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Why it matters

Living in our ever-changing world generates inner insecurity, fear and even anxiety in many people. Leaders need to create a sense of reassurance, both within themselves and within their teams.

Organizations that focus on creating a trusting work environment outperform others - and this type of organizational culture is taking on increasing significance in our modern economy, as Simon Sinek explained in a TED conference.

According to Harvard professor Amy Edmondson, psychological safety and mutual trust aren't just about being nice. It's about promoting sincere and constructive feedback, openly acknowledging one's own mistakes, cultivating a spirit of curiosity and accepting to learn from others.

Some ideas for developing this dimension with your team

Things to do

  • Create a sense of security within your team, so that everyone can express their thoughts, feelings, fears, doubts and flaws... and feel confident enough to accept being taught by others.
  • Be honest and transparent in your communications. The more visibility your team has of the future, the better. Openness and frankness help create a climate of trust. Milestones, priorities and opportunities will then seem much more accessible.
  • Promote an inclusive and participative approach to problem-solving and decision-making. Allow every team member to verbalize their ideas and participate in some way in decision-making.
  • Encourage management to get in touch with teams on a regular basis. The idea is to initiate a dialogue on the organization's culture, openly and sincerely addressing the issue of trust. The hierarchy must be able to admit its mistakes. Ask them to make a formal commitment to all their stakeholders (including individuals).
  • Sincerely appreciate people and encourage them to show consideration for one another. Leaders need to be out in the field on a regular basis, checking in with people, getting a feel for what's on the team's mind, and asking what they'd like to see happen. In other words: show recognition and openness, compliment individual efforts and show how each person contributes to the creation of value.

What to avoid

  • Not being present, neglecting exchanges and/or maintaining an emotional distance. Coldness leads to frustration, stress and dulled motivation. In their book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee talk about dissonant leaders.
  • Sending discordant signals. This is one of the most common causes of discomfort within a group. More precisely, ambivalent or contradictory messages generate cognitive dissonance. And that never bodes well for the working atmosphere or motivation...
  • Dehumanizing people. By talking so much about our workforce and/or our staff, some leaders sometimes forget that there are human beings behind those names.
  • Create a culture of denunciation where people accuse each other and point the finger at others' mistakes. Instead, encourage them to see "mistakes" as a source of teaching and edification.
  • Applying infantilizing or invasive rules or methods. This would be tantamount to introducing a parent-child mode of communication. The team's confidence would suffer.

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