Psychological Safety - Creating the Best Learning Environment

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Leaders are becoming more aware of how creating psychologically safe spaces for their teams has the potential to increase contribution and performance.

Based on extensive experience of working with teams and groups of leaders, I offer you some insights into how to create the right kind of environment to generate engagement and optimise participation.

1. Understand why you’re doing this

We want the people on our programmes to bring their whole self, to engage fully in dialogue, to feel like they’re being listened to, to hold an open mindset and to enter a learning zone where they’re prepared to be vulnerable and take risks. This is where learning, growth and sometimes magic happens!

2. Hold some fundamental mindsets

We believe that there are no awkward or difficult participants just people who might be a tad nervous, may not have had great pervious experiences and could quite possibly be sceptical. All of this is normal and absolutely OK for us and we always treat participants with care and respect, however they show up.

3. Engage early and get ALL voices in the room

Too many programmes start with long preambles, introductions and slide decks; ours don’t. We encourage movement and participation very early and make it clear its the group who are the 'stars of the show', not us.

4. Build trust - quickly

The old part of our brain still works on a primal threat or reward basis. When people come into workshops, development programmes or even team meetings they are quickly weighing each other up; are they friend or foe, will they support or ‘attack’ me? We always invest time helping groups establish themselves, to generate confidence and belief in each other.

5. Modelling the right behaviours

As facilitators and coaches if we want people to truly open up and participate we need to model effective listening, to encourage challenging & diverse perspectives and to visibly include ALL participants.

6. Quality of attention

We know that the quality of attention that people give each other affects their ability to think, process and participate. We encourage people to treat each other as thinking peers and to listen with respect, interest and even fascination.

7. Encouragement, appreciation & recognition

Our programmes aim to help improve individual and organisational performance. We start by appreciating contributions, focusing on strengths and recognising the whole person in front of us.

8. Asking great questions

We ask incisive questions that arrive from a curious mindset, are not opinions in disguise and gently reveal to our participants some of the assumptions that may limit their performance.

9. Be prepared to head into challenging territory

Our participants want to learn and grow, to be different and better versions of themselves. Having created the right learning environment where trust is established, we can then hold those challenging conversations where real change happens.

Book a conversation with Mike to find out more about psychological safety.

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