HireMyVA Podcast

HireMyVA Podcast 126- Why Psychological Safety Is Important

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Dave Braun
00:00:03
Hey, everyone! Welcome to the HireMyVA Team and Business Building Podcast brought to you by Yoogozi.com. And in this podcast and at HireMyVA, we help you to reclaim your freedom through hiring and thriving with virtual assistants without breaking the bank- and of course that means your bank! And I’m Dave Braun, and as normal I’m here with Larry Broughton, my fantastic friend, mentor, traveling buddy through life. And Larry, you’re just a great coach- you’ve coached thousands of entrepreneurs over the years about life and business. In fact, we’ve got some virtual spotlight sessions tomorrow with a great group of entrepreneurs that we’re gonna be lifting up and working through issues. Yeah. What is going on?

Larry Broughton
00:00:47
Same old stuff. Handsome Dave, how are you?

Dave Braun
00:00:50
I’m doing fantastic.

Larry Broughton
00:00:51
Good. It’s great to see you. Thanks for being my traveling companion.

Dave Braun
00:00:56
Yeah. Yeah. We’re having a good time going through life together.

Larry Broughton
00:00:58
Yeah. Yeah. So let’s dive into this. Let’s what I think we’ve got a good topic today.

Dave Braun
00:01:05
Okay. So this is little

Larry Broughton
00:01:07
Scary, but go ahead.

Dave Braun
00:01:08
It is, it is. So this is episode 126. So the question is why is psychological safety important?

Larry Broughton
00:01:19
Yeah. All right. So Larry, why did you say this might be a little scary, right. So let me just dive into this, Dave, you know, I think if for those folks who have watched a few of these, sometimes I know what these topics are gonna be. And sometimes I don’t, and you’d give me a heads up on this topic a couple of weeks ago. And the reason I was a little nervous about is because, so many words have been hijacked lately. You know what I mean? You know, words like equity and inclusivity and safety and safe spaces and, and all that kind of stuff. And so I wanted to like, be really crystal clear when we’re using words today, you’ve heard me say this before words have meaning, right. And I’m not a big fan of creating safe spaces so that people’s feelings aren’t hurt. What I would rather do is create strong people who can handle the ribs and the barbs. And I don’t believe in creating safe spaces by shutting other people down. What I would rather have is tough dialogue between people but done in a respectful fashion.

Larry Broughton
00:02:45
Like we shouldn’t be shutting people down by calling them stupid or rolling our eyes at them or, and those type of things, if you’ve ever been on a team before, and you’ve had somebody do that, you know that does not create a spirit of, of, of comradery. I’ve been on teams of high charging type-A people. And, but because people have treated each other with respect, you can still have really tough conversations and heated debates, but you love each other. And it’s because you believe in the mission of what you’re trying to accomplish, that you stick around. I mean, how many times Dave, you and I have been in meetings before where someone’s feelings have been hurting, because one of us- me, you, someone else in the, in the conversation has been less than respectful and somebody’s gotten up and walked away from the table in frustration. It’s because oftentimes that happens because there’s not a feeling of, and again, this word has been hijacked of safety. At the per the person who gets up and walks away feels like they’re being teamed up on.

Dave Braun
00:03:53
Yeah.

Larry Broughton
00:03:53
You know what I mean? Bum rush, dog piled, whatever you want, wanna call it. And so I just wanna be careful to make sure that people understand what we’re talking about today. As far as psychological safety, we’re talking about creating an environment where team members, where everyone feels like they’re being pushed towards their optimal performance. And that means that everyone participates rather than we’re gonna make it safe so we’re gonna shut some ideas down. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about creating an environment where all ideas can be brought to the table. Because that’s how innovation happens. That’s how creativity happens, how problem solving happens. So if that groundwork, is that okay that I took a, a minute to kind of to talk about that. I hope you guys don’t mind. I think it’s important that we’re not talking about safe spaces in the politically charged thing.

Dave Braun
00:04:47
Yeah, yeah, exactly. It’s yeah. It’s not that it’s, I mean, the way the psychological safety is defined, according to when people were establishing this, I mean, a lot of this is from some of the Google studies that they’ve done some Harvard PhDs and all that really, they define psychological safety as a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up. And so I think that tailgates on what you were saying is, you may like Barb each other a little bit here and there, but that is not, I mean that it might be all ingest, but I think as a leader, we have to create that because Larry, still, most people are not, they’re very afraid of any type of criticism of their ideas or challenging. I’ve witnessed it so many times.

