Project Aristotle is a recent Google study that was undertaken to understand why certain teams in their workplace thrived while others seemed to struggle. After studying hundreds of Google’s teams and analyzing years of data, the researchers behind Project Aristotle discovered that “psychological safety” is the secret to building and maintaining successful teams.
Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Business School professor, describes psychological safety in her definitive 1999 study as “a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.”
The Google study solidifies what we already know: that people need a sense of security to do well at work. Honesty, transparency, and an overall atmosphere of mutual respect are imperative when building a psychological safety net for your team.
But first, you must earn — and keep — their trust.
Building trust will allow you to develop meaningful relationships and cultivate an unspoken mutual understanding; your team can count on you to do what you say and say what you mean. In turn, they will do the same for you. This sense of security, precipitated by you, means that your employees’ self-esteem is upheld. A safe haven of trust allows them to speak freely and think more creatively, without feeling rejected or embarrassed.
You have the ability to make a significant impact if you engender the trust of your employees. Make it a priority to inject some positivity into each workday. Be aware that your words have the power to sway the opinions and actions of others. If you treat your team members with respect and understanding, interpersonal trust and a sense of security will follow.
Here are some phrases that will instill trust and confidence within your team.
1. “What can I do to help?”
When you are truly committed to helping others, it creates a ripple effect. Your team will have more passion to work with you and for you if they believe you have their back. Simply saying, “I know that this project is important to you. How can I help?” can move mountains. Be sure to follow through on your promise to assist.
2. “I trust your decision.”
If your employees feel you trust them to do the right thing, it will boost morale and productivity. Remember, to be trusted, first you must trust.
3. “What can I do differently?”
Serve those you’re leading, not the other way around. Let people know that their opinions count. Part of your job as a leader is to remove the barriers to success by observing what might be standing in the way of your employees achieving their goals. Determine how you can facilitate their progress without eliminating accountability.
4. “What do you think is our best course of action?”
Ask questions versus handing out orders. Considerable insight can be gleaned by asking for someone’s opinion. This approach will win the hearts of your team members, as you’ll be viewed as a leader who values the perspectives of others and cares enough to ask for feedback.
Have faith in the process. Trust the people you lead. Say “thank you” more often, admit when you are wrong, and be open to new ideas. When you strive to develop more meaningful relationships with your associates, you’ll experience a deeper and more fruitful form of success — one that cannot be measured by profit.