1 simple take-away you need

Players: do you feel like you trust the people on your team?

Coaches: do your players trust you?

Here is what you need to know about creating a good feeling within your team. Psychological safety is a result. It describes a condition where individuals in a group feel safe to take interpersonal risk. In simple terms, you aren’t worried about what people think of you. The job of creating psychological safety is creating an environment where everyone feels prepared to do their job to the best of their abilities. That is leadership.

A great leader makes it so that every player can take risks on the ice, speak up for what they think is important, and truly be themselves without fear of being sidelined, missing an opportunity, or being judged negatively.

Here’s why it’s a big deal and how you can foster it within your team (whether you are a coach our player).

As a coach:

Make your players know this through your words and actions: mistakes and differences are okay, but the team values are celebrated. If a player feels they cannot be themself, remind them they can be something better… they can be a part of a team. There must still be room for that player’s individuality (which with their AthleteDISC, might look different than the team values), but the player will feel better when they feel safe and welcomed into their environment.

As a player:

Be willing to put yourself out there. You might not like how people treat you when you say something unpopular or make a mistake on the ice. But what will really hurt you over time is if you show you don’t care about anything more than yourself. Care about what the team cares about. You will get what you give, so give an attitude that makes others feel willing to do their thing… and it will come right back to you.

More Background on Psychological Safety

Psychological safety isn’t just about being kind or friendly with each other. Here are some examples:

  1. Feeling free to make bold plays if that is part of what it takes to win.
  2. Team members listening to others when they voice new strategies, even if they are unpopular.
  3. A willingness to be oneself without the worry of being looked down upon.

In a psychologically safe team, players feel encouraged to go for what they believe will make them successful. You don’t have to allow or encourage any behaviors that don’t fit the culture (team rules and values still apply), but a psychologically safe team assumes that each other have good intentions and lets them act as themselves towards those bigger goals. That means each person must bring good intentions.

Why spend any time creating a psychological team? Teams that get this right often see a boost in performance, sure. But these teams also learn complex tasks/systems faster, are more motivated, and the players have a more positive experience.

Plus, building a psychologically safe team is simpler than you think. There is one inaction, rather than an action. The single principle is this:

  1. Do not overtly shame players or teammates in front of others for well-intentioned mistakes, ignorances, or errors in judgment.

Instead, help your players or teammates become the kind of person they want to (and are willing to) be. Build a culture where feedback is constructive, and mistakes are stepping stones to mastery.

Leaders and coaches play a big role in making this a reality. Setting the tone for open communication and trust means being willing to have in depth conversations rather than quick dismissal. Leaders must do this in a respectful way and recognizing that feedback, even when critical, is about making everyone better.

Then you have to deliver the feedback in a way that meets others where they are.

Psychological safety is the backbone of a winning team culture. Individuals can cultivate it on their own. But just like 1 player doing extra to improve himself, it works better when a whole team is on board (from the very top to the very bottom).

Questions on the topic? Email us to schedule a free 30 minute consultation on how to make your team more psychologically safe. Don’t hesitate, the best development and results happen when people aren’t worried about the wrong things.