The biggest hurdle to a well-functioning team is psychological safety.
Friday, December 8, 2023

Eean Crawford, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship in the TCOB, said employees who don’t feel psychologically safe in a work environment won’t do their best work.  

That means if they’re embarrassed or criticized by supervisors or coworkers in a way they think is unfair, the brain perceives danger. And the priority of a brain in danger is to make the danger go away. In an unsafe workplace, that means taking no risks, doing only what you’re told, and keeping your ideas to yourself.  

But Crawford said a brain in safe mode is relaxed, confident, and has greater flexibility so it’s creative and inventive. It wants to contribute and be part of the team. The best workplaces, he said, are psychologically safe work environments.  

How can managers create such a workplace? 

  • Build a team of supportive and understanding peers 

  • Have clear and well-designed work goals 

  • Encourage participation from every member of a team and don’t let just a few people dominate conversations 

  • Learn to read emotions in people’s faces and respond accordingly 

  • Be willing to let down your guard and be vulnerable yourself