1. Get a better understanding of the current state of psychological safety at your company
Before you begin implementing today’s playbook, you need to know where your employees are when it comes to psychological safety. An anonymous 5–10 question survey can give you valuable insights.
Learnerbly’s Head of People Experience shared:
“Show your people that you’re ready to hear them and that you value complete freedom of opinion by setting up anonymous surveys. Keep in mind that the work has to be done within each team to create psychological safety at a company level.”
As psychological safety is still a new concept for some people, start the conversation by giving a quick explanation of psychological safety and what it looks like at work.
Here are some potential survey questions you can use to see where your employees are. Ask your people to rate the following statements on a scale of 0 to 10:
- I feel safe sharing my personal beliefs.
- My co-workers are open to opinions different from their own.
- Members of my team can bring up problems and tough issues.
- My manager promotes an open and constructive way to deal with problems and challenging issues.
- It is easy to ask other team members for help.
- No one on my team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts.
- It is safe to take a risk in my team.
- Employees at [company] can voice their opinions without fear of retribution or rejection.
Additionally, you can ask an open-ended question for deeper insight, like “What would make you feel safer at work?”
If you send out your survey with Leapsome, you can use our survey comments feature to engage in valuable conversations with your people — all while protecting their anonymity!
2. Analyze the psychological safety data you received
After you have closed the survey, it’s time to examine the information you received.
If you’ve used a platform like Leapsome to run your survey, you can make the most of the data by analyzing results by job level, department, and other filters (again, everything remains anonymous). You’ll also gain access to action plan recommendations. By looking deeper, you might uncover critical insights to improve your company — and boost psychological safety.
As you analyze the results, ensure that you let your team know what you plan to do with the information they’ve shared. Keep employees in the loop as you bring in key stakeholders to redefine what psychological safety looks like at your company.
Lauren Mason shared another tip: “Don’t just gather survey answers — do something with what you hear. This will reinforce the positive repercussions of speaking up.”
P.S.: Check out our playbook on how to dig into the data and put survey results into action!
3. Define what a psychologically safe environment should look like at your company and brainstorm ways to make it happen
Once you understand the current state of psychological safety, it’s time to think about what things should ideally look like.
How does your team interact with each other? What have they expressed in the survey that you can support them with right away? What issues will take more time and structural changes to address? And where do you want the state of psychological safety to be a few months and a few years from now?
At this point, you should bring in managers and, possibly, more employees to define what psychological safety will look like at your company. Based on your results, you and your team can work like a task force to help you define the dream and make it real.
4. Create an action plan to make those ideas a reality
Keep your “task force” involved in this process. Together, brainstorm ideas to help you improve psychological safety at work. For example, you might:
- Organize a workshop on topics like DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), active listening, and unconscious bias (to name but a few key topics) for all employees at work.
- Consider a process for employees to anonymously report situations in which they felt psychologically unsafe. Also, implement ongoing employee engagement surveys if you haven’t yet — this is another space for them to anonymously share their thoughts on the company as a whole.
- Encourage managers to build meaningful mentoring relationships with employees in weekly 1:1 meetings.
- A culture of psychological safety is a culture in which mistakes aren’t punished: they’re learning opportunities. Leadership should set an example.
Sharing mistakes and lessons learned during all-hands and team meetings is a good starting point, and will encourage your employees to do the same without fearing retaliation.
- Add a talking point to meeting templates for leaders to encourage their reports to raise concerns — and talk to leadership to ensure that they actually listen to their reports.
After you’ve brainstormed, create an action plan that ties back to the survey results you received. This action plan should also mention who owns the implementation of each idea and timelines.
As you create your plan of action, consider how to allocate the resources you’ll need (time, budget, personnel) to make these plans a reality.
5. Bring your ideas to company stakeholders for approval
After you’ve solidified your plan, take this to your company stakeholders for final approval. Getting approval should be easy if you have involved leadership along the way. Use this time as a final check to make sure that you and your leadership team are on the same page. Answer questions, make sure your leaders know the big picture, and get everything squared away.
6. Share your approved changes to the entire company
After you receive final approval for your plans, it’s time to take them to the whole organization. Bringing all of the changes you plan to make closes the loop from the survey where your team shared their thoughts and opinions with you.
Put together a quick video or address the changes at your organization’s next all-hands meeting. There are many formats you can take to address your employees, but we suggest the following:
- Final survey results: Take a few moments to give an overview of the results you got from the survey. What did those results tell you about the state of psychological safety at your organization?
- Vision: After looking at the results, what did you want to accomplish? What does a psychologically safe environment look like to you and the leadership team?
- Action plan: Based on the results and your vision, what are you implementing to improve your organization? How can employees get involved in these steps?
- Next steps: What should employees expect from you as a follow-up to ensure that this is a top priority for the organization?
Follow-up best practices for creating psychological safety at work
Check in with employees and run recurring surveys
Psychological safety should be a priority for your company. Once you implement the changes from your action plan, you need to check in with employees to ensure that everything is in place.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by running follow-up surveys — but don’t do it too often to avoid survey fatigue. Once per quarter would be a good recurrence.
Also, continuously remind company managers to communicate the value of psychological safety during 1:1s and build a relationship of trust and activate listening with their reports.
Update your psychological safety action plan as needed
After you’ve received updates from your entire organization, you can begin to make changes to your psychological safety action plan as needed. There is a chance that you missed the mark on some of the ideas you implemented — and that’s OK! People ops topics often require an iterative process to understand and address issues.
With the information gained by checking in on your team and running follow-up surveys, take your time to understand:
- How does the team currently handle psychological safety? Did you take steps forward or backward?
- What seems to be working when it comes to building safety at work? What’s not working?
- How can your organization support your employees better?
Once you figure out the updates or changes you need to make, update your action plan. Let your team members know what you’ll be doing differently to get closer to a safe workspace.
— Your managers must stay committed to nurturing a psychologically safe environment, and you can support them with our many playbooks, including our guides on giving constructive feedback to employees and writing performance reviews for their reports. 😉