Have you heard the term psychological safety? What can you do to build a psychologically safe environment? Tim Reitsma and Sarah Wirth—President of EcSell Institute and Amazon best-selling author—talk about her research on how to create a psychologically safe environment and the four behaviors necessary to create and foster psychological safety.
- At EcSell Institute, they define leadership as three key things: building relationship with team members, creating order, and getting people into complexity. [3:33]
- The essence of a better world of work is one that is very centered on creating a great place for people where they can contribute their best ideas, where you can bring out their best talents, where they are inspired and motivated to want to achieve more. [5:12]
Having a more human-centered workplace and being about inspiring and motivating the people around you is really the way to build a better world of work.Sarah Wirth
- Psychological safety is crucial to a great work environment, because essentially, when we have psychological safety at work, people feel like they can be who they genuinely are. [6:10]
- Encourage unique opinions. Getting your team members to feel open, expressing what they really think. [7:49]
- Sarah shares four specific ideas for leaders to create a psychologically safe environment. Encouraging unique opinions, avoiding micromanagement, letting people make mistakes on your team, and supporting smart risk taking. [7:37]
- At EcSell, they study a lot of leaders by looking at surveys from their team members. Their team members’ ratings of how effective their leader is as well as other more empirical data like turnover or performance metrics that they’re trying to hit. That’s where the concept of psychological safety really came from. [9:49]
- Give people that broader direction of where you’re going, because people do need to have at least a vision, a direction, and what’s the expected outcome. That’s helpful to them, but then just leave them more opportunity to figure out the “how”. And the whole reason for trying to create that is that, not only do you get your team members to think and they learn to think for themselves, but you create a different sense of ownership, too. [21:27]
I think one of the best things you can do as a leader is to help build common language among your team members.Sarah Wirth
- As a leader, your team has to believe that you have their best interests at heart. And so, get to know them as a person, not just as an employee. Try to really get to know them as an individual. [31:25]
If you’re in a leadership position, the absolute best thing that you can do to start building psych safety is to start working on that relationship with your team members.Sarah Wirth
- If you’re a team member who’s trying to build better psych safety with your leader so that they listen to you effectively, the first thing that you can do is just be open next time you have an opinion that’s maybe different than your leader. [32:10]
Meet Our Guest
Sarah Wirth has over 20 years of experience in employee assessment, leadership development, sales executive coaching, and customer service.
She began her career as a talent analyst for an international human resource firm, where she coached leaders in organizations ranging from small not-for-profits to Fortune 500 companies. When named chair of leadership consulting and a member of the senior operations team, she helped lead the organization to a 65% increase in revenues. In 2009, she joined a publicly-traded organization as the vice president of client service, increasing client contract retention by 36%. In 2011 Sarah came on board with the EcSell team as Vice President of Member Services, where she oversees member retention and all aspects of sales coaching, leadership and management research. Under Sarah’s leadership, EcSell Institute’s member retention has grown to over 94%.
Sarah has a passion for leadership and its impact on the performance of teams. She takes an analytical approach to understanding the skills and talents of high-performing sales leaders and is constantly providing EcSell members with new methods for leading and coaching.
Sarah has presented to executives from across the globe with organizations such as Mercedes Benz, Estee Lauder, Ritz Carlton, Cheesecake Factory and many more. Her expertise in coaching and leadership, combined with her fact based, common sense approach to their application make her a sought after presenter at any event.
Sarah has a B.A. from the University of Nebraska, holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and is a member of the Nebraska Bar Association. She has also served as a legal advisor for previous employers, specifically in the areas of contract, employment and intellectual property law.
I think of leadership as the ability to bring out the best in the people around you.Sarah Wirth
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Read The Transcript:
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Sarah Wirth To me, the essence of a better world of work is one that is very centered on creating a great place for people, where they can contribute their best ideas, where you can bring out their best talents, where they are inspired and motivated to want to achieve more.
Tim Reitsma Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to help you build a better world of work and to build happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, Tim Reitsma. Have you ever heard of the term psychological safety? I'm pretty confident that you have. So let me ask you this: do you lead with this? Or are you part of a team that strives for psychological safety?
My guest today, Sarah Wirth, President of EcSell Institute and an Amazon bestselling author, with 20 years of experience in employee assessment, leadership development, and executive coaching, dive into her organization's research on how to create a psychological safe environment. There are four behaviors that we need to embrace to create and foster psychological safety.
