Key to effective teamwork: feeling safe enough to take risks

Google just published some research on effective teamwork.  http://on.inc.com/2u73ZQ1    They highlight 5 factors, and state that the key factor is feeling safe enough to take risks with others.

“We’ve all been in meetings and, due to the fear of seeming incompetent, have held back questions or ideas. I get it. It’s unnerving to feel like you’re in an environment where everything you do or say is under a microscope.

But imagine a different setting. A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard. That’s psychological safety.”

This resonates with the research I did with colleagues at Ashridge a few years ago.  Positive change and innovation in organisations tends to correlate with cultures which help staff to feel safe with taking risks.  I covered this idea in my book “Risky Strategy”

feeling safe on a girder

EXTRACT FROM “RISKY STRATEGY”

Available from Amazon on: http://amzn.to/2rrTLvo

So in handling this paradox of safety with risk, our approach to risk will of course therefore be determined by where or how you experience safety. We tend to experience safety where we can truly place our faith.

I am reminded of the exploits of the Niagara Falls tight rope walker in the mid nineteenth century known as “The Great Blondin”, whose real name was Jean Francois Gravelet.  He repeated the stunt of crossing the falls on many occasions, sometimes using other props, like bicycles and wheelbarrows.  On one occasion he is reputed to have taunted the crowd with the question: “How much do you believe in me?” and getting loud affirmation.  He then asked who in the crowd who said they believed in him would get on his back as he crossed the falls.  No one was prepared to do that – no one had that much faith in him

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