Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO/Be nice

Marjorie Spitz Rento1 Comment

It’s a particularly crazy time of year. With the election, holidays and end-of-year scrambling right around the corner, it’s a good time to get centered on the basics.

  • Breathe
  • Hydrate
  • Move
  • Surround yourself with a supportive circle
  • Be kind to yourself, and others

Simple enough, but not always easy to execute. 

I was reading an article that explores the concept of psychological safety and its impact on success. 

In my work at Balance Integration, one of the top priorities is to create programming for our clients that builds over time and allows participants to feel safe. It’s one of the most interesting challenges we face. We can create the most compelling and creative programming on the planet, but if the boss gives the evil eye as the employee leaves his or her desk to participate, it ain’t gonna work.

Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson explored the concept of psych safety in a 1999 study, which concluded that psychological safety (the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes) boosted performance on teams (she gave a Ted talk about it).

She states, “Every time we withhold, we rob ourselves and our colleagues of small moments of learning and we don’t innovate…(we are) so busy (unconsciously for the most part) managing impressions that we don’t contribute to creating a better organization.”

All organizations want to build strong, productive and winning teams. But how?

Google initiated a project known as “Project Aristotle” to find out. After years of research including interviews with hundreds of employees and data analysis on over 100 teams they found “the best teams respect one another’s emotions and are mindful that all members should contribute to the conversation equally. It has less to do with who is in a team, and more with how a team’s members interact with one another.”

In the end, it was about being nice to each other. 

Professor Edmondson recommends three steps to to build psychological safety:

  1. Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem -- have everyone’s brain and voice in the game
  2. Acknowledge your own fallibility, allowing others to feel safe to interject
  3. Model curiosity by asking lots of questions.

In life, whether at work or at home, the result is rich when fostering an environment of open communication where one can say anything to another, without judgment.

As we tackle the challenges to come, take a moment to breath. Be empathetic and kind to those around you, and approach tasks with a listening ear. 

Consider that by nurturing a culture of psych safety, you and those around you are encouraged to be the best they can be. Simply, be nice and what flourishes may surprise you in the greatest way.

Kindfully yours,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™