In early 2023 I was asked to lead a newly merged team, an exciting but daunting opportunity.
Restructuring is initially difficult. What's on the other side is even more difficult: creating or reconnecting the connection and alignment in the team.
This global team of 12 was already struggling with some performance issues and a lack of clarity.
People worked in silos and didn't collaborate effectively. They felt separated, which also affected confidence in the team.
Without onehealthy team culture, we couldn't possibly achieve business results. That's why we decided to prioritize building trust within the team.
Over the next few months, we conducted a series of confidence-building exercises with the team before bringing them together in person for the first time.
Here's what I learned from this experience: As challenging as organizational change may look, what we prioritize and how we perform in the process is critical.
In this blog, I share how we designed an offsite team to increase psychological safety and build a strong team base.
- Build trust in a distributed team
- Connecting people with a purpose
- Day 1: Getting to know each other
- Day 2: Define trust in the team
- Day 3: Create alignment through team goals
Build trust in a distributed team
With 12 mostly remote team members spread across America, Europe and Asia, this team is one of the most diverse and dispersed units in Slido.
As a new manager, my first priority was to make clear the expectations and desired outcomes for our team. This meant understanding the issues and outlining a step-by-step approach to bridging the gaps.
To facilitate this process, we spent the first two months assessing: identifying the issues, getting to know the team as individuals and as a group, listening and encouraging people to open up.
We talked, ranCheck the votes, made use ofanonymousFeedback and created focus groups.
This thorough assessment was a crucial part of understanding what the team needed to create a healthy, functioning place.For us the biggest needs were:
- Create social cohesion
- Set up shared tasks
- Defining the team's goal and aligning it with the goals
- Build and maintain trust
Based on the evaluation, we came to the conclusion that we should focus on constructionpsychological securitywithin the team.Our team members needed to be comfortable working together, discussing ideas,Questions, worries or mistakes without fear of being punished or humiliated.
Connecting people with a purpose
Given the unique challenges faced by our remote team, we decided to create a physical, personal setting for our offsite. We have set three main goals for Offsite:
- Get to know each other's strengths, talents, fears and ways of working
- Build trust in the team and agree on the team principles to be followed
- Agree on the goal and start working together on common goals and projects
Last but not least, social cohesion remained the overarching goal for us: having fun together.
Day 1: Getting to know each other
We started with a scavenger hunt so the team could learn about each other's working styles in a practical and tangible way.
It was both fun and showed how different people approach problem solving or what role they play in team dynamics. Plus, it was full of creativity! You can customize the tasks specifically for your team.
🎁 Here is a scavenger hunt format designed by our winning team coach, Dodo Dolinka.Download it here.
In the afternoon we moved on to a more serious session about learning each other's strengths and weaknesses, preferred communication and working styles, and finding out how people like to receive feedback.
Our biggest lesson was that people need enough time to process what they have learned. When planning sessions where we ask people to be vulnerable, it's important to give them space to process.
📖 If you want to learn more about practical exercises that build psychological safety in your team, join usmaster classam 31. May 2023.
Day 2: Define trust in the team
The second day was about building trust and creating and living our team principles. We used Brené Browns for thisBRAVING frame.We wanted this exercise to be as introspective and constructive as possible, to help people understand how each person begins.
The exercise consisted of two parts:
1. Rate our current state of "Confidence".
2. Develop and commit to team principles that promote trust
Using Slido was crucial for both of them as it helped us to find out how people are really feeling and thus led to honest and open conversations.
Assessing our current state of “trust”
We wanted to encourage people to break away from the mindset that creating a safe environment is someone else's job. It starts with the leader, but the leader alone cannot create trust without everyone contributing.
To help each person think about their role in the process, we conducted a Slido poll. We asked our team members to reflect and rate themselves on a scale of one to six for each of Brené Brown's elements of trust: Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Safety, Integrity, Nonjudgmental, Generosity.
We then asked everyone to take another survey, this time to rate where they thought the team as a collective stood on each of these elements.
The results were fascinating and sparked important conversations about where we are as individuals and as a team and where we want to improve.
We also learned that people rated themselves more positively than the team in all aspects. This led to an important conversation about how we all need to pitch better to build trust in the team.
Develop team principles that promote trust - and commit to them
We break the team into groups of three or four to discuss the principles we want the team to adhere to.
Some ideas came naturally from the previous exercise. The rest came from how their dream team would look and act.
