Gratitude increases psychological safety and makes our whole world a happier, more productive place. Remember psychological safety is the belief that you will never be punished or humiliated for speaking up.
It has a definite effect on the level of productivity, Research has repeatedly shown that psychologically safe teams are more effective. Google, for example, conducted a two-year study into what drives high-performing teams --- and they found psychological safety to be the most important factor.
The effect the individuals working in those 'psychologically safe' teams is that they are happier and are less likely to leave. Who wants to leave a winning team? Psychological safety creates stronger, happier and more productive teams.
There are 5 clear steps that can be taken to increase psychological safety and gratitude plays a big part in enabling these steps to take place!
The five steps are:
- Create an open communication culture
- Build trust through transparency
- Set clear and achievable targets
- Reframe failure as opportunities
- Supportive and encouraging culture.
When we make gratitude a personality trait and our default setting, we fire up the prosocial curiosity which creates a positive platform for communication, and this in turn inhibits our more negative 'fight or flight' neural circuits.
These positive channels of communication are at the heart of psychological safety. It's essential to create a climate of honesty and openness. There are several ways you can foster a psychologically safe communication culture. It is important to provide a number of different channels for people to share their thoughts and feedback because people feel comfortable with different channels. These channels include open discussions, email, surveys and anonymous suggestion boxes. The TAP App is another great way of expressing positive communication in the form of gratitude.
We can reinforce these positive communication pathways through actively listening, taking a genuine interest in what people are saying and offering empathetic encouragement. All these are a great way to encourage people to share their ideas and use the power of gratitude to validate their ideas and progress to this point.
Once we have established these very open channels of communication it is important to be transparent as speaking freely means having no hidden agendas. Inform other team members or employees about any changes or developments and the reasons behind the changes. In a transparent environment it makes it easier and important to share good and bad news.
We can also foster psychological safety by setting achievable targets. If we put gratitude at the forefront of our minds and try to be kinder ourselves, we will be checking in on others and urging our colleagues on to achieve those goals and rewarding them with truly deserved appreciation.
We can reframe the narrative surrounding failure and change it into a narrative of opportunity. Talking about our own mistakes takes courage, but when we feel psychologically safe we are able to do this and this is enabled and strengthened through the power of gratitude. If someone opens up to us privately or publicly, if we thank them for their transparency and honesty, they will feel much better about it and find it easier to open up in the future.
If we take an encouraging supportive view to leadership, people will want to open up because they feel psychologically safe. Gratitude is synonymous with encouragement and support, we can create even more channels of open communication by making decisions collaboratively involving everyone in the process.
If we check in on members of our team regularly we can encourage them with expressions of gratitude and help to push them to achieve even more.
When we consider leadership, a workshop style with team building activities is often safer than more formal meeting style. Workshops are great because we can encourage each other through the power of gratitude, strengthening our teams and encouraging the brainstorming of new ideas.
An environment of psychological safety creates happier, stronger and more productive teams and gratitude is the glue that holds all these steps together.