So what are they? Well, you need to stay tuned.
Welcome to the podcast, Sarah! It is so good to have you on the show. I think we connected a while ago now, when I saw pitch form come through and I knew this is a conversation we need to have. It's timely, our guests are going to just learn so much about this conversation around psychological safety.
And so, so yeah. Welcome to the show!
Sarah Wirth Thanks, Tim! I'm so glad to be with you today.
Tim Reitsma Yeah. And so, for those who are listening, you know, I ask kind of some standard questions at the beginning. And the first one is I would just love to learn a little bit about what you're up to these days. What's kind of top of mind for you right now?
Sarah Wirth Yeah. Well, since we look at leadership development here at EcSell Institute, I am obviously pretty focused on what leaders can be doing to drive better retention of their team members. We all know that we've been going through the great resignation and a lot of people deciding to move on to different companies, different careers.
And so our clients, like pretty much every business is across the board are really concerned with keeping their great people and what they can be doing to do that. So we've been doing a lot of research lately into what drives better retention of team members and the topic that we're gonna talk about today is psych safety, is certainly one of those.
Tim Reitsma Yeah. I think, you know, I like what you said is just that drive better retention. Like we know we could release this podcast in two years or not, but we could and it's still going to be a relevant conversation to have, because organizations are seeing an influx of turnover. But we also know that retaining our top talent should be a priority and not just say, okay, see you later.
You know, there's a whole slew of issues and complexities that can come up with that. And so that kinda leads into my next question is, well, what does it mean to be a leader?
Sarah Wirth Yeah, that's a great question. So, I think of leadership kind of big picture as the ability to bring out the best in the people around you. Because as their leader, you're trying to help them accomplish things that they wouldn't have otherwise accomplished without you there. That's the elevation that hopefully, you bring as a leader.
At our company, we kind of define it as three key things. Number one, building the relationship with team members so that they trust you, so that they want to follow your lead. And so that they know that you really care about them as individuals, not just as employees.
The second thing is creating order so that they know where we're going, what's the vision, what's expected of me so that I can follow that clear direction. And then the third thing is getting them into complexity, which is quite simply challenging them outside their comfort zone, making sure that they have growth opportunities so that they keep advancing in their skill sets and what they're capable of doing.
And so I think you bring those all together and that's pretty encompassing of what a great leader does.
Tim Reitsma Oh, that's great. I love that. Relationship, create order, and complexity. Those three things really sums up, yeah, exactly what a leader needs to be doing.
It's not, you know, making sure timesheets are in on time. It's, you know, that's, that's not the definition of a leader, and it then kind of flows into my third question, which is about our purpose here at People Managing People, which is around build a better world of work. So when you hear that phrase, build a better world of work, what comes to mind?
Sarah Wirth Yeah. You know, I think it's really important to just make work a little bit more human. One of the things that we see a lot in the research around leadership and what people pay attention to, there's a lot of things on strategy. There's a lot of things on decision-making. There's a lot of things on innovation and trying to create the right direction for your company.
And those are all really important things. But to me, the essence of a better world of work is one that is very centered on creating a great place for people, where they can contribute their best ideas, where you can bring out their best talents, where they are inspired and motivated to want to achieve more.
And so I think having a more human-centered workplace and being about inspiring and motivating the people around you is really the way to build that better world of work.
Tim Reitsma Yeah, and I think that's a fantastic lead in to our conversation today around psychological safety. Because the first question that pops into my mind when I hear your answer around that human-centered is how do we do that?
How do we actually create places where people can thrive, can be creative, can not be afraid of failing at something? How do we actually do that?
Sarah Wirth You know, that's where psychological safety really is crucial to a great work environment. Because essentially, when we have psychological safety at work, people feel like they can be who they genuinely are.
They can share their real opinion, you know, even if you are their boss and they think that the strategy that you define isn't gonna be the best strategy, they feel comfortable saying to you, I disagree. I think we should do this instead. They feel comfortable because you've created psychologically safety with them where they feel like I can be honest.
I think that's a huge part of it. Because when we have that, what it leads to is everybody contributing their best thoughts, their best ideas, their best way of working, because they're not fearful of what will happen just because they don't go along with what everybody else on the team thinks.
