• Herb Cohen

How to Create an Emotionally Safe Workplace

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

Do you want your employees to care about and take ownership of their results? Do you want these results to be driven by commitment instead of compliance? If so, it is the responsibility of the boss to create a work environment where employees feel safe.


Diane Dike, the former manager of Entertainment Operations at Disney summed it up. “Every move leaders make, every decision, every glance, every word is scrutinized, dissected, torn apart, and reconstituted in the breakroom. Inconsistent behavior, from good to bad and back, is possibly the worst condition of all.”


When people feel safe, special and cared about, their performance soars. These psychological conditions are necessary for feedback, open dialogue, challenging the status quo and sharing ideas. They stimulate innovation and creativity in ways people could not have imagined.


The following are 5 ways to promote emotional safety at work:


1. Create Rules Of Engagement

Create and define the rules of engagement to clarify the expected behaviors of each team member. Then honor the rules throughout the organization regardless of title. Encourage open dialogue in an attempt to resolve issues.


2. Promote Transparent Behaviors

Transparency is key to trust and employee happiness. It promotes a sense of fairness. For example, if an employee didn’t receive the promotion they expected and understood the reasons why, they are more likely to accept the outcome.

It also promotes a sense of certainty. People want to know what is happening and what they can expect in the future.


3. Promote Empathy

Understanding what takes place within a team can reduce conflict and foster good will. Sometimes not speaking up at a meeting can be interpreted as a lack of commitment. But the truth is that can actually be the result of a personal or family issue. We all experience this from time to time. A great way to promote empathy is to implement check-ins at the beginning of a meeting. This simple addition allows teammates to know what is going on in each other’s lives and fosters compassionate understanding of their colleagues.


4. Encourage Different Opinions

Varying perspectives and different opinions are the fuel that moves teams forward.

When expressing one’s point of view is encouraged and respected at work, trust and openness follow.


5. Promoting Collaboration

Although it is known that collaboration is key for teams to succeed, employees can sometimes work alone. When this happens all planning and implementation is done in isolation. The consequence is mistrust which doesn’t allow for the sharing of ideas, differing perspectives and a sense of well being.


Spend time thinking about what your workplace experience would be like if you felt emotionally safe.


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