SELF HELP RESOURCE - Work / Workplace Relationships

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Nisha had recently gone through a divorce before joining her current role. She had begun settling in the new workspace and worked hard to form good working relationships. One day, she had overheard her manager saying, “Divorcees are quite promiscuous in nature. That is why they struggle to commit to a relationship.” Nisha’s manager would often dismiss her in the meetings. Nisha was feeling frustrated at their workplace.


Rahul was harassed at his workplace. Some of his colleagues were making fun of the way he dressed. He brought up this concern to his manager. But Rahul was surprised when he learned that his manager wanted him to stop complaining for such trivial issues. His manager also dissuaded people from conversations about workplace harassment. He never encouraged an open dialogue or communication in his team. Rahul felt unsafe working in the office.


Studies highlight some of the reasons behind increasing employee attrition rates. Like Rahul and Nisha, many employees at workplace feel unsafe in their work environment. One of the topmost stressor at workplace is lack of psychological safety. This begs the question: What is psychological safety?


Psychological safety is the shared belief that an employee or team would not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes. In a psychologically safe environment, discrimination would not interfere with allocation of opportunities to employees. Research indicates we become more open-minded, resilient, motivated, creative and persistent when we feel safe. As a result, team productivity increases contributing towards the growth of the organization. In other words, psychologically safe environment leads to a happier and productive workforce.


Leaders can influence the climate of the workgroup or organization by supporting a positive, open, and trusting environment. Let us look at some of the ways in which managers could create and facilitate psychological safety at workplace:
 

  1. Empathy: Putting yourself in the shoes of the employees would convey concern and compassion. It makes the individual feel safe and cared for, which leads to a positive environment at workplace.
     
  2. Constructive feedback: Getting and giving good quality feedback means that we have an accurate idea of how we are going at work. Constructive feedback provides the employee with both strengths and areas of development. A holistic picture helps the individual feel motivated and persistent.
     
  3. Avoiding judgmental tone Employees look up to their managers and consider them as role models. In a leadership position, managers tone and words could influence the perception of other employees as well. So, choose words carefully and check your own biases.
     
  4. Model curiosity: If we are assuming instead of asking, then we are not actively listening. Adopting a learning mindset would create an open environment, where employees would feel safe to take calculated risks and engage in creative process.
     
  5. Measure psychological safety: As a manager, you could take the initiative to engage in regular conversations and follow ups with your team to assess the level of psychological safety. Use the opportunity to understand what is hindering and enhancing psychological safety for employees. The team would feel connected to each other; hence creating an open and nurturing environment.


With an increase in psychological safety at workplace, you can expect to see higher levels of engagement, increased motivation, more learning and development opportunities, and better performance. To learn more about creating psychological safety at workplace, consult with our professional, qualified counselors by calling in at 1800-270-1790.

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