Tim Reitsma Yeah. The key word in there that that's resonated with me is fearful. It's to reduce that fear. And so I'm gonna go a little deeper on that is, then how do we reduce that fear? Because I know, if people listening to this have come from organizations which are fear-based organizations, you know, it comes, so I know for me, I come into that even my current role with some baggage, some fear.
So how do we move past that, that state of fear, and really embrace this this term, psychological safety?
Sarah Wirth Yeah. There's some things that you can do proactively as a leader to try to create this psychologically safe environment. And I wanna talk about four of them with you today that are specific ideas that hopefully leaders can takeaway.
One of those is encouraging unique opinions. Getting your team members to feel open, expressing what they really think, sharing a disagreement, not feeling like they have to go along with what everybody else says, just because, you know, that's what the group is leaning towards. So how do we encourage that? That's one thing.
A second thing is avoiding micromanagement. We think of micromanagement sometimes as, you know, wanting to make sure that every detail is perfect. And I think that's part of it, but what we don't always realize is the stifling effect that it has on our team members. Because they start to feel like I have to do it exactly the way that you said I have to do it.
And therefore, any idea, any improvement, any creativity just kind of gets sucked out of it, cuz I feel like I've gotta do it your way. And that's a big problem with micromanagement and why it hurts psych safety.
A third thing that you can do is just make people, let people make mistakes on your team. If we want people to grow and improve and develop in their roles, they're gonna make mistakes along the way. If they're doing something for the first time, they're not gonna do it perfectly. And so you need an environment where they feel like they can fail so long as they're trying to grow and improve and they learn from it.
And then the fourth thing is supporting smart risk-taking. We want people to be innovative. We want them to bring us good ideas. We want them to try different things to get better. And so at times, you gotta be willing to let them try something a little bit different than maybe what you would normally do so that they can get that better result.
Tim Reitsma Yeah. I love those four things that we can do to foster psychological safety. And, and this I think for our listeners, this isn't just an opinion. This is actually based on empirical supported findings that, that you have done in your organization. And so maybe just talk to us a little bit about how you uncovered things that we can do?
Sarah Wirth Yeah, that's such a good question, because it's really important to us that everything that we are sharing with our clients, with your listeners today, that it's based in research, not just our opinion around what we think good leadership is. So essentially what we do is we study a lot of leaders. We do that primarily by looking at surveys from their team members.
Their team members ratings of how effective their leader is as well as other more empirical data like turnover or performance metrics that they're trying to hit. And then we look to see what are the best leaders doing differently than other leaders? And how do they separate themselves and their approach to how they lead and coach?
And so that's where the concept of psychological safety really came from, is seeing that the best leaders are more consistent in building that psychological safety. And then we look to see, okay, so what outcomes or what behaviors are really correlating to that psychological safety? So what are the specific things that they're doing that help to lead to more psychological safety?
And again, we do that through looking at our survey research. And based on that, we've seen that leaders that do a great job of creating psych safety, they tend to do these four behaviors more consistently than leaders that struggle to build psych safety.
Tim Reitsma So I can imagine by, you know, going through the survey results, by, you know, interviewing or talking to employees and leaders, I'm sure there's some stories out there.
You know, I'm not asking you to say names, company names, anything like that, but what have you seen out there in, in your world of work where, a good example or even maybe a not so good example within, of psychological safety within an organization or an environment or a team?
Sarah Wirth Yeah. Yeah. I remember I was presenting on the concept of psychological safety to one of our clients a couple years ago. And it was the first time they'd heard the terms. I was introducing it to them and helping them understand what it meant to have good psych safety. And it was like this epiphany during the conversation, because what they realized is that they had created a work environment where people were really scared to take risks.
They were really scared to try anything different, to try anything new, even to frankly suggest a different idea, because the work environment wasn't that psychologically safe. And so they felt like if they said or thought or acted in any different way outside of what everybody else was doing, that they would get reprimanded for it.
That they would, you know, get told, you know, we don't appreciate that. Or, you know, even more strongly get in trouble with leadership for trying something different. And so that was a big aha. Okay, so why do we have people that are so scared of coming up with new ideas? Well, because we've created an environment that said, don't bring us any of those. So, that was a bad example.
I've personally experienced the reverse of that. In fact, when I joined EcSell Institute about 12 years ago, the reason I decided to accept the offer from the company is that I was attending one of their summits, just to kind of get a little bit of a taste at the culture.
