How to increase psychological safety in your organization!



You have probably heard the term 'psychological safety'. It's very much in vogue right now and has been for some time. Researchers, organizational psychologists and management consultants are all talking about psychological safety as a necessity for creating successful teams. Do you dare to wait to find out more and take action? Read about what it means and what you can do to increase the psychological safety of your team.

So what is psychological safety?

Psychological safety is about building an atmosphere of openness and trust where employees feel they can express their opinions without fear of negative consequences. It creates a culture where it is acceptable to make mistakes and where constructive feedback is encouraged. The purpose of psychological safety is to expose ourselves to things that make us feel unsafe. Teams with high psychological safety are much more effective and have a greater capacity to solve problems. They are also more creative, innovative and experience greater satisfaction and commitment.

The acceptance of the interpersonal risks we take by those around us is crucial to increasing our level of psychological safety. As an individual, I can choose how open I am with what I think, think and feel. If I, as an individual, am more open than the group climate previously allowed and it is accepted by the group, the threshold for the next person to be even more open is lowered. A good communicative spiral has been created. In a psychologically safe group, there is an expectation that members will make their voices heard when they disagree and that they will challenge the prevailing way of thinking. This is fundamental to creating a culture conducive to learning and development.

What can you do as a leader to create psychological safety?

Clarify and create a common understanding of why the team exists and what goal(s) it will achieve and what it will accomplish. Create goals for how you will work together and what communicative norms will apply in the group. Clarify the different roles in the group and link the objectives of each role to the common group objectives.

Encourage everyone to participate in discussions regardless of role, power and status. Listen and ask questions rather than speaking up. Spend time on the well-being of staff and their concerns. Be a role model for others by having a clear moral compass, being open, authentic, showing trust and welcoming feedback on your leadership. Share your own mistakes and misjudgments and encourage the team to learn from the mistakes and failures you make.

Evaluate the cooperation regularly. A good model to use for this is the After Action Review (ARR), read more about the model here. It contains the following points:

  1. What did we expect to happen?
  2. What actually happened?
  3. Why did it turn out the way it did?
  4. What can be improved and how?
  5. What can we spread further?


In this way, the team becomes self-reflective. The group receives continuous feedback on its own functioning and can thus create a climate characterized by both learning and development. The security of the individual also seems to mean that they are more likely to ask for feedback from people outside the team, such as other colleagues in the organization, customers and other stakeholders. One can also see an increased frequency of reporting errors. Finally, there are studies that show that what characterizes successful high-performing teams the most is psychological safety.

Get in touch with us at Rolf so we can help you increase the psychological safety of your team. With the support of our team and digital platform, change will happen faster than you think. You'll also be able to measure progress at the individual, team, and organizational level.