S4E28. Creating a Team of Psychological Safety with Steve Morris

What type of work culture have you created? Does it provide the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake?

Steve Morris started his career designing multi-million dollar racing yachts and building and coaching high-performing teams to help his clients win the most demanding races. He ran and grew a small business, then transitioned his career, becoming a certified project management professional in charge of million dollar budgets and even helping the US Navy launch ships. Six years ago, he started his own business, Catylator, with a mission and passion to help business owners build better lives through creating better businesses, getting unstuck, fueling growth, achieving higher profits, and having more fun with their crew. 

In his work with leadership teams, Steve became aware of the concept of psychological safety. In a Google study that aimed to determine what was different about their highest performing teams, they discovered that the one trait the best teams all had in common was psychological safety.

But what is psychological safety? It’s about creating an atmosphere or environment within a team where members feel safe and comfortable asking questions, taking risks, and giving feedback.

One of the techniques Steve uses to help teams facilitate psychological safety is something he picked up from the Lego Serious Play methodology. The first step is to level the playing field. No matter what your title is, everyone at the table is on equal footing. Then, people build models that represent their ideas and take turns explaining what their model means to them. The beauty of this is that nobody can say, “You’re wrong.” The meaning is personal. This creates an environment that allows people to feel safe sharing their stories.

When you’re able to create the right environment, teams can operate at their best. No idea gets shut down and people feel safe to think outside the box or bring their best ideas to the table. 

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