And at the end of the day, they met back as a group and there was a summit intern, a college student who was doing this part-time to, to learn this type of work. And the CEO of the company was asking for feedback on how do you think the day went, you know, suggestions for tomorrow? What do you guys wanna do differently?
And he actually took criticism from this summit intern who was about, you know, 35 years younger than he was. And I didn't count, you know, a lick of business experience, but had a really good point about something that we should do differently and something that he specifically should do differently.
And the way that he responded to that was like, thank you. You know, I appreciate that. That's really helpful feedback, as opposed to getting defensive or shutting her down. And so that just shows what can happen and the good ideas that can come from everywhere as long as you create psychological safety for your team members.
Tim Reitsma Yeah. It's you know, an organization that is driven by fear. I just think of the lack of innovation, the lack of good results, the lack, of retaining top talent in that type of organization where it's, you know, CEO says, yeah, I, pass me the feedback and just then just argues with it. And I've seen that in my journeys in my career where, you know, top leaders don't wanna hear it.
And don't want to hear the feedback. Don't want to collect it. And then that just raises, yeah, it raises the fear and stifles that creativity with, and within the organization.
Sarah Wirth Yeah. And then they wonder why they don't have any leaders coming up underneath them. They, you know, then they're saying things like, well, why do we have anybody who can make really good strategic decisions?
Well, because you've taught them not to do that. You've taught them just to do exactly what you say you think should happen. And so it, it creates this cycle.
Tim Reitsma Yeah, absolutely. There's a podcast guest we've had on a few years ago, John Carter, and he was one of the co-inventors of the Bose noise-canceling headphones.
And he was saying, talking about how allowing, supporting smart risk-taking, and moving past those mistakes will lead to innovation within your organization. And man I've, I can imagine there's some people leaders or even HR teams listening to this going, no, I just have my to-do list. I just gotta get it done so I can go home.
And that's it. And so, you know, what is maybe that one thing, like what is something, like if you're an individual contributor listening to this, or, you know, manager or leader of a team, where do you start? Like how if you're in a nonsafe environment you know, psych safe environment, what do you do? Did you just get up and leave? Hand your resignation letter, like, is that just the easiest way out or is there other options?
Sarah Wirth Yeah, it's probably the easiest way out, for sure. But there are definitely some things that you can do if you feel like you're caught in that role. And you're trying to, you know, frankly encourage the people around you to have better psych safety. One of the simplest things that you can do is talk to your leader, talk to your peers whenever you are gonna share an idea. And just let them know, I want, I wanna share this with you. I know this is maybe a different way of thinking.
I would just really appreciate going into this conversation, your open mind and let's just see if we can consider it. Doesn't mean we have to follow it, doesn't mean we have to, you know, choose to go down this path, but let's just be open-minded in considering it. That way, it starts to set the tone you're kind of telling somebody.
They should know to have an open mind anyway, but they maybe don't, or that's not maybe their reflex. And so by setting that tone, you're just asking them. Okay, yes, I, you know, I should keep an open mind to this. And so you're setting the stage differently. And so little things like that, that you say before you share an idea, especially if you know you're sharing it with somebody who tends to be pretty tunnel vision it's just a way to help them get in the right mindset to be more open.
Tim Reitsma Yeah, that openmindedness, it's you know, I'm guilty of it. Of, Hey, here's a project we need to get worked on. I have ideas, you know, come find me and I'll share my ideas. And then I get, you know, a message saying, Hey, what's your ideas? And then I'll flush out my whole plan and realize, well, wait a minute, now I've just stifled a unique opinion.
I've micromanaged I've removed some risk and I'm always right. So there's no mistakes. So I've done the exact opposite of of what your data-supported behaviors has said. And so even as a leader, it's easy to just say, somebody, asks your opinion on something and say, oh, I'm just gonna give it.
Versus, okay, what would you do in this situation? How would you handle this? What do you think works? Cause that takes time and I hear it so often is, we just don't have time, so we gotta move quick. So even in that, how do we ensure that we carve out that time? And I know like this, this could be a whole, you know, episode series on time management, but how do we ensure that we are carving out that, that space for our teams?
Sarah Wirth Yeah, no, that's a great question. And I hear it from leaders all the time, too, Tim. You know, I'll ask 'em 'cause we, we teach a lot of asking questions when you're trying to coach people as opposed to giving them answers.
