Psychologically safe team assessment

This resource helps to assess how employees experience being a member of your team.

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The Psychologically safe team assessment goes beyond looking at leadership. It measures how team members feel about how they interact with each other and their sense of inclusion. In other words, it's not just up to the leader; everyone on the team has a role in making the team a safe and inclusive work environment.

There are various assessments available to evaluate psychological health and safety. If you're unsure about which assessment to prioritize, a description of each is available in Psychological health and safety tools

The assessment

The psychologically safe team assessment is an online assessment tool that any leader can use. It takes less than 10 minutes to set up and is then sent out to each team member by email. After the assessment is completed, a report can be generated, highlighting both positive aspects of the team’s experience and areas that could benefit from improvement.

Your team’s score and relevant resources, such as team activities, workshop materials, and strategies, accompany each statement in the report. While these suggested resources are provided, you have the freedom to use your own knowledge and experience to choose alternative approaches that you believe will benefit your team.

Are you ready for the truth?

When the experience of being on a team is less than ideal, it’s not always the leader’s fault, but it’s always the leader’s responsibility to take action to improve it. 

It can be tough to hear that your team members don't feel safe or included. But it's important to remember that their negative responses may not be about you or your team. It could be related to interactions with a client, supplier, committee member, or someone from another department. In any case, ignoring issues doesn’t make them go away and could lead to a more significant problem. Start by seeking the truth and then take steps to make the team experience better for everyone.

Being a great team leader isn't about being perfect. It's about being willing to adapt and improve based on the dynamics of your unique team members. It also requires asking for feedback that may be difficult to hear.

Understanding your results

For each statement your report will show a bar graph with the aggregated responses from your team.

  • Red on the bar graph represents potential serious concerns and could require your immediate attention.
  • Yellow on the bar graph represents potential opportunities for improvement.
  • Green on the bar graph represents potential strengths and could indicate areas where the team is currently doing well.

The assessment response choices are never, rarely, sometimes, often or always. Some statements are weighted differently than others. For instance, if there is discrimination, even rarely, it would be shown in red as a serious concern.

In any statement, even one serious concern could potentially be an indicator that change is needed. Although it could have come from just one single overwhelmed employee, it could eventually impact your entire team. It could also be that one serious concern is actually unfair treatment on the basis of age, gender, race, health conditions, or other reasons connected to human rights. 

It’s up to you as a leader to determine whether the specific statement represents a potential legal issue, something that you could easily improve or something that requires organizational support. 

Acting on results

Once you’ve closed your assessment and generated your report, engaging your team members in helping you interpret the results and develop solutions is key. 

When interpreting feedback from your team, it’s important to consider the level of trust and safety that currently exists. Your results represent the experiences that the unique members of your team feel safe to share at this moment. For all these reasons, while the report is an excellent starting point, the actions you take will lead to improvement. 

Prioritizing your results

There are many ways to prioritize your next steps based on your results. You may wish to prioritize statements which:

  • Present potential legal concerns, such as discrimination.
  • Have the greatest percentage of serious concerns (red). 
  • Are critical to meeting your team’s current objectives.

When you have addressed all of these, you may wish to re-administer the assessment or begin working on the statements with potential for concern.

Choosing your approach

Consider your team’s comfort level when deciding whether to host an open discussion or allow for anonymous input. The opportunity for anonymous responses may be necessary to gather honest feedback from all members. 

Anonymous input can include an online platform, suggestion boxes, online surveys, or a dedicated team email address that will not identify the sender. Be sure to provide the team with clear instructions on how they can provide their feedback anonymously.

Even if you choose an open team discussion, consider providing your questions in advance to allow each member to formulate a response that they will contribute at your meeting. This gives your quieter members an opportunity to be prepared. 

A broad approach

You could send the link to the statements and strategies that you have prioritized from your analysis of the report and ask each team member to choose up to 3 strategies they believe will be most beneficial for the team. You can then group similar strategies (for example dealing with workload, work tasks or work expectations), and propose an approach for the one that was chosen most often by your team. Then bring your team together to share that approach and ask them to help you refine and carry it out. 

You may decide to take immediate action on any strategies that focus on serious or legal issues, to manage potential risk.

A specific approach

Invite team members to contribute potential solutions to address a specific statement. Choose whether to gather anonymous responses or share the question(s) before a meeting based on the level of trust and safety in your team. 

