Make Your IT Team Advocates with Psychological Safety

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As a corporate IT leader, you know that technology is a key driver of your company’s success. But while technology is a key tool, you also need to think about the human side of corporate IT: the psychological and emotional climate that affects your IT team’s performance and wellbeing. 

One of the most important things is psychological safety: the feeling that your IT team can speak up, share ideas, ask questions, and make mistakes without fear of being punished or rejected. Psychological safety is absolutely critical for high-performing teams, especially in complex and uncertain situations (and what IT situations aren’t both of those?). Research shows that an environment in which team members feel empowered to voice their thoughts leads to higher levels of innovation, learning, engagement, and satisfaction – and those environments may be much less common than one would expect. 

  • According to a McKinsey Global Survey conducted during the pandemic, only 43 percent of all respondents report a positive climate within their team. 
  • A Gallup report found that if organizations increase psychological safety, it makes employees more engaged in their work and can lead to a 12% increase in productivity. 

But that’s not all – you will also make your IT team advocates for your company and enhance your overall company culture. When your IT team feels safe, they’ll be more likely to speak positively about your company, recommend it to others, and stay with the organization. In short, they will transform from employees to ambassadors. 

But how do you create a safe, high-performing environment for your IT team? It’s not something you can buy or install. It’s something you have to build and maintain through your leadership and actions. A few ways to help: 

Consult Team Members 

Involve your team members in your decisions when it makes sense. As a business leader, there will be moments when you have to make a call that may not resonate with everyone, such as investing in a specific platform that will update company security, but may require additional training to be used effectively. However, these issues should be the exception rather than the rule.  

When it comes to managing workloads, developing a consistent culture in your team, or finding ways of giving feedback, ask for your employees’ opinions, feedback, and suggestions. When they share feedback that may be critical of existing institutions, seeking to understand how a recommendation could be enacted and then taking action on the recommendation. Show them that you value their input and perspective by taking their recommendations seriously and they’ll be far more likely to feel comfortable coming to you with further recommendations. 

Support The Team 

When developing psychological safety on a team, it’s important that you take an interest in their personal and professional growth, whatever that may look like. If they’re showing an interest in developing a skill outside their daily tasks, then invest in the training, resources, and opportunities they need to develop and hone that skill. 

Offering recognition of team members’ successes is a common bit of advice for managers, but there’s also a need to give permission for employees to fail too. No one will be willing to take risks or go outside their comfort zone if they feel they can’t come to their manager with an honest assessment of their project status or are struggling to cope with stress and uncertainty. 

Encourage Innovation  

While it’s important that team members follow prescribed procedures, challenge them to try new things and experiment with new solutions. Allow them to take risks and learn from failure – reward the experimentation and effort. Celebrate their successes and discoveries. 

These are just a few ideas to help create a positive climate that fosters psychological safety for your IT team. This will not only boost their performance and productivity, but also their morale and motivation. The human side of corporate IT is not a nice-to-have; it’s a requirement for your IT team’s success. 

If you’re looking for additional guidance on where to start, visit our Contact Us page to have an expert reach out to you.