I've recently been asked by a few of our clients on how to improve psychological safety. One of the most insightful things on this topic is to realise that psychological safety is often not a binary question. There are many factors influencing psychological safety, however the first step is to understand the different levels of psychological safety, so that as leaders we can create experiments to provide intervention to foster more safety for our people and teams.

Understanding the Levels of Psychological Safety

Psychological safety isn't a one-size-fits-all concept. It actually comes in different levels, and understanding them is key to creating a truly supportive workplace. Let's explore these levels:


Level 1: Basic Safety

This is the starting point. At this level, team members feel safe enough to do their job without fearing punishment or humiliation. They know they won't be reprimanded for making honest mistakes. It's like a safety net that catches you when you slip.

Practical Tip: Encourage open dialogue about challenges and share your own mistakes to set the tone.


Level 2: Sharing Ideas

Moving up the ladder, this level is about people feeling comfortable sharing their ideas without feeling judged or dismissed. They're willing to put their thoughts out there, even if they're unconventional or untested. It's like opening the door to innovation.

Practical Tip: Praise and acknowledge creative thinking, even if an idea doesn't pan out.


Level 3: Taking Risks

At this level, your team members feel confident enough to take calculated risks without worrying about blame. They're not afraid to venture into uncharted territory, knowing they have your support. It's like the fuel for growth.

Practical Tip: Encourage calculated risk-taking and celebrate lessons learned, not just successes.


Level 4: Honest Feedback

At the highest level, your team feels free to give and receive honest feedback. They trust that their input will be used constructively, not as a weapon. This is where you see constant improvement and genuine collaboration.

Practical Tip: Foster a culture of feedback, and lead by example by actively seeking and welcoming input.


The Big Takeaway

In a nutshell, psychological safety isn't just a yes-or-no thing; it's a spectrum. The higher you can climb on this ladder, the more your workplace will thrive. So, take these simple steps, start adding more psychological safety in your workplace. Want to improve psychological safety for your workplace? Join us on our 1 day workshop on Psychological safety here.