For example, if the statement “My team leader leads by example” is the one you wish to improve upon, you could modify or use the “Explore further” wording that follows the statement to request input from your team. In this example, you could send an email that says:

“There is no doubt I have room for improvement as a leader. Please use this anonymous method to share some helpful ideas about what I could do better to be an ideal leader.”

Or go even further with:

“Thank you for your responses to the Psychologically Safe Team Assessment. As I strive to improve the team experience for all of us, I also want to improve my own approaches as a leader. In the coming weeks you will receive the Psychologically Safe Leader Assessment where you will anonymously provide me with your take on how often I use strategies known to support your psychological health and safety. Once I get your results I will share with you the changes that I believe you’d like me to make in my leadership strategy.” 

If you have good rapport with your team, you can also invite them to communicate with you individually about their concerns or observations.

Timing is key

Consider sending only one "Explore further” question at a time. This allows you to respond to the employee feedback and demonstrate your commitment to take action. 

Continual improvement

By applying these strategies, you can use result interpretation as a catalyst for positive change.

Although being transparent and collaborating with the team on your strategy may be ideal, it’s not always practical. Regardless of the approach you use, you can begin making improvements immediately and administer the assessment again after 6-12 months to evaluate your results.  

Even if you do not use the assessment tool, you can review the strategies below and implement any of the ideas you feel would support your team’s psychological safety.

Statements and suggested strategies

The Psychologically safe team assessment statements are broken into three categories: Leadership strategies, Team interactions and Inclusion. What follows are the assessment statements and suggested strategies for each category. Some of the resources that are provided can be used to address multiple statements. For example, the Feedback preferences form |PDF allows you to learn a lot about how to provide feedback that is more effective, constructive and specific to each team member.

Leadership

These statements refer to things that are largely within the control of the team leader, although they can be impacted by the interactions and behaviours of the team members.

1. My team leader leads by example.

Do you respond to stress, frustration, overwhelm, anger, disappointment and conflict in the same way you want the rest of your team to respond? Is your response psychologically safe and effective in terms of resolving issues effectively? If not, consider doing the Emotional intelligence self-assessment and developing ways to lead by example, even in difficult situations. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"There is no doubt I have room for improvement as a leader. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share some helpful ideas about what I could do better to be an ideal leader."

or

"Thank you for your responses to the Psychologically Safe Team Assessment. As I strive to improve the team experience for all of us, I also want to improve my own approaches as a leader. In the coming weeks you will receive the Psychologically Safe Leader Assessment where you will anonymously provide me with your take on how often I use strategies known to support your psychological health and safety. Once I get your results I will share with you the changes that I believe you’d like me to make in my leadership strategy."

2. I have opportunities at work to improve my skills.  

Employees who would like to improve their skills could benefit from opportunities for in-house learning development, webinars, books or, articles. You can also allow employees to take on new opportunities, provide them with useful feedback, and ask them what skills they would like to further develop. 

If budget is the reason your employees feel they do not have opportunities to improve their skills at work, you can provide opportunities that do not require funding. Team members can share strategies, tips and techniques amongst themselves by reading from reputable sources and sharing what they’ve learned, creating in-house learning to share with the team, watching free webinars or listening to free podcasts together and discussing as a team. One team member could present a particular skill to other team members, or you could ask each team member to bring highlights from any training sessions they attend back to the team. 

To learn more about how your team would like to improve their skills, you can facilitate a workshop on Growth and development or just have a conversation about what they’d like to learn. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Help me get creative on approaches to improving or developing the skills that matter to you. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share some helpful ideas about how we could teach and share skills in our workplace, including if we’re not given the budget for external training or trainers. For example, if you feel confident about teaching a specific skill to the rest of the team, or know a great free online source, please let me know."

3. I can comfortably manage my workload. 

Workload stress is more likely to come from fears or concerns employees have about the consequences of not getting everything done on time and perfectly than purely from the amount of work they have, if they are not required to consistently work overtime. The way you communicate could negatively affect any insecurities your employees may have. In either case, facilitating the workshop on Workload management can help put the issues on the table for a constructive conversation. Another very effective way to reduce workload stress is to discuss priorities with each employee so that if they are unable to get everything done in a day, they are clear on which tasks matter most to you and what can wait for another day.

When employees are clear about their priorities, feel that the work they do matters, have what they need to succeed and have reasonable expectations in terms of hours and deadlines, working hard is not necessarily stressful. In fact, it may be energizing.

If your members are experiencing or at risk of burnout, Burnout response for leaders contains helpful information as well as an organizational assessment and prevention strategies. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that workload is sometimes an issue. Please complete this workload reflection tool so I can brainstorm ways to make this better for you."