We used Slido for each group to submit their ideas through the ideas feature. Then we met and voted on these contributions. With the help of the upvoting function, it became clear which top 5 principles one wanted to commit to.
Day 3: Create alignment through team goals
On our last day, we started talking about business results.
We wanted to make sure we were aligned with our team's goals. So in the morning we did an exercise where we brainstormed ideas for our team's goal.
We used a techniqueRemote control, no remote controlby Gustavo Razzetti on Slido polls for this exercise.
The following areopen text voteQuestions that led us to our team principle:
- What is our task?
- Who do we work for?
- What is our effect?
By crowdsourcing answers to these questions, we were able to create something that reflected all of our ideas.
After the team goals session, we hosted a hackathon where our team members were encouraged to develop projects. By allowing them to take the lead, we were able to build momentum within the team to design and drive projects that align well with their strengths.
where we are today
The offsite results were immediately noticeable. At the end of the three-day offsite, we asked people how they were doing. That's what they told us.
More importantly, a few months later it has made a huge difference in team dynamics, communication and performance. The team has experienced unparalleled collaboration and execution on key projects.
There are still many things to be clarified, but we now have the basis to push ourselves to achieve our goals.
As a leader, I'm really excited about what lies ahead. Without a solid foundation built on psychological security, we could never make it.
You just read the story of the Education and Enablement team, a key player driving Slido's digital initiatives. The team is responsible for delivering educational content at scale to help our users achieve their goals with Slido. Through this blog you're reading right now, we're taking care of everything from help and community to webinars!
How does psychological safety improve team performance in the workplace? ›
Colleagues who feel their work environment is psychologically safe are more willing to engage in interpersonal risk-taking behaviors that contribute to greater organizational innovation — like speaking up, asking questions, sharing unspoken reservations, and respectfully disagreeing.How does psychological safety improve performance? ›
On the other end of the spectrum, organizations fostering teams and departments to have high psychological safety can see greater innovation, low turnover, high engagement, creativity, agility, collaboration, individual accountability, more feedback and a culture where employees speak up.Why psychological safety is essential for your team's success? ›
Psychological safety is essential for team performance, innovation, and employee engagement. When people feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to share their ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback. This leads to better decision-making, faster problem-solving, and higher quality work.What is the value of psychological safety within high performing teams? ›
In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected and can be themselves without fear of negative consequences for their career, self-image or status.What is the link between psychological safety and teamwork? ›
Psychologically safe work environments allow team members to feel that they can safely take calculated risks without fear of repercussions. A lack of psychological safety may deter people from speaking up about mistakes, knowledge gaps, or potential problems.How is psychological safety related to performance standards? ›
Psychological safety and high-performing teams
By having a psychologically safe environment, employees perceive risk as a good thing, and there is an understanding that employees won't be seen as ignorant, incompetent, or invalid. Risk in this context could mean challenging the status quo, pitching a novel idea, etc.
Psychological safety is a condition in which you feel (1) included, (2) safe to learn, (3) safe to contribute, and (4) safe to challenge the status quo—all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized, or punished in some way.What are the benefits of psychological health and safety in the workplace? ›
- Higher job satisfaction and morale.
- Enhanced employee retention and recruitment.
- Organizational commitment.
- Enhanced productivity.
- Strong communication at all levels.
- A positive public and community image.
Psychologically safe teams trust each other to experiment without judgement, voice opinions without being shamed, and fail without being labelled a failure.When creating psychological safety what is the most powerful action a leader can do? ›
Showing vulnerability and humility is one of the quickest ways to create psychological safety. Your team members need to understand that their work is essential and how they contribute to the company's overall goal and strategy.
How do you build trust and safety in a team? ›
- Foster communication. Fostering communication between yourself and your team is a great way to build trust. ...
- Try to be transparent. ...
- Meet with individual team members. ...
- Conduct team-building activities. ...
- Encourage collaboration. ...
- Show your appreciation. ...
- Exhibit leadership qualities.
Well, here are some of the most effective ways you can support employee work-life balance: Offer flexible working arrangements, such as remote work or flextime. Other suggestions would be a compressed workweek or job sharing. Give your employees the option of using their PTO for illness, personal time, or vacations.What are three key factors that contribute to psychologically safe teams? ›
- Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem.
- Acknowledge your own fallibility.
- Model curiosity and ask lots of questions.
