From increased communication amongst team members to greater encouragement toward sharing of experiences – it all starts with leadership and their ability to develop and encourage empathy and compassion toward others.
The Commercial Perks of a Collaborative Culture
Research shows that people who feel psychologically safe tend to be more innovative and learn from their mistakes. They are also more likely to work together by integrating perspectives, sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve common goals. This is because when we feel safe, we are more motivated to be vulnerable and express conflicting opinions with the knowledge that our colleagues will have our back.
A great example of a company encouraging employees to share more is the Las Vegas based online shoe and clothing retailer, Zappos. By giving space to their teams to use their own creativity to accomplish tasks, Zappos has built autonomy, freedom of exploration and collaboration into the culture of their organisation.
Another great case of a collaborative culture is generated by the cloud computing giant, Salesforce. Voted one of the best places to work by Glassdoor, Salesforce had created its culture around the energy of Ohana, meaning “family” in Hawaiian. Ohana represents the idea that families are bound together and feel a sense of responsibility for one another. This fosters tremendous trust and transparency, further proving the value in feeling safe at work.
Both Zappos and Salesforce show us that to create a psychologically safe environment, organisations must find a way to make communication and empathy – the basis of shaping authentic connections – a fundamental part of team dynamics and organisational culture, as a whole. The good news is that these assets are all within leadership’s ability to influence.
Creating the Right Environment for Creative Risk-Taking
We believe we are most creative - and therefore productive - when we stay true to our whole selves. If we are free to access all aspects of our character and understand them and their manifestation at work, then we can reverse engineer their root cause and develop strategies to balance and control certain negative urges and behaviours that may stem as a result. This leads to greater self-awareness, that then enables a clearer understanding of who we are, where we come from and how we can be the best versions of ourselves going forward. These are the qualities that become real assets when looking to create safe environments at work.
What we know that skills like communication and empathy are like muscles, they require awareness and practice to perform better and better. By taking the time to learn how to exercise these “muscles” in a safe environment, we can develop relationships of greater depth and quality. In a workplace setting, this depth and quality of communication and consideration is what it takes to create the safe space required for teams to collaborate, have honest conversations and often most importantly – take more creative risks.
And as Mark Zuckerberg said: 'The biggest risk is not taking any risk.'
You can create environments conducive to innovation and free thinking by acting in ways that encourage employees to feel accepted and respected. By creating a safe base and investing in regular opportunities for feedback and dialogue, employees are emboldened to take the risks that an organisation relies upon to stay competitive. So look to your team - and not just to technology - to future-proof your business.