PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY: A PREREQUISITE FOR CONTINUOUS LEARNING

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In the modern business world, organisations demand employees who are creative, vocal, innovative and high self-monitors so that they can contribute continuously towards the achievement of organizational goals (Edmondson, 1999). Increasingly, it has been observed that these attributes of employees are helpful for organization’s growth and development, however, such attributes involve individual and interpersonal risk and must be supported by the work environment that may lead employees to actively contribute to learning processes.

To promote continuous learning and innovative culture in an organisation, psychological safety is the basic requirement. It refers to the feeling of employees that they can easily and comfortably share their perspectives in front of their superiors and peers and can take interpersonal risks. In a psychologically safe work environment, employees feel accepted and respected and moreover, they feel that they will not be rejected, punished, and humiliated for speaking up their minds. When psychological safety is present, employees feel less concerned about the potential negative consequences of expressing a novel idea or thought in a team.

Team members respect each other’s competencies and involve themselves in a healthy brainstorming session in a psychologically safe work environment. Members are allowed to take interpersonal risks and even they involve in constructive conflict sometimes, they offer feedback to each other without being judgmental about others’ ideas.

According to recent research conducted by Google’s people-analytics division, psychological safety has been found to be one of the most important factors for building high-performance work teams (Bergmann and Schaeppi, 2016) that are driven by creativity. In industries such as aviation, hospitality and healthcare, the safety of customers is of great importance and so is important for employees to make minimal mistakes and enhance safety by increasing learning processes across the teams (Edmondson 2011; Wang and Lin 2014).

Psychological safety is considered as one of the hygiene factors for inculcating creativity and innovative culture as core values for organisations. It provides many benefits to organizations and teams. a) It improves the chances that a team member’s potential endeavour will lead to successful innovation. b) It also enhances the degree to which people learn from their mistakes as they are allowed to test and retest their ideas. c) It boosts employee engagement and enhances team innovation. d) It promotes learning and creativity at all levels. e) It leads to transparency and open communication amongst employees that eventually influence workplace productivity.

Last but not the least, you may be doing well today, however, intellectually, you will not be absolutely acceptable 10-15 years from now, unless, you are focusing on continuous learning and innovation. To keep innovating products and services that the stakeholders today and in near future will appreciate, serious attention to be paid to psychological safety because it is very difficult for people to offer creative ideas without a safe and sound environment. Basically, it is not only the appropriate thing to do for the team members and for your organization to enhance productivity, but it is the right thing for human development as well.

Dr. Rashmi Maini
Assistant Professor
Jaipuria Institute of Management, Ghaziabad