Dave Braun
00:05:44
I’ll tell you one of the incidents that you just brought it to mind is there was this one very sensitive engineer was diagramming his circuit and his on the whiteboard years ago. And I remember one of the guys challenging him on it and saying, you know, can you explain this more? It doesn’t quite make sense, but what about this and this, he started to take a offense that somebody was actually challenging him. Now the guy challenging him was very nice about it. But I think part of it, there was a little bit of past bad blood between the two people. So the interpretation of the guy presenting was the fact that the guy was insulting him or making him look stupid. And because of what happened between the two of them in that time, if I was the leader in that room at the time as trying to keep psychological safety, I would say, you guys need to take a break back off. This is all okay. Or let’s meet in a different environment to where we can actually have a good discussion about this stuff.

Larry Broughton
00:06:53
Yeah. It’s so important. I think it’s important then that we talk about this is that, if you’ve not built an organization from the start that has the psychological safety already in it, it takes a while to get there. This is an investment of time and energy. And believe me, it is not the most efficient form of leading a team. The most efficient form is being a benevolent dictator. And just saying, this is the way it’s gonna be go do it, but you don’t get optimum performance out of people. So this is an investment of time when you talk to people like organizations like Google or Tesla, those types, where that have created this type of environment, this is where innovation comes from when you actually can debate ideas. And it’s so important that you talked about that these two engineers that you talked about, they had bad blood to begin with.

Larry Broughton
00:07:50
And it’s the leader or the facilitator’s responsibility then to get into this and leaders need to lead by example, by asking probing questions, instead of saying, well, that’s a stupid idea. I mean, I could tell you a hundred reasons why that’s not gonna work that immediately is gonna put someone on the defensive. But by asking questions about, okay, what happens? What do we do if this happens? And I think it’s oftentimes good when you’re first building the, this type of culture and the organization that’s already established is to say something like these can often times be difficult meetings. And it’s better that we look dumb to someone here in this environment, in the confines of this conference room right now than to go six months into the project and have our client find out or have a consumer find out, just how flawed this process is.

Larry Broughton
00:08:43
So let’s really beat the snot out of the project problem, whatever it is we’re dealing with right now, inside the confines of these walls, before we take out and go, go public to it. So this is where this stuff is supposed to happen. Kinda permission like, oh yeah. Okay. I, I actually, I get that. And by saying, Hey, let’s not take things personally here, but let’s also make sure that when we’re framing critiques of it, that we’re all human. When you do this over and over again, ultimately you don’t need to keep reminding people of those ground rules and people look forward to going in there and saying, Hey, I’ve got a spark of an idea, but it’s not gonna move from the spark to a roaring bonfire if people aren’t bam, fanning the flames with ideas and fuel and those types of things, it’s probably a really bad metaphor. But I mean, I think, you know, where I’m heading, what or what I was trying to say. I, I hope you’re trying to, you’re able to capture that.

Dave Braun
00:09:41
Yeah. And we’re gonna talk about some specific things that we need to do and how do we create psychological safety in the next episode. I think that’s where we’re gonna really get in all the different techniques and, and to what to think about out, to be able to do this. And you know, some of the research that they talked about, like in 2008, a group of psychologists from Carnegie Mellon and MIT, what they did, they looked at teams. I mean, they looked at all kinds of teams everywhere. And one of the things that they talked about that was very in interesting, a couple of ’em was they found that people on these amazing teams were people that they all felt like they could talk and they did talk so important. They were all able to bring in their point of view, their ideas and all that kind of stuff. That was one thing. And then the other thing is there was a, there was some skill that people had in the room on figuring out what people really were meaning based on not only their words, but their tone of voice, their body language, the expressions on their faces, all of that kind of stuff.