And when I ask leaders, like why don't you ask more questions? 'cause they'll all agree that, yes, you know, I should ask more questions. I should try to help them figure out the answer for themselves. I realize conceptually that's good, but in that moment the things that really get to them, number one, like you said — time, right?
It's just faster to tell somebody, 'this is how you should do it', versus having a conversation with them for 5, 10 minutes and helping 'em figure out what they think should happen. But also we like to be helpful. Somebody asks a question, the helpful thing to do is to answer their question. And so we kind of get caught in that knee jerk response of, I wanna be helpful.
I think sometimes we also have that mindset of, you know, we do know a lot and we kind of wanna show it off. You know, I, you have a complex problem with a customer that you can't figure out. Well, let me tell you, you know, I'm the wise old sage, right, that knows the answer. And so that feels good to be, to be knowledgeable.
So we're fighting all of those instincts when somebody comes to us with a question. But I think that the hardest thing to do, but at the same time, the simple thing that we have to do is just stop ourselves. And I will literally stop myself sometimes mid-answer, because I have all those same instincts that I just talked about.
I have those two. And so even though I teach this stuff, I, you still get caught up in that moment. So I'll have a team member ask me, like, you know, Hey, describe a situation. What do you think I should do here? And I just roll right into an answer. And after about 5, 10 seconds of talking, I say, wait. I need to stop.
I wanna talk about what you think you should do. I wanna hear your ideas. I wanna hear your analysis of the situation first, and then I start asking questions. But I literally have to catch myself and that's what we just need to get in the habit of doing so that our instinct becomes over time. Somebody asks the question and we wanna try to ask them a question to help them figure out that answer for themselves.
Tim Reitsma Yeah, I was sharing before we hit the record button that that I got caught in that recently where somebody said, somebody on my team asked, you know, what should I do here? And I said, okay, well, here's what I would do.
And then it was on Slack. And my next message was, but disregard that. I want to hear what you wanna do what you think, which you know, now it's already out there, it's already there. And and so we, yeah, we often catch ourselves in that. And yeah, we can have psychological safety in my opinion, and still tell all the answers.
It could still be that safe environment. But we're, but we get caught up in that micromanagement. So then if something does go wrong, you know, who's you know, who to fault? You know, where do we look to blame?
Sarah Wirth Absolutely. Absolutely. So when I, and when I think about like what you're saying around micromanagement and how you want to really avoid that, if you can give people that broader direction of where we're going, you know, cause people do need to have at least a vision, a direction, you know, what's the expected outcome.
That's helpful to them, but then just leave them more opportunity to figure out the "how". What are we gonna do? What are gonna be our first steps? And the whole reason for trying to create that is that, not only do you get your team members to think, and they learn to think for themselves, but you create a different sense of ownership, too.
We like our own ideas. We tend to think our ideas are pretty smart. And so even if my boss had the same idea that I did. If my boss is telling me this what, is what I should do versus me saying, here's what I think I should do. I'm gonna take more ownership when it's the latter because now it's me articulating.
Here's what I think should happen. And so I feel like I wanna own those results differently. And so avoiding micromanagement really has that additional benefit besides building better site safety with our team members.
Tim Reitsma And it, it ties directly back to our question at the beginning about build a better world of work.
And we, we continue to hear the word trust and we continue to hear that, you know, the human-centered piece and that sense of ownership. And yet, because those three things keep coming up, there's so much data to support that's not happening in our workplaces. And there's some disparity between that.
So we all believe we know in our hearts that's what we need to do, and yet it seems so hard to do it. And, and is it as simple as starting with, okay, we're gonna create a psych safe environment and we're gonna change the way we lead and manage and direct. Is it as simple as that?
Sarah Wirth I think, I think one of the best things you can do as a leader is help to build common language among your team members. The like, so letting them know about the concept of psych safety, that this is something that's important to have. I want you guys to feel this sense of psych safety. Here's some things that I'm working on or that I wanna do to create better psych safety. Because if you put it out there, team members know that this is how it's supposed to be, and it helps make them your kind of accountability partner in really driving that type of culture on your team.
Because they feel like, you know, you're supposed to be, you're supposed to be listening to me. You're supposed to be asking me questions. You're supposed to be valuing my opinion and my input. And so if you put that out there as something that you're trying to create, it helps them respond that way accordingly.
