Psychologically safe leader personal action planning

Create an action plan for improving psychologically safe leadership strategies. There are free resources and tools for each strategy. 

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Psychologically safe leadership strategies

When developing psychologically safe leadership strategies, assessment is the first step. Acting on your results supports continual improvement.

After completing the assessment, develop a simple action plan to implement or improve specific strategies. Consider making micro-changes you can easily integrated with existing leadership responsibilities. This approach can be more effective and sustainable than trying to implement many changes at once. Start with those easy for you and/or those that can have the greatest positive impact.

The actual strategies included in the assessment are provided for you to review in advance below.

Communication and collaboration

Effective communication involves the clear, timely, and transparent exchange of information that supports employees’ success at work. Respectful and inclusive collaboration engages every team member in ongoing conversations related to their work.  Learn more about communication and collaboration.

Social intelligence

Effective social intelligence involves demonstrating and facilitating supportive, safe and inclusive interactions in the workplace, particularly during times of stress or high demand. Learn more about social intelligence.

Problem solving and conflict management

Effective problem solving involves supporting and requiring respectful, solution-focused approaches to challenges. Effective conflict management is conducted in a timely, inclusive and safe manner.   Learn more about problem solving and conflict management.

Security and safety

Security and safety require proactive, prompt and supportive responses to all threats to psychological and physical safety in the workplace. Learn more about security and safety.

Fairness and integrity

Fairness and integrity are core components of psychologically safe leadership. Communication and decision making must take into account diversity of employee needs, yet be consistently unbiased and respectful. Learn more about fairness and integrity.

Strategies relevant to fairness and integrity were drawn from the other domains: communication and collaboration, social intelligence, security and safety, problem solving and conflict management. This is intended to highlight fairness and integrity as a critical component of psychologically safe leadership.

Identify specific strategies you wish to incorporate in your leadership approach.

Review each of the strategies provided in your assessment results and choose one to 3 strategies to begin working on. You may wish to prioritize based on strategies that:

  • You’re already aware of and can improve upon
  • Are most relevant to reaching your desired outcomes
  • Will help you improve or address significant issues
  • Have the implicit support and/or authorization from senior leadership if needed
  • Are realistic with the time and resources available to you
  • Use your existing skills and abilities
  • Will have the greatest positive impact on the psychological safety of your employees

Share your plan with your senior leader(s) for their support or permission.

  • If you need to obtain permission to implement any of the strategies you’ve identified, seek approval after you’ve prepared the following summary:
    • The strategies you’ve selected
    • The link to the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace
    • Intended benefits and outcomes for your team
    • Intended benefits and outcomes for the organization and its goals
    • Organizational support or training you may need
    • Necessary resources like your time and any other expenses
  • Once you’ve received approval, follow up with an email to confirm what was discussed with your senior leader. Include your plans and any limitations or restrictions. 

If relevant to your strategies, discuss with employees to ensure the intended approach will support their work success.\

  • Share your intended action plan with your employees. Tell them you’re seeking to add leadership strategies that better support them and ask:
    • How might implementing this strategy benefit you or your co-workers?
    • What could be potential risks or challenges if we take this approach?
    • What else would make this approach even more effective at supporting our success as a team?
  • Take a stance of curiosity rather than critical analysis. Ask questions to draw out more complete answers and resist offering your own opinion or criticizing what your employees suggest. Remember there’s often a perceived risk in speaking out to your leader about what they could or should do differently. It’s important to create a sense of safety if you wish to engage in open dialogue. This is an essential element of being a psychologically safe leader. You can critically analyze the answers with a trusted advisor or peer following the conversation with your employees.
  • If you encounter cynicism, skepticism or negativity from your employees think about what might be underlying these attitudes. It could be:
    • A workplace incident like violence or harassment
    • Changes in team dynamic
    • Current conflict
    • Current organizational changes that are difficult for employees
    • Personal health or family issues that impact judgment or observations
    • A previous leader who wasn’t psychologically safe
    • Work overload
    • Lack of clarity about demands 
    • Fear or anxiety about job retention
    • Lack of awareness about what the leader does in confidence

This isn’t a personality or character assessment. It focuses only on the extent to which strategies known to support psychologically safe work are being implemented.

For more help with team discussions check out:

  • Facilitation tips for leaders – strategies to engage team members in productive conversations while managing negative or problematic responses.
  • On the agenda workshop series – a series of videos, presentation slides and supporting materials that can help pave the way for discussions and action aimed at developing a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.
  • Team building activities – developed by experts, these can help build resilience and emotional intelligence by improving the ability of leaders and team members to:
    • Respond effectively to workplace stressors
    • Resolve issues
    • Support each other through challenging times

Create a realistic and attainable action plan. The Action planning worksheet can help you:

  • Access resources to assist in executing the action plan.
    • Click relevant domain(s) with the strategies you wish to implement. Choose the relevant strategy statement. You’ll be directed to information or given a link to a free resource that can help you develop your action plan.
  • Monitor outcomes and reassess to support continual improvement.
    • Use your Action planning worksheet to track the outcomes when you’ve implemented your strategies.
    • Make modifications or changes as necessary to your strategies to improve outcomes.
    • Once this becomes part of your regular leadership approach, reassess for potential new strategies to adopt.
Contributors include.articlesDr. Joti SamraMary Ann Baynton

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