4. I have access to the resources I need to meet expectations at work.

Access to resources may mean the equipment, technology, and materials needed to do the job. Ask your employees what else might allow them to get their job done effectively.

If you have a hybrid team, the needs of those working remotely may be different from those working on-site. Hybrid teams has some tips and strategies that could help you in this case. 

If each of your team members do very different tasks or if you have the capacity to take a one-on-one approach, you may want to use Supporting employee success or the Task improvement process | PDF to develop individual plans. 

Sometimes a leader’s expectations are not clearly understood by employees. To help you develop an approach with your team to address this issue, engage them in the Clear leadership and expectations workshop. This can improve your understanding of what they need to meet or exceed your expectations. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that workload is sometimes an issue. Please complete this workload reflection tool so I can brainstorm ways to make this better for you."

5. My leader clearly communicates any changes in work expectations. 

How each team member responds to information about change will depend on their current emotional state, mental and physical health, and satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their job. Helping employees to manage change is a skill that requires adaptation depending on the circumstance and the individual employee. There are many techniques and strategies that can help in Psychologically safe communication and collaboration.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that changes in work expectations are not always clearly communicated. I’m asking all of you to share ideas that would improve clarity around work expectations for you or anyone on our team."

6. I am given an appropriate amount of time to complete my work tasks. 

It’s not unusual for a leader to have a different sense of the amount of time required to complete a task than the employee does. Whenever team members are given a new task or are concerned about the amount of time needed for an existing task, it’s good practice to break it down. Providing clarity about each step and the amount of time you believe it’ll require gives your employee a clear understanding of your expectation. If you invite them to let you know if any of your estimations don’t match the actual time required, you’re encouraging constructive dialogue. If there’s a discrepancy between your estimation and the actual time the employee is taking, you may benefit from watching the employee complete the task or having a more experienced team member demonstrate how they do the task. The intention is to decide whether the employee needs more knowledge, skills or support or if you need to adjust your estimation.

One tool that might help with this is the Task improvement process | PDF and Task improvement worksheet | PDF.

In some situations, an employee may be dealing with a health issue or disability that is affecting the amount of time it takes them to complete a work task. If this is the case, you should consider your Legal duty to accommodate

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you indicated that you don’t have enough time to complete certain work tasks. I’d like to collaborate with you on how we can improve that. It could be that I don’t fully understand what’s involved, that there’s an easier way that you haven’t been taught or that competing demands are interfering with your ability to complete the task. Whether it’s one of these or something else, we can work together to improve your experience. Together we’ll complete the Task improvement worksheet to explore solutions."

7. The feedback I receive from my leader is constructive. 

We can motivate – or demotivate – employees by the feedback we give them. Learning about giving constructive feedback is critical to motivating growth and development. 

It’s also a good idea to help your team members learn to receive and view constructive feedback as something to support them rather than as a threat to their job security. In Interpret negative feedback accurately you can help your team think about how to respond and what it really means to get constructive feedback. You can also learn more about individual preferences by using the Feedback preferences form | PDF with each team member. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that there are better ways to provide feedback. Please complete this Feedback preferences form and send it back to me within a week."

8. My team leader considers the team’s feedback when making decisions.

Learning to Elicit feedback, and to resist dismissing or criticizing it, can be difficult. While you can’t always do what your team wants you to do, demonstrating that you seriously consider their ideas and asking how they might deal with your perceived challenges can open up a dialogue focused on solutions that you may not have considered. 

Any of the On the agenda workshop creating awareness series are examples of soliciting and integrating your team’s feedback in a way that respects limitations related to time, authority and resources. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that there are better ways to provide feedback. Please complete this Feedback preferences form."

9. All team members are held accountable for their performance. 

As a leader, it’s important to support effective performance for each team member, and part of that is following up to ensure success. Accountability doesn’t have to be punitive. Using the approach to performance management that includes Supportive task improvement can help you do this effectively. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t believe everyone is held accountable for their behaviours or performance equally. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share more about how you feel we can do better in this regard."

10. My team leader recognizes my individual contributions to the team.  

How and when leaders recognize individual contributions from each team member is an important element of motivation. In Recognition strategies for leaders you’ll find strategies and tools to help you improve your approach to providing recognition to team members.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that individual recognition for your contributions to our team could be improved. I would like each of you to complete the attached Recognition preferences form so I can learn more about the strategies you prefer."