And even frankly, sometimes remind you that, Hey, you know, I wanna share my opinion first before you share yours. Right? Simple things like that, it just helps them know that this is what we're trying to create. And we have a name for it when we're not feeling it. And so I think that also helps people take action on it more because they understand this is a concept that's important and that we all have to try to contribute to that.
Tim Reitsma I can imagine, that would be so scary for some. Saying, you know, going in next week into your team meeting and saying, look, this is how we're going to run our team and in this psych safe way. And here's how it's defined. Do we agree? I mean, that might be a 180 in how you're leading your team because, I've seen it often where team meetings are just about how we track another goals. Anything we're stuck on. Rah, rah, let's go. Not let's sit down and define what this means together, because then it creates that sense of accountability. That's scary.
Sarah Wirth That is scary. Yeah. It is scary for a leader and it's funny.
I will have leaders ask me sometimes, you know, I wanna try these different approaches. I wanna try, you know, doing maybe a 180 from what I've been doing. Isn't my team gonna think it's weird if I just start managing them totally differently? And I, you know, my response to them is, yeah, they'll probably think like what happened.
And my point of view is it's the best thing is just have an honest dialogue with them. Say, you know what? I've been reading a lot or learning a lot, or however they've been taken in the information about becoming a better leader. I'm trying to work on my skills just in the same way that I ask you to work on your skills all the time.
I'm trying to get better at it. And so one of the concepts that caught my eye recently is building better psych safety on our team and how important that is to help team members really maximize their talents and their contributions. And so here's some things I wanna do differently. I think it sends such a good message to your team because you're being a little personally vulnerable yourself and admitting.
You know what, I'm not the perfect leader. I'm trying to get better. And I can't think of a better message to send to your team that you want to develop and grow and personally better themselves than I'm trying to do that with myself, for you too. So now all of a sudden we create this culture on our team where we're willing to admit, you know what, we're not perfect and we're trying to get better.
And here's what we're doing to work on it. I think that's a great environment to build.
Tim Reitsma Yeah, it's you know, if somebody's listening to this and saying like, look, I lead a team and we don't have a lot of trust in the team. Okay, well, it starts with you as a leader. Like how are you going to be vulnerable? How are you going to show up and create an environment where people can rally around where you're going, around that clarity, around that direction.
But it's turning around that mirror, you know, looking at yourself and saying, okay, what am I doing as a leader to create this environment? And yeah, it could be a little awkward and saying, look, I don't like the direction we've been going. Getting results, but at what cost? So here's what we're gonna do. And here's how I'm going to show up. And here's how you, team, can hold me accountable.
Sarah Wirth Absolutely. Well, and, and Tim, I think you bring up a really good point that, you know, when the whole culture of the team is that way, I think the leader has to start by looking at themselves. You know, speaking of a concept of like psych safety I'll let leaders know, you know, if you have one team member that doesn't feel psychologically safe, that might be more about them.
You know, maybe some confidence levels that they are struggling with, or maybe they've had a past leader that really didn't create great psych safety. So they're just, you know, a little gun shy of doing that with a new leader. But if it's your team, you gotta look at you, because that's saying that this is the type of environment and the relationship that you've created with pretty much everybody. And so that's probably something that you're doing, usually inadvertently not purposefully but that you're doing, that's creating that type of environment.
So I, I do think starting with the leaders really crucial.
Tim Reitsma Yes. Starting with the leaders and leaders need to own it. And own it, whether people are in your team, whether it's maybe through an anonymous survey about, Hey, do you feel, psychologically safe? If the answers are resounding "no", don't blame the organization. Own it. Take ownership of it.
Sarah Wirth Absolutely. And you can get better at it. That's the really cool thing with it too. was talking with a leader a few weeks ago who, who got some survey results that said essentially what you just said, which is, you know, we're a little, we're a little fearful of making mistakes on this team.
You know, our leaders are pretty strong perfectionists. And she's somebody who really cares about being a great leader and cares about her team and didn't realize she was doing this. And, and definitely didn't mean to have those negative intentions. And so I loved just hearing from her that accountability that, yeah, this is something that, you know, I hate seeing this and I wanna work on, and we just talked through some specific steps that she could be doing differently and then heard back from her like a month later.
And her boss had said, Hey, I really had noticed that you were interacting differently with your team. It seems like you're really, you know, making some strides and trying to build a different rapport with them. So she took it and acted on it.
