I am risk adverse by nature, especially when it comes to potential physical harm. It doesn't matter what activity it is, I am strong at refusing to take part in it if I believe there is a chance I may injure myself. This has meant refusing to take part in team building activities on occasions.
We all have different personal risk profiles to perceived threats. We see this clearly in our personal and professional lives with Covid. Creating psychological safety during a pandemic is as much about the individual as the whole. Therefore, how we approach conversations in the workplace is just as important as understanding the rules.
Are we equipping our people leaders and employees to have these conversations? In many cases the cascade of communications is focused on the required updates and instructions. In a time of remote working and digital interpersonal communication, providing the skills to have discussions on personal psychological safety boundaries is missing. This will cause tensions in the workplace as more people return to the office.
Training on how to have these conversations in a respectful and constructive way would enhance productivity by reducing anxiety. Helping work colleagues to communicate effectively on a sensitive topic empowers teams and helps leaders.
There is a lot of pressure on leaders to encourage their teams to return the office. Many of them know they will be receiving push back. They need communications support beyond a directive or target to achieve collaboration.
Suggestions on how this could be achieved are:
Survey your team to understand their Covid personal risk profiles (anonymous) and share results
Develop a guidance list on Covid psychological safety considerations for people leaders to explore with their teams
Leader communications training on how to have team sessions/conversations about employee Covid psychological safety
Employee training on how to approach conversations with colleagues to set personal safety boundaries when it comes to covid
Culture belongs to everyone. Covid has shown how acting with a collective conscious can help those more vulnerable. It would be a shame for leaders who have shown great empathy to feel compromised in supporting their teams to return to work.
What are your thoughts and suggestions on leadership and employee conservations about Covid psychological safety?