A growth mindset is defined as a set of beliefs and attitudes that encourage people to seek out challenges and find the lesson to learn within each failed attempt.  Leveraging a growth mindset is critical for setting the foundation of Psychological Safety, especially during a global pandemic. 

As organizations continue to navigate changes in their business, operating models, and the needs of their teams, a growth mindset will help them move from fear which can lead to catabolic (or negative thoughts) and onto more supportive views.  Growth mindsets help to shift you from a survival mode and into a mode where you see potential, opportunities and new ways of achieving goals.

Whatever the scenario your team currently finds itself in, we are all adapting to changes in the workplace, and inevitably people will experience setbacks.  Seeking out and looking for the opportunities and the learning in every challenge, or mistake, will help set the foundation for Psychological Safety.

Where to begin:

1. Consider your mindset and learn to reframe to find the opportunity. 

This could be the lesson to learn, or the under-lying good fortune that came about.  Each ‘opportunity’ is a chance for someone to grow, or evolve, into something new. Keep in mind that words have meaning.  One person’s view of good fortune may first feel like doom for someone else.  To help keep your team focused on finding the opportunity, listen for the excuses people make to cover over something that did not work out, or when they dimmish what they accomplished because it did not look like they said it would. Learn how to reframe to help your team see the opportunities.

2. Build and nurture an environment of psychological safety. 

Psychological safety is one of the tenets of a high performing team because it means trust is being built. For this reason, if team members do not feel safe, they will not want to take risks or challenge themselves through fear of making mistakes or perhaps looking bad. Work on identifying organizational agreements that the team can align to and you can coach them on, or give feedback to. Secondly, do some exercises to build vulnerability based trust throughout the team.

Creating psychological safety is about providing your team with the knowledge that mistakes are learning opportunities and will not be punished. As a leader, it is important to role model this attitude with consistency, so that trust can be built, and a growth mindset embraced. Share a mistake you made and learned from next time your team encounters failure. Be authentic.

3. Be curious about the process, or approach taken each time you encounter a mistake.

Discussing mistakes rather than pointing fingers, or placing blame, enhances Psychological Safety.  Lean in and show your team how to approach their mistakes with curiosity.  Explore what worked well, or not, in the approach and what skills, or knowledge, if available, would have helped them succeed.  Always be sure to share so that your team can learn for the future.

Plan to set aside 15 minutes in your team meeting each week to discuss the failures your team may have encountered, what they did to overcome the challenge and what they learned that week.  Ask that each team member to remain open and supportive during the share and that no judgement or criticism show up.  It takes courage to socialize things that do not work out. 

4. Encourage team members to reach out and ask colleagues for help, to partner and collaborate on initiatives. Move away from the view where “one person wins” and rather reframe towards the view of ‘the team wins.’ Focus on learning as a team, not looking at individual successes.  This helps to foster collaboration, leading to Psychological Safety.  When approaching your next team project, encourage your team to take on the attitude of ‘What is Possible’ or ‘What can we create or achieve’ together?  To help them adopt this mindset, make sure that the emphasis is on the team achieving the goal rather than on certain individuals.

Try the above and do so in baby steps.   Be open to your team sharing challenges.  Do not rush it.  It may take time for them to share their personal or professional mistakes.  It takes time to build trust and longer to have a deep sense of safety.  It will come, just stay focused and walk the walk, your team will be eager to join in.

A baby step may be sharing something about yourself.  This sets the tone.  Be sure to welcome others to share as well if they wish.   Do pay attention to never disclose something someone told you.  It is not your story, or learning, to share.  Honoring everyone’s privacy helps create the sense of safety within the team.  Securing this sense here; helps to spread trust across departments and eventually the organization.  As a team leader, you need to be vigilant and push back when you notice employees use words or phrases that may be interpreted in a way that was not intended.  As words carry meaning, and often different meanings for everyone, do not fret if there are bumps on the process.  Psychological Safety comes from removing fear, people showing-up authenticity, building trust and embracing learning!

To learn how to create this in your organization, contact us at www.transformativevisions.com