An important aspect of being a great leader is knowing when and how to create what Ken Perlman refers to as “psychological safety.”
“Pioneered by Amy Edmondson at Harvard University, psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes,” said Perlman, managing director at CultureSync and a professor at the University of Southern California (USC). “It’s essential to high performance.”
During a recent Guild 21 podcast sponsored by VeriFacts, Perlman shared tips on how to be a great leader and foster an environment of psychological safety.
“As a leader, it’s your job to make it safe for other people to contribute ideas, ask questions and challenge how things are,” said Perlman. “If they don’t feel safe, they are going to hold back.”
Many of his favorite techniques are based on his 30 years of business experience. He often shares them in the course he teaches at USC related to organizational design and creating high-performing teams. He said they are easy to put into practice and can achieve immediate results.
Perlman began his Guild 21 discussion talking about what it takes to create an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up and sharing what they believe. A large part of this centers on the “rules of engagement.”
“Whenever you are part of a team or in a group, there are rules of engagement, whether they are written or discussed,” he explained. “Sometimes they are unwritten, and we call them ‘culture,’ and other times they are written, and we call them guidelines.”
He suggested implementing the “Family Feud” rule. Similar to the popular game show, Perlman said the Family Feud rule is when every answer an employee shares is honored and respected.
“It’s a way of creating an environment that is a lot less risky for someone to speak up,” said Perlman.
He also shared information about a research study conducted by Google that was undertaken to learn about their employees and what makes them successful.