Psychological Safety in Teams

By Kirthiga Gajendra-Dhresh and Christina Velvin

4 August 2018 12:20

Psychological Safety in Teams

Teamwork has in recent years become a major part of most individuals' workday. Even though teamwork gives several benefits and often leads to better results, as many as 50% fails to develop effective teams.

Previous research has shown that psychological safety and the start-up phase appears to be important for developing effective teams. Our thesis explores how the start-up phase in teams are important for establishing and developing psychological safety.

We conducted a qualitative case and process study, where a newly established leader-led team was followed over a period of three months. The study provides good indications that the start-up phase in the form of a clear taskwork-plan and teamwork-plan can contribute to the establishment of a common experience of psychological safety and ensure positive team processes. The design of such plans should be done jointly by the team so that members feel included. By discussing and reaching an agreement, one can create an arena where members feel they can share their thoughts and opinions (i.e., psychological safety), which leads to increased learning in the team. This ensures that all team members have a common understanding and perceptions of what the team will achieve and how they will work together, and potentially leads to better performance and a more effective team.

Cibivici: Kirthiga Gajendra-Dhresh and Christina Velvin