When team members feel safe to take risks and to exhibit vulnerability, team
performance improves. When that safety is absent, team members hold back ideas
and team performance is impeded. Leaders can increase team effectiveness by
creating a psychologically safe work environment.
If you lead a software team, you need to understand how to produce
When team members feel safe, they are much more likely:
- to ask for help,
- to admit a mistake, or
- to adopt new responsibilities knowing that their team will support them.
The net result is a team that learns faster. By learning, the team becomes more
Google’s internal research into team effectiveness lists psychological safety
in 1st position on a 5-item list
of factors affecting team performance
(The results are described in a New York Times article.)
This research is especially compelling for software team leaders, as it deals
not merely with knowledge workers generally, but with software teams
specifically. Google’s novel research is also compelling by its data-driven
Google maintains a website with guides on team effectiveness.
The site says “of the five key dynamics of effective teams that the researchers
identified, psychological safety was by far the most
Entire books have been written on the subject of psychological safety; I agree
with this choice of the best 3.