Measuring Psychological safety

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Professor Amy Edmondson has in her book “The Fearless Organisation” a part about how to measure Psychological Safety. I have used her questions in five different organisations as part of my Psychological Safety workshops as surveys. You will find them in the exercise section later in this book. When a team performs the survey, it is posted anonymously to my Google account, where I have created a formula. The result is exported by me in an excel file to the team members with their scores and the average from the other organisations. With this output we always have great discussions on how to improve ourselves. Once every three months we execute the survey again, which takes only five minutes, compared to the first one which takes one hour.

Sometimes you can see patterns, like a person having a totally different opinion in the next round of the survey. Let’s say that all the team thinks it is safe to take a risk in our team, but one of the respondents has a different opinion. To discuss this topic, in order to reach consensus, will expose the person with a different opinion. That would be a risk for future surveys, as it might feel safer to choose OK to avoid sticking out. Here I recommend skipping the discussions about differences until you have tried Psychological Safety for a while and have the basics in place. There is also a survey available in Amy´s book with more questions, especially on the learning aspect of Psychological Safety, which I have not tried though.[1]

One company I worked for did not want Psychological Safety questions in their monthly survey, but I managed to squeeze in a hidden Psychological Safety question. It was in the shape of a statement: “I feel that I can speak up in my team, and when I fail it is not held against me.” A fair compromise which gave a very good response, forming the base for interesting discussions.

This is a part of the book Psychological UNsafety from the trenches you can order or read more about here.

[1]Psychological Safety – Climate survey: Safety