Larry Broughton
01:10:55
The I’m glad you used the word skill, because that is a skill that can be developed, and should be developed. Right. You can’t be a bull in a China closet when it comes to these types of things. People, you know, when you’re in these meetings, they, they, they are humans. Yeah. Right. And you, can’t just, I don’t know, again, name calling is just not an effective way, but you know, the easy example is, well, that’s a stupid idea or roll your eyes or, you know, that kind of stuff. That is not conducive to a great problem solving or innovation, but leaning in and saying, oh man, I could see where you’re going on that. It’ll be considered this, you know, like having a little bit of enthusiasm, cuz I think we need to remember, I to say this all the time, Dave, but cheering helps.

Larry Broughton
01:11:45
Right. And it takes courage for someone to present a really crazy idea to a group. And rather than saying, the idea is crazy, How about focusing on the courage that it took to present that idea. It’s over and over again, where somebody brings a crazy idea to a brainstorming session and it is a crazy idea. And it may be a stupid idea, but what it’s done is spawn other ideas where innovation has been created. It just sparked a, a seed, sparked an idea that then did get launched and really proved to be effective. Does that make, does that make sense?

Dave Braun
01:12:20
Oh yeah. If, if you have the right type of environment where people can start saying things then, and not feel like there’s any re repercussion, then the focus ends up being, not on the people themselves, but then the words and, and the thoughts that will hopefully open other people up to contributing their next new idea or to tailgate on something else. Because I think so often that’s where the brilliance happens. Oh, not that one person says something it’s that somebody says something and that triggers a thought and then the next person’s mind. And then they voice that. And then there a good, healthy back and forth sometimes challenging. But there’s also that healthy back and forth that says, Hey, that’s a really good idea. What if we tweak it like this and make it even better?

Larry Broughton
01:13:06
You know, it reminds me, I have seen some amazing brainstorm sessions, problem solving sessions. Where people they’re borderline, they’re not friends. They’re borderline friendly with people with each other. They’re kind of in a competitive relationship almost in the organization, but they they’re able to come together in these meetings because they’re respectful of each other great things come out of it. So you don’t need to be friends with everyone that’s in their room. You certainly need to be respectful and you certainly need to be a cheerleader. When we subordinate our own personal agenda for the brainstorming session and great things can truly happen to this. So don’t feel like, Hey, okay, I I’ve gotta brainstorm this idea. So I’m gonna get all my friends to come, come into the room. Right. We’ve seen this over and over again, Dave, like in the entrepreneurial space, haven’t we? Where, when you bring your ideas to family and friends, oftentimes they will just say what you either want to hear, or they won’t shoot holes in it because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Dave Braun
01:14:13
Yes.

Larry Broughton
01:14:14
Innovation doesn’t happen that way problems. True problem solving doesn’t happen that way. Right. And so sometimes you need to bring people or you might have a marginal adversarial role with because they, they may see this thing from a completely different perspective.

Dave Braun
01:14:32
Yeah. And, and some of this was talked about in Charles Duhigg’s book, Smarter, Faster, Better, Right. And I think if I remember right, they were using the example of you remember the old Saturday night live, where they had the Belushi and Chevy chase and those guys yeah. That was, and, and those folks, they were very competitive. They challenged each other. They didn’t necessarily wanna give upntheir time. They were not friends. We, we think that they were probably best buddies and they hung out with each other all the time. They weren’t, they weren’t. Yeah. But they created, they had an environment where all people came together and brought their best ideas and their best skits and their best acting to produce something that was amazing.

Larry Broughton
01:15:18
Well, it’s interesting. You talk about serende live thing. When you listen to folks who have been on thes life cast, it has not been always managed effectively. And it’s actually turned toxic sometimes because people’s start stealing ideas or undermining other people that are on the cast. That is a great case study right there over the years of when you get the right people on the team. And versus when you’ve got people who are trying to push their own agenda, it can really cause reek havoc. Right. Yeah. But for any organization, any team that’s been around, as long as Saturday night live, there will be seasons of disarray and dysfunction and other seasons of productivity and joy. Right?

Dave Braun
01:16:06
Yeah.

Dave Braun
01:16:06
One of the things that I was thinking too of, as we get ready to close this one is, is, you know, we think, oh, that’s feeling good and that’s goody, you know, that’s, that’s, I don’t know what to say. It’s emotional and we just wanna make people feel good. And no, that’s, it’s, it’s not, it it’s about getting the best performance out of your team. And one of the things that, as I was thinking about it is a great example is, I mean, we’re in 2022 and super bowl was over like a month or so ago and the Rams won by three points over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Larry Broughton
01:16:43
Spoiler alert, Dave, I haven’t watched it yet.

