• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Is your Company like Sparta?

Is your Company like Sparta?

In the 2006 movie, 300, a shocking scene ensued when a messenger from Persia delivered an undesirable message to the King of Sparta, Leonidas. Rather than express his displeasure or convey his own message to the god-King, Xerxes, he killed the messenger! A taboo, because messengers (employees) are meant to be given a haven to express themselves, without being kicked into the well.

Psychological Safety is the belief that you will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with your ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. It doesn’t mean your ideas will always be applauded. It is an environment where there are no repercussions if your opinion differs from that of ‘the Boss’.

When Psychological Safety isn’t present, going to work and communicating with co-workers can feel as if you are navigating landmines. So, it becomes safer to stay quiet and not risk an explosion instead of giving direct feedback or sharing your opinion.

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Rather than focus energy on the common goal for the greater good, employees spend time tiptoeing around assumed landmines, avoiding crucial conversations and interpreting behaviours and actions – rather than clarifying. This drives ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

How can we cultivate a work environment that enhances learning, candor and effectiveness? Some ideas…

1. Inclusion Safety – improve the onboarding process to ensure new employees quickly connect and have a sense of belonging.
2. Learner Safety – create a culture where people feel comfortable to ask questions, receive feedback, experiment, and own up.
3. Contributor Safety – explain the ‘why’, assign the ‘what’ and delegate the ‘how’. Provide autonomy and guidance in exchange for results
4. Challenger Safety – leaders need to master how to increase intellectual friction (idea collision, debate, constructive dissent) yet reduce social friction that may arise.

At the end of the movie, regardless of how formidable the Spartans had been in previous wars, they lost to the Persians. Something Leonidas was forewarned but didn’t heed. Your company may not ‘die’, but it won’t live up to its full potential if leaders don’t ‘heed’ and deliberately cultivate this environment. It’s simple to implement but not easy; requires leadership commitment, hiring right, culture alignment and continuous coaching.

So. Is your company psychologically safe?

Akanimo Ekong

Akanimo Ekong is currently the Founder and Managing Director of Candor Consulting Ltd, an adaptive and authentic Business Consulting firm providing training, employee wellbeing & team building programs, performance management and IT outsourcing services. Candor Consulting also sources & recruits mid and senior level candidates for organizations. Akanimo is a serial trainer, peak performance coach and mental health facilitator. Contact [email protected]; www.candor.ng LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/candorconsulting