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Psychological Safety

How Feedback Culture Creates And Sustains Psychological Safety In The Workplace?

By Drashti Wani Feb 3, 2021

If you are a working professional, you may carefully want to consider the following questions before we dig into the details:


How does your workplace treat you?


Can you be candid at your workplace with colleagues and seniors?


Does your office provide you with an enabling environment to grow and learn from mistakes?


How often can you speak your mind while working? 


We understand that these questions do not have a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ replies, but instead vary vastly owing to subjective experiences. 


Most of the time, we are so engrossed in the work we do, that we fail to think and act upon important questions such as those stated above. The work environment and ambience are just as important as the work itself, and by your work surrounding, we do not only mean the physical apparatus in which you work but also the psychological framework you experience at your job. 


The concepts of psychological safety at the workplace and the existence of a robust feedback mechanism are not only underrated but also, are often given a backseat when it comes to building a promising company culture. The convention points to the role played by the HR department in addressing the issues and concerns of employees at the workplace. However, the changing nature of jobs and growing individualistic approaches, have now shifted this responsibility to everyone, the employees and the employers included. 


The concept of psychological safety was created and developed by Amy Edmondson,  Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School. She defines it as, “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” 


In other words, a psychologically safe place is one where the workers do not feel any kind of fear or reservations to speak up their mind. It creates a safe space for everyone to put forth their views, opinions, suggestions, observations and recommendations, when and where they feel necessary, without having to remain silent due to fear of being judged, misunderstood, retaliated or humiliated upon. Amy says, “Psychological safety isn’t about being nice. It’s about giving candid feedback, openly admitting mistakes, and learning from each other.”


On a parallel note, a feedback culture at the workplace allows the exchange of honest reviews and feedback among employees, across hierarchies and irrespective of the position one may hold on the organisational chart. Such a culture empowers its people to openly and candidly share his/her feedback to others and at the same time, receive the same from others. 


Exchange of feedback is a two-way exercise and if practised rightly and consistently, can bring tremendous positive changes to the company’s output, monetarily and otherwise.


When you make a review exercise your new normal, you are hitting at two targets with one arrow. On one hand, you develop a robust feedback culture that enhances your employee engagement exponentially and on other hand, you simultaneously create a safe environment for everyone to speak up and have their voice heard. 


Constant exchange of feedback:

1. Erases the stiffness in interpersonal communication among workers. 

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2. Nurtures positivity

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3. Creates an honest and transparent atmosphere

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4. Overtime, it makes you comfortable in both giving and receiving end of difficult conversations.  

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5. Enables you to speak your mind swiftly, with ease. 

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If feedback culture is embedded firmly, it sets up the stage for growing and sustaining psychological safety. The former acts as a strong base to a highly dynamic workplace setting. The normalisation of speaking up, not only makes work a happy experience but also something to look forward to. 


It should be noted here that ‘psychological safety’ in itself is a broader concept and includes other aspects such as business risk, the health of employees, customers, and likewise. A feedback culture is one of the important means to realise psychological safety. 


Employee Outlook provides an enabling platform for working professionals to pen down their feedback on a regular basis. Our idea at EO is to normalise feedback culture and push for its growth, ultimately, aiding your efforts to ensure a psychologically safe environment at work. 


Drashti Wani

Content Chief at Employee Outlook