Mira Dahlman: Our ground rules for psychological safety

Experiment! Celebrate failure! Change fast! Be agile! A lot of demands for organisations – and their people – these days. As change becomes every day and new innovations are needed on fast pace, how can we achieve all that? What is the way to innovate and succeed in changes?

As Brené Brown said at Nordic Business Forum, we are humans who feel and occasionally think. It is a biological fact that emotions affect a large part of our cognitive processes and we should take that into account when leading teams. We need psychological safety to be able to experiment and fail, to be transparent about how the changes make us feel and to embrace new things.

At CCEA, we have been putting a lot of effort in developing our leadership recently. During the journey we aimed to develop ourselves as leaders as well as our team to reach the next level, and one of the concrete outcomes were the ground rules for our leadership team.When reviewing the rules now after having heard Brené Brown and a few other inspiring speeches at Nordic Business Forum, I feel that our ground rules really capture what is essential to nurture innovations and continuous renewal. The underlying rule is psychological safety.

Here we go with our ground rules:

  • We create environment of psychological safety for discussion, ideas, experiment and bringing up difficult themes.
  • We always assume that we have good intentions in everything we do or say.
  • When we disagree, we focus on the matter, not the person and behave accordingly.
  • We genuinely want to understand why a person thinks on a certain way, and we are open to other person’s thoughts.
  • We discuss matters together.
  • We want to actively hear what the other person has to say, and listen his/her thoughts until the end.
  • We do not blame each other. If we fail, we fail together.
  • We aim to make feedback giving and receiving ordinary every day.
  • We regularly assess together whether we have succeeded in following these rules.

And how do we follow-up on these rules in practise? Here’s what we agreed:

  • We prefer open questions like “Help me understand what you think.”
  • We use S-B-I model (Situation-Behaviour-Impact) when giving feedback, and we do a feedback roundtable in each LT meeting.
  • We give feedback face-to-face, not by email, SMS or any other way.
  • We join the LT meetings full of energy.
  • We assess the progress of our actions against the ground rules in the beginning and end of each LT meeting.

I can say that this thought process was a really good investment and we can see the results in our everyday life. Have you created your ground rules or thought how your team can create psychological safety?