The Psychological Safety Anchor In The Workplace
What are you doing right now?
Is what you’re working on right now,
- of value?
- seen by others?
- of good enough quality?
- the top priority?
- contributing to the goal of the organisation?
It’s often difficult for people to know that what they’re doing is the right thing, and if their work is contributing to the mission of the organisation.
What are the expectations placed upon you?
Knowing what to do, when to do it, what standards to adhere to, and what to do first, are the fundamental basics of performance. Knowing your role and the expectations upon you are crucial for psychological safety.
Unfortunately, many teams and organisations fail to connect the day-to-day contributions of individuals to the broader goal of the enterprise. And that’s because it’s hard work, and it requires significant management effort and capability.
Indeed in some organisations, the term “management” can be seen as a dirty word – a throwback to the bad old days of Taylorist command-control and hierarchical structures, bureaucracy and ruling by fear.
What is management anyway?
In reality, good management is absolutely fundamental to high performing teams; indeed, it is fundamental to the happiness and the psychological safety of team members. In order to feel safe, valued, and significant, people need to understand clearly what is expected of them and that what they’re doing is useful and valuable. Management is a core component of leadership.
Task-level work must be connected to the goal of the organisation. More importantly, people must be connected to the goal of the organisation – they must know what it is, and how they can contribute to it. Without this, people can become adrift.
The “Goal” is your Psychological Safety “Anchor”
This connection to the goal is the psychological anchor. Whenever someone becomes unsure about what to do, how to do it, what to do first, or how important something is, this anchor helps bring them back to where they need to be. The anchor is their safety.
Sometimes, without this anchor, people may over-work in order to psychologically compensate for the potential lack of direction. We feel a deep need to contribute and provide value, and without knowing that we’re contributing to the goal, compensating by over-contributing is common.
A psychologically safe team, who understands the goal of the organisation and how they can contribute to it will only do the work that delivers value, and won’t feel the need to over-compensate.
Ensure that you provide your team with a constant anchor of a well-articulated and clear mission. And ensure that they know how they can contribute to it.