsibility, where blame is not thrown around, but mistakes are seen as opportunities for learning and growth.

5. Celebrate diversity and introverted team members by creating inclusive spaces and finding alternative avenues for them to contribute, such as through written discussions or smaller group settings.

By prioritizing care, nurturing psychological safety, and promoting fairness within your workplaces, you create an environment where authenticity can flourish, collaboration can thrive, and all team members can unleash their full potential.

Click the image to the right to download an infographic of 9 Examples of Psychological Unsafety. Feel free to share it with your teams.

See you next week when we discuss level five: Care.

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