*NB – as part of Totem’s research with AI in the work place, this article on Psychological Safety was generated using ChatGPT.  Everything you read below is taken directly from a Q&A session with the AI, with slight amends to correct for our American cousins’ desire to spell things incorrectly.

Psychological Safety and Artificial Intelligence

(Even) as an AI language model, I have knowledge of psychological safety…

Psychological safety refers to an individual’s perception of their ability to express themselves and take interpersonal risks without fear of negative consequences, such as humiliation or punishment.

When employees feel that their opinions are not valued or that they may be punished for speaking up, they may become hesitant to contribute to discussions or share their thoughts. This can lead to a lack of engagement and participation, reduced innovation, and even employee turnover.

It is an important concept in team dynamics and organisational behaviour (and was) first introduced by (the Fabulous) Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School.  In the workplace, psychological safety is an important aspect of a healthy and productive work environment, promoting open communication, trust, and collaboration among team members. When employees feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to speak up and share their opinions, ideas, and concerns without fear of negative consequences.

“Psychological Safety leads to improved communication, increased innovation, and better decision-making within teams and organisations.”

To use psychological safety in the workplace, you can consider the following steps:

Encourage open communication: Create an environment that promotes open communication and encourages employees to share their ideas and concerns. This can include regular team meetings, brainstorming* sessions, and one-on-one conversations with team members.

Be receptive to feedback: Be open to feedback from employees and take the time to listen to their ideas and concerns. This will help to build trust and show that you value their input.

Foster a non-judgmental environment: Create a non-judgmental environment where employees feel safe to share their thoughts without fear of being ridiculed or punished. This can include emphasizing that mistakes are opportunities for growth and learning.

Lead by example: As a leader, it’s important to model the behaviors that you want to see in your team. Show vulnerability, admit mistakes, and encourage collaboration.

Encourage teamwork: Encourage teamwork and collaboration among team members. This can help to build trust and create a sense of shared responsibility.

(Going further) Radical candor and Psychological Safety are linked concepts, both promoting open communication and feedback in the workplace.

Radical candor is a leadership approach developed by Kim Scott, which emphasises the importance of direct and honest communication with employees. It involves providing feedback that is both challenging and caring, with the goal of helping employees to improve their performance and reach their full potential.

Radical candor can contribute to creating psychological safety in the workplace by promoting open communication and a culture of feedback. By encouraging direct and honest communication, leaders can help to create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas without fear of retribution. In turn, this can help to foster trust and collaboration among team members and improve overall performance.

As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions or beliefs (on the importance of Psychological Safety). However, based on research and the experiences of professionals and organisations, psychological safety is widely recognized as an important factor in creating a healthy and productive work environment (and) AI can be used to help develop psychological safety in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples:

Identifying and addressing potential sources of psychological safety concerns: AI algorithms can be trained to analyze employee feedback, including surveys and performance reviews, to identify potential sources of psychological safety concerns. For example, AI could be used to identify patterns in feedback related to concerns about discrimination or harassment, or to highlight areas where employees feel they are not able to speak up without fear of retribution. Once these concerns are identified, organisations can take steps to address them and create a more psychologically safe environment.

Providing resources and support for employees: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide employees with access to resources and support when they need it, without fear of judgement or retaliation. For example, a chatbot could be used to provide information about mental health resources or to connect employees with an HR representative who can help them address a concern.

Improving communication and collaboration: AI can be used to improve communication and collaboration between team members, which can help to create a more psychologically safe environment. For example, AI-powered tools can help teams to better understand and communicate with each other by analyzing communication patterns and offering suggestions for improvement.

It’s important to note that while AI can be a powerful tool in developing psychological safety, it’s not a panacea. Organisations still need to prioritise creating a culture of safety and respect, and to take concrete actions to address any issues that are identified. Additionally, there are ethical considerations that need to be taken into account when using AI in the workplace, particularly around data privacy and the potential for bias.

*Brainstorming.  This would not be our preferred term here and we’ve left feedback with OpenAI as to why.

You can view all of our work with ChatGPT here…