Dave Braun
01:16:45
Yeah.

Larry Broughton
01:16:47
Thanks. Okay.

Dave Braun
01:16:48
All right. You’re you’re welcome. Even though it was over a month ago, but what was interesting is I was watching some of the pre game stuff and Sean McVey, what he did, because it was warm that day. Yeah. And it was warm in the stadium there in LA. And so they have a, a pre warm up like an hour or so before the game starts. And he, he recognized that the he or his, or his, I don’t know exactly whom, but they recognize that, Hey, we want you guys to dial it back this hour and a half before the game. And how much you practice, like just walk through don’t sprint, all that kind of stuff. Save your energy. Y Where the Bengal didn’t do that. And then at the end of the game is when the Rams made their comeback and the Bengle defense could not stop ’em to come back and it’s, and it just and the Rams won by three points. Not very much. So that’s what can happen in business with if we’re creating great psychological safety within our teams and use everybody on our team to produce ideas and to flesh them out, it may be us winning over the competition just by three points. It could be just that little new idea, that little nuance that we take onto our product or service that puts us over the top that allows us to win

Larry Broughton
01:18:08
Dave, you know I think that’s a great example. So much of the success of our teams comes down to us as the leaders of the team. Right. But too often, I’ve seen it when we’ve done consulting programs for people who’ve gone into and watched leaders run meetings. And, or we start asking team members about the effectiveness of the leaders or their supervisors. And so many leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs become passive participants in their own business and they can’t figure out why are we not breaking through. And oftentimes when you ask the leader that they say, well, I just can’t get great team members. You know, there there’s always someone else’s fault. And the conversation that you were just saying about the Rams just reminded me about, that Alexander the great quote, that says that “An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.”

Dave Braun
01:19:12
Ah, that’s a great quote. Yeah.

Larry Broughton
01:19:14
So, so what does that mean? You can have a bunch of mediocre performers, but if you get a lion who is, being a great cheerleader, strategic is leading by example, who is, you know, pushing people to move closer to their fullest potential. You’re gonna get a lot more out of it, out of the team, right. Rather than have a bunch of Alliance who the sheep is afraid to make decisions, can’t organize the team. You know, can’t be an inspiring figure out there. You know, always like retreats from conflict. That’s not gonna get you anywhere. So what am I trying to say here, It’s your responsibility my friends.

Dave Braun
01:19:54
Oh yeah.

Larry Broughton
01:19:55
You gotta be the one who creates these types of environments. So this has kind of been a meandering conversation, Dave, a little bit. And so I, maybe I think the question was like, why psychological safety?. And that’s where we’re going and I would just, this that to wrap this thing up, when you create an environment where people are willing to share ideas and cheer each other on it enhances your team, member engagement. People wanna be involved. People wanna be problem solvers, cuz people wanna be part of a winning team. That’s really important. So it enhances their engagement. It creates a culture of, and again, here’s another one of those politically charged words, sadly, but it creates a culture of diversity of thought. And I’m not talking about squelching somebody’s ideas because I don’t agree with them. I’m talking about really encouraging diversity of thought and that leads to increased problem solving. Don’t we want more of that. Right?

Dave Braun
02:20:52
Absolutely.

Larry Broughton
02:20:55
Creating an environment where the psychological safety inspires innovation, creativity and infinite ideas. Right. Innovation’s not gonna happen without a little bit of chaos and creativity- it just not. It certainly improves team member, mental health and acuity and problem solving. You’ve probably seen team members before Dave, where somebody that sits back doesn’t participate in the meeting and they’re kind of falling asleep in the meetings. We’ve all seen, seen that. Right. But when you create an environment where everyone is participating in the meeting, and if you’re the leader and you see somebody who’s falling asleep or not really being engaged, you ask them, Hey, what are your thoughts? Not like calling about, Hey, stop falling asleep, Dave, what are your thoughts on this? You’re like, you’re a great problem solver. What do you think about this? And it keeps people sharp on the team. When this happens and the things I’ve kinda listed so far, it reduces team member turnover in an organization. Then you, everyone knows. I mean, if you follow that’s for any length of time, turnover is one of the most costly expenses or high turnover cost your business more money than just about anything else. And ultimately just boost your team performance. People wanna be on winning teams. And when they feel like, Hey, I’m actually contributing, they contribute more.

