Emotional safety is a prerequisite for unlocking and optimizing human contribution, connection, and collaboration in the workplace. Without it you get individual compliance, nothing more, and it comes at a high price. People will give as much as they need to, to survive, while looking for other opportunities, you guessed it, to survive.
Emotional safety, also known as psychological safety, is a precondition for highly productive relationships. In fact, it is the initial building block. It is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.
A lack of it silences People’s voice, robbing an organization of its collective benefit as a consequence. Mistakes are hidden, opportunities to improve are withheld. A sense of fear permeates the environment.
Have you experienced this? How did it make you feel? Perhaps you are in such an environment now.
Being bullied, ostracized, marginalized, excluded, maligned, and so on (feel free to add to the list!). These are toxic, corrosive behaviors, yet all too often they are allowed in the workplace.
A lack of emotional safety creates an environment of fear which severely constrains, or even shuts down, cognitive systems as humans go into survival mode. Perhaps we have just resigned ourselves to its presence and have grown to accept it as a condition in the workplace. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be so. We can ban and route out these corrosive behaviors.
Who allows fear to permeate the workplace? Leadership does, whether knowingly or not. Leadership has to ban these corrosive behaviors and hold all accountable, including themselves that these behaviors are outlawed. Period. End of story.
You want Trust based collaboration and innovation? Create an emotionally safe work environment that taps into the best that People have to offer, individually and collectively. It is the first step in the journey to high levels of human engagement and collaboration.
Do yourself a favor and spend some time really understanding and contemplating the merits of emotional safety in the workplace.
You’ll be glad you did!
Steve Plante is Chief Strategist and Education Officer of PeopleProductive, LLC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.