The Definition Of A High Performing Team
This highly effective team is innovative in problem-solving and displays a high level of communication and collaboration, delivering consistent and superior results. High-performing teams meet their goals consistently, work cohesively as a group, and are engaged in their work.
When a workplace or the work itself is unsafe, it means that employees may not be well-managed. That could result in less motivated and mindful employees who are unsatisfied and unhappy with their job. Poor safety management can not only put the team members' safety on the line, but also operations and productivity.What are the three benefits of psychological safety? ›
A strong culture of psychological safety enhances employee engagement, fosters an inclusive workplace culture, inspires creativity and ideas, improves employee well-being, creates brand ambassadors, reduces employee turnover, and boosts team performance.How does a lack of psychological safety affect performance? ›
Fail to create a safe, supportive, 'speak up' culture and you'll likely see churn rates soar and productivity deteriorate. Even worse, you'll create an environment where people are afraid to take risks, thereby stifling innovation and demotivating your more talented people.What are the two key elements to psychological safety? ›
- inclusion safety: to feel included, like they belong, safe to be themselves, and accepted.
- learning safety: to feel safe to learn and grow, ask questions, experiment and make mistakes.
Lack of emotional support in the workplace can leave you feeling abandoned and alone: not an environment to offer your best work. Feeling alone in a place where you're meant to feel connected can bring on symptoms of despair and depression.What are the 5 steps to psychological safety? ›
- Establish an open and respectful communication culture.
- Be transparent in order to build trust.
- Set clear expectations.
- Reframe failure and mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth.
- Take a supportive and consultative approach to leadership.
What are the 3 fundamental needs of an effective team? ›
High-performance cultures and teams become enabled when trust, alignment, and effective communication are core operating principles and deeply embedded in the culture. Teams that possess these things don't just perform better.What are the leadership behaviors for psychological safety? ›
- REFRAME MISTAKES.
- ENCOURAGE ALL VOICES.
- APPRECIATE CONTRIBUTIONS.
- COACH TEAM MEMBERS TO HELP AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER.
- They articulate the big picture. As leaders, we tend to jump into the action – it's part of our DNA. ...
- They plan for barriers – and strengths. ...
- They define clear expectations.
- Encourage Open and Honest Communication. Establishing trust begins simply – one conversation at a time. ...
- Learn to Really Listen. ...
- Invest in the Success of Each Team Member. ...
- Address Issues Early.
Trust is essential to an effective team, because it provides a sense of safety. When your team members feel safe with each other, they feel comfortable to open up, take appropriate risks, and expose vulnerabilities.What is psychological safety in workplace? ›
Let's start with a definition. Team psychological safety is a shared belief held by members of a team that it's OK to take risks, to express their ideas and concerns, to speak up with questions, and to admit mistakes — all without fear of negative consequences.What could your workplace do to improve psychological and social support? ›
Encourage respectful workplace communication where mental health issues can be openly discussed in the same way physical health issues would be discussed. Ensure all staff are aware of internal and external benefits and resources to address workplace stress and how to effectively approach conflict.How to performance manage someone with mental health issues? ›
- "Rule out" rule. ...
- Communicate without judgment. ...
- Consider emotional triggers. ...
- Be supportive and clear. ...
- Relate issues to performance rather than personality. ...
- Highlight strengths first. ...
- Separate acknowledging from agreeing. ...
- Build on existing strengths.
Applying and understanding psychology in the workplace makes the working environment feel safer, employees feel understood as well as able to speak up about the way they feel. It encourages them to be better, perform better, and benefit the organization better.How does improving safety in the workplace affect job performance? ›
Safety in the workplace has a significant impact on many business KPIs. In other words, safer working environments benefit from fewer accidents, which results in fewer occupational health costs, better employee retention and satisfaction, less employee downtime, and less retraining time.
How safety can improve productivity? ›
One of the best ways that employers can increase productivity is by creating a safe work environment. Research shows that employees who feel their workplace is safe are more likely to perform better than those who feel unsafe. Safety is improved by removing potential hazards from the workplace.How does safety contribute to employees productivity in the workplace? ›
Safe employees are happier and engaged in their work
With safeguards in place, employees can focus on their work, instead of the dangers and job hazards in their workplace. Keeping a cleaner, more organized space will help reduce safety hazards, and can also improve efficiency.
A psychological assessment helps organisations understand the current health and well-being of its people, teams and leaders. This type of assessment can be used to better understand an employee's experience of work, and to identify the things that positively or negatively influence health and well-being.