In this episode of The Business of Learning podcast, hosted by Training Industry’s managing editor Taryn Oesch DeLong and senior editor Sarah Gallo, Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson describes psychologically safe work and learning environments, and how to foster them. She outlines the skills leaders and teachers must cultivate to empower people to be creative, learn from mistakes and collaborate with one another. Businesses that offer psychological safety innovate more effectively and avoid costly, preventable failures.
Psychological safety empowers people to learn and develop.
Psychological safety creates a supportive environment for learning, creativity and innovation. Learners and employees feel safe to take risks in service of teamwork and excellence – especially when the broader climate is uncertain or challenging. They dare to ask questions, raise concerns, make mistakes and be candid without worrying about negatively affecting their work relationships.
Psychological safety is not about creating an environment where everyone acts “nice,” but rather about motivating participants to show kindness and respect toward one another. It encourages people to express their opinions candidly, because the underlying ethos is that everyone’s voice is worth hearing and everyone’s perspective has value.
In a psychologically unsafe environment, you notice hesitancy, reticence or nothing but happy talk. People seem afraid to speak up. They may relentlessly accentuate the positive and never share anything negative or critical. Even their body language can show that they’re uncomfortable with being forthcoming.
To thwart reticence, ...
Amy Edmonson is Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School. She is the author of The Fearless Organization and six other books, as well as numerous articles and case studies. Podcast host Taryn Oesch DeLong is managing editor of digital content at Training Industry, where Sarah Gallo is a senior editor.