Psychological safety is a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. It can be defined as being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status, or career.
A perfect example with proven data is a two-year Google’s research, called Project Aristotle, where they studied more than 180 teams. The high-performing ones had something in common: a high level of psychological safety.
Like Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google says: “There’s no team without trust.”
But how do you build it?

Data based approach: measure it

If you want to get actual data on how psychologically safe is an environment in your team, you can make a survey. The one from the book Deliberately developmental organization is proposing these questions:

  • If you make a mistake on this team, it is often held against you (R).
  • Members of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues.
  • People on this team sometimes reject others for being different (R).
  • It is safe to take a risk on this team.
  • It is difficult to ask other members of this team for help (R).
  • No one in this team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts.
  • Working with members of this team, my unique skills and talents are valued and utilized.

Note & vote: how might we improve psychological safety

You can hold a brainstorming session with your team. Ask your team members for concrete suggestions on how to improve psychological safety. With a note & vote method, you can prioritize concrete actions that are the most wished for and make an action plan to implement 3 best suggestions.

Psychological safety

Define examples that support and destroy psychological safety

Hold a brainstorming session with your team and write down concrete examples of behavior and actions that either support or destroy psychological safety. It might feel weird and awkward by exposing concrete past behaviors, but sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone as a team. 

Encourage speaking up and taking risks

When your team members are not used to speaking up at meetings to share opinions, you need to build a culture of it. 

  • Whenever someone speaks up, shares a suggestion or an idea, expose it, and award it.
  • When you see someone taking a risk and doing something in a different way, expose it, share an email with the whole team, and praise the individual.
  • Identify behavior that destroys or limits psychological safety and expose it, when it happens.
Psychological safety

As Amy C. Edmondson states in her book The Fearless Organization: “Not every idea is good, and yes there are stupid questions, and yes dissent can slow things down, but talking through these things is an essential part of the creative process. People must be allowed to voice half-finished thoughts, ask questions from left field, and brainstorm out loud; it creates a culture in which a minor flub or momentary lapse is no big deal, and where actual mistakes are owned and corrected, and where the next left-field idea could be the next big thing.”

Want to know more about how to encourage psychological safety in your company?
Read the content of our Psychological Safety Workshop here or write to us at