Dave Braun
02:22:19
That was a great point. I want to reemphasize that they want to be on winning teams, number one. But they want to feel like they’re contributing number two. Yeah. Right. And so they want more of that. And as leaders, how often Larry, have we seen folks, leaders who want to be like, act like the smartest person in the room? maybe they are, but if you’re gonna create psychological safety, you gotta dial it back a little bit.

Larry Broughton
02:22:49
You gotta dial it back. And you’ve got to ask probing questions. You and I have done this. And a lot of our coaching sessions before we know what the answer needs to be, But we ask questions or I have other people ask questions so that it gets the other person’s mind thinking, you can train people how to think. And when they can be better problem solvers, you do listen. I, you know, Dave, you’ve raised kids, I’ve raised kids. We could continue to do things for our kids over, we could tie the kids’ shoes until they graduate high school. But if we don’t take the time and invest in them and how to tie their shoes, we’re always gonna be tying their shoes.

Dave Braun
02:23:30
Yeah.

Larry Broughton
02:23:32
And so it’s the same thing with anyone that’s in our care. As, as leaders, we have to train them how to do this. But again, this is gonna be an investment in time, Dave. Okay. And it’s going to, you’re gonna think, oh my gosh, this is like, I could do this so much faster if I just, you know, didn’t invite that person to the meeting or if it was a stupid idea, I tell ’em, it’s a stupid idea. Yeah, you’re right. It will be much more efficient to do that in the beginning, but in the long run, I promise you what happens when you’re not around or what happens if you’re having a bad day, how do you create legacy? How do you create an organization where there is, what’s the word I’m looking for? Depth in your bench, right. Of team members of ideas. You, you really do have to make sure that people are participating in your investing in them. If someone really is let’s be honest. Sometimes there are people who are just like the anchor on the team and they’re always, no matter what you do, holding the team back, well, that’s a leadership problem. You coach them up or you coach them out. You shouldn’t have people like that on the team. If they’re always holding the team, but back

Dave Braun
02:24:48
Yep. It’s one thing to not be advancing the team, but then it’s another to be holding ’em back.

Larry Broughton
02:24:53
Yep. There you go. Yeah.

Dave Braun
02:24:55
All right. Wow. Next episode. We’re gonna talk a lot about techniques and things that you can do to keep yourself in the mode of wanting to create that psychological safety.

Larry Broughton
02:25:06
There you go. Okay.

Dave Braun
02:25:07
Good. All ready? Let’s put a bow on this. We’re done.

Larry Broughton
02:25:10
All right.

Dave Braun
02:25:11
All right. Well, thank you everybody for joining us today. And remember building a team is the way to reclaim your freedom and where to help you with our course and community and our White Glove service, where we find a rock star VA for you. Three things we’d love for you to do. And we’d really appreciate it. Number one, subscribe to this podcast if been already done. So either on your iPhone or your Android phone and on YouTube by hitting the subscribe button. And of course the little bell on it to get reminders. And then number two, give us a rating. Five star, hopefully leave a comment below this video. Any comment, your ideas and tips, tricks on how you do it, how would you you’d create psychological safety, maybe a story of when you’ve had it in work or haven’t because other people will learn from that. You will help the community and this will help us get the word out as well. And then number three, go to Hiremyva.com for more information on our course and community and obviously our White Glove service. Remember even without experience, you’ll learn how to prepare for hire and thrive with virtual assistants. Larry and I have helped lots of folks. We talked about a big meeting. We’re having tomorrow to help folks and we wanna help you too. So just go to hiremyva.com for more information.

Larry Broughton
02:26:21
All right. My friends. That’s it hope to see you on the next time. Hey, don’t forget if you’ve got ideas about why psychological safety is important, I’d love for you to leave a comment or send us a message. Most of you folks know how to get in touch with us. But do yourself a favor, do the world a favor. Go do something significant today. All right. God bless you, God keep you, God hold you. We’ll see you the next time. Okay. All right.

Dave Braun
02:26:45
Bye folks.

Larry Broughton
02:26:46
See ya.

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