And I think it's so crucial that leaders realize it's not just you're born with the ability to create psych safety or you're not. These four specific steps that we're talking about today, you can do that and you can, you can change your style and be able to be more effective in building it.
Tim Reitsma Yeah, that's such a, an important point is, not just saying, Hey, you know, we're a fear-based organization. We're gonna own that. And if you are, own it. You know, I'm curious to results of that. But I'd be also be curious if you flipped that and said, okay, no we're gonna build an organization where people feel safe, where they feel heard, where they feel valued.
And I'd be hard pressed to say that your, your bottom line, your revenue, everything will grow. And when, when people are excited to be coming to work every day. And so you can change that style and you don't need to wait for HR to roll out a program about psychological safety. It's something that you can do today.
You can listen to this. You can connect with Sarah. You can connect with me and say, okay, I'm stuck. Don't know where to go. And, but I know I need to change. That's, if somebody is listening to this, and they're headed into the office and maybe there's some dread going on there. I don't know what state people are in right now, but what is one thing that you can do today to either start building psychological safety within your team or as an individual contributor to, to start even building from that, that grassroots level?
Sarah Wirth So I'd say if you're in a leadership position, the absolute best thing that you can do to start building psych safety is to start working on that relationship with your team members. You mentioned the word trust earlier and they have to believe that you have their best interests at heart. And so get to know them as a person. That, you know, not just as an employee, try to really get to know them as an individual.
What they care about, what makes them tick, what they get excited about, because the more that they trust you, the more that they're gonna have psych safety with you. And you're gonna be able to use these ideas of like encouraging opinions, not micromanaging. You're gonna be able to build on that, but it all starts with that relationship of trust. So I think that's the first thing that you can do.
And I think if you're a team member who's trying to build better psych safety with your leader so that they listen to you effectively, I think the first thing that you can do is just be open next time you have an opinion that's maybe different than your leader. Set the stage, let them know, hey, I have an idea that's probably different than what you're thinking. You know, it might be a little bit outside the box, but I just appreciate you hearing me out and thinking it through with me.
And then be willing to kind of take that step where you take a little bit more of a risk and share it, and see how they respond. Cause I think if you set the stage right, they're not gonna come down on you just for having that different opinion especially if you do it in a way that recognizes, Hey I want you to, I want you to listen.
Let's have an open dialogue and that can certainly help set the stage right.
Tim Reitsma I love that. As a leader and a team member, it's that relationship. Build that relationship, get to know people outside of just a first name and a last name, and hopefully, you know, at a minimum, no but. But build that relation, take the time, carve out the time. We talked earlier about time and how it's scarce, but you know, we've got it.
And then we choose how to allocate things to that time. So, so choose that wisely. And then as that team member, I love that. Just be open and be, you know, be vulnerable. And even saying Hey boss, Hey leader, you know, I've got an opinion that is a little different than what you're saying. Or I have an idea, can we explore it?
Sarah Wirth Yep, absolutely. And I think you set the stage like that. Like I listened to you just say that Tim, and I'm like how can anybody say no to that? Right? Like how can anybody, you know, say no to some, somebody who's being vulnerable like that? So I think when you set the stage like that, it really makes them more receptive too.
Tim Reitsma Yeah. if you do get a resounding, Nope, just do it my way then, you know, that's a whole other conversation to have. But, you know, just as we wrap up there's, you know, like just those four behaviors: encourage unique opinions, avoid micromanagement, support smart risk-taking, and move quickly past mistakes.
I'm gonna remember those four. I'm gonna memorize them. And when I am falling into that trap of am I, you know, is, am I actually creating a safe environment? I'm gonna remember those. So for those who are listening, those are the four main takeaways. Take those, you'll see them in the show notes. We'll put that all over our social media as well.
And Sarah, thank you so much for having a fun and safe conversation around psychological safety.
Sarah Wirth Thanks so much, Tim. I really enjoyed it.
Tim Reitsma Yeah. And for those who are listening, again, we'll put a link to Sarah's LinkedIn, as well as her organization. And so if you are interested to connect, please do so.
And as always, if you like the show, love for you to leave a comment, please rate us, all that good stuff. And if you have an idea for an upcoming episode, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I always love, to get feedback and hear your thoughts on how we're doing.
So, with that, Sarah, again, thanks for coming on.
Sarah Wirth Thanks, Tim!
Tim Reitsma All right, everyone, have a great day!