Is this a safe place ?


How safe is your work place ? No I’m not taking about working with dangerous machinery or hazardous chemicals.  I’ m not referring to the risk of falling objects, flying objects or sharp objects. I’m not thinking about the risk of being shot, run over, attacked, falling from a great height, being electrocuted  or drowning. I’m asking if you feel that your team or organisation is a psychologically safe place. Do you believe you will be punished for making a mistake? Are you afraid of your manager’s reaction if you say something they disagree with? 


If it’s not a safe environment then it won’t be conducive to creativity, employees using their initiative or innovation. Employees will be less likely to own the leaderships vision( all though everyone will pay lip service to it). Change will be painfully slow as people fear getting it wrong. Avoidable mistakes will be made because employees will be reluctant to express concerns for fear of being ridiculed or seen as negative and disloyal.


When we are assessing the psychological safety of a team or workplace/organisation it is often a question of degrees. Your boss is not a complete ogre with no regards for your feelings or views but they could listen more, open up discussion rather than close it down and be more mindful of their tone when responding to comments and queries. The organisation is not a mini North Korea, people can express dissenting views without damaging their career or being seen as disloyal. People can act on their own initiative and try something different without fear of being shot if it goes wrong but maybe this could be more clearly stated and feedback could be helpful rather than critical.   


Whether your team or organisation is a safe place to work isn’t just about accidents and hazards or risk assessments it’s about how safe you feel. 


Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger 


Security level: Public

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