Psychological Safety

Feeling safe is a fundamental need we all have. If we are raised in an environment filled with drama, exclusion, and ridicule, you may struggle feeling safe being yourself and contributing to teams.

Our childhood shapes our ideas and beliefs. Our culture helps define how we approach life. Our experiences mold how we view the world.

Each person on a team brings a unique set of skills and experiences. We all see life through our own filters. We only have our previous circumstances to guide our behavior.

Here’s an example of improving psychological safety from a team I worked with recently. A Scrum Master could not figure out why a specific tester would not speak up during refinement, but regularly shared their ideas with their lead after the meeting. Since the Scrum Master had a good rapport with the team member, I suggested they simply ask the tester.

After their conversation, the Scrum Master shared that this team member had not been allowed to share their ideas on a previous team; they had been told specifically to share their ideas with the lead so the lead could bring the information forward.

The Scrum Master asked the team member if they wanted to contribute directly, and based on the response, scheduled a conversation for the three of them (Scrum Master, tester, and lead). The lead had no idea about the testers previous experiences; he thought she was just shy and he believed he was supporting her rather than holding her back.

This conversation created improved psychological safety and allowed a brilliant team member to shine. The entire team has learned and grown because of a simple conversation that led to shared understanding and a new mindset.

Has this story prompted you to think of someone you need to talk to about assumptions you may have? Enjoy the clarity.

All my best,

Paulie Skaja
your mindset muse 🙂

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