11. My team leader supports the team in coming up with solutions to challenges.   

Effective problem solving involves supporting and requiring respectful, solution-focused approaches to challenges. 

Psychologically safe problem solving and conflict management has many strategies and techniques to help improve your approach to resolving workplace issues. 

In Team building activities under the heading Problem-solve, you’ll find activities that can help boost both the confidence and competence of your team in dealing with challenges.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Please use [this anonymous method*] to share ideas on how we can improve our ability to problem solve more effectively as a team. All ideas are welcome."

12. My team leader cares about me as an individual.

You may in fact care about each employee as individuals, but fail to demonstrate this by your words and actions. Learning to identify employee issues and help them to resolve them successfully is an important skillset. Identifying employee issues provides an approach to asking questions, identifying issues, collaborating on solutions and clarifying expectations. All of this can help you show your team members that you care about them as individuals and have a genuine desire to support their success.

In Building trust for leaders you’re also given 11 core competencies to help you develop, improve or sustain positive working relationships with your employees. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"There is no doubt I have room for improvement as a leader. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share some helpful ideas about what I could do better to be an ideal leader"

or

"Thank you for your responses to the Psychologically Safe Team Assessment. As I strive to improve the team experience for all of us, I also want to improve my own approaches as a leader. In the coming weeks you will receive the Psychologically Safe Leader Assessment where you will anonymously provide me with your take on how often I use strategies known to support your psychological health and safety. Once I get your results I will share with you the changes that I believe you’d like me to make in my leadership strategy."

Team interactions  

These statements are related to how the team members interact with each other. They can be influenced by both leadership strategies and the level of inclusion each team member feels.

1. Members of my team approach the work we have to do with a solutions-focused attitude. 

There are many reasons why your team may not have a can-do, solutions-focused attitude. It may be that they do not have the resources, time, equipment or skills to do their jobs effectively. If this is the case, you may want to review the Performance management techniques to understand what is required to address these issues. It may be that some people on your team do not have healthy coping strategies. 

There may be issues in terms of how conflict is resolved or it may be that your employees need help with managing stress overall. Using Plan for resilience with all team members can be a good starting point to build healthier coping strategies to deal with stress and challenges. There are resources such as slides and a facilitator guide that can help you host a workshop to Build resilience

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"I want everyone to feel supported to do their job effectively, even when challenges arise or mistakes are made. To do this, I’d like each of you to complete this workload reflection tool so I can learn what might make your job easier. I will arrange a one-on-one with each of you in the coming months to discuss what you shared with me."

2. My team celebrates our successes together. 

In a busy work environment, we may go from one project or task to the next without ever stopping to reflect on the efforts and contribution that each employee made. Celebrating successes can help boost team morale, prevent burnout and share knowledge. Some activities that can help each team member support the celebration of success of every other team member includes Acknowledge our accomplishments, Specific active acknowledgment and Recognize strengths

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Please use [this anonymous method*] to share ideas on ways we can celebrate team successes. Think about ways it can be done that are inclusive and cost-effective. All ideas are welcome."

3. My team adheres to boundaries that support a work-life balance. 

Because every team is unique, the best approach is to have a discussion about what would support work-life balance. The Balance workshop materials can support you in facilitating this discussion while managing any unreasonable or impractical expectations. You could also share these Work-life balance tips or use them for discussion about how people can best manage and achieve balance in their lives. Although work-life balance may look different for each employee, you may want to have a discussion about the expectation that each team member will find what works for them. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that work-life balance can be an issue. I’ll be sharing tips each week to help with that. I also want to know how work can be changed to provide more balance while still meeting our goals. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share your ideas for changes at work. All ideas are welcome and I will share those that are practical for our team."

or

"Work-life balance looks different for each of us. Some want a known routine while others appreciate flexibility. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share ideas on ways your work-life balance can be supported. I will share all of the ideas that are practical for our team and then we can discuss the pros and cons of each. For example, an idea that might help your work-life balance could place more of a burden on your co-workers, where another idea might have positive benefits for everyone."

4. My team interacts respectfully.

To help improve the way your team members treat each other, engage them in the Psychologically safe interactions workshop to help show how behaviours might be interpreted as disrespectful, regardless of intent. 

Sometimes the reason team members feel disrespected is because of the unconscious or implicit bias of other members. On the Implicit bias webpage, you’ll find workshop materials, team building activities and other information to help you address this issue. 

The Civility and respect workshop brings your team together to develop a shared understanding of what civility and respect means to them, and what changes they’d like to make to the ways they interact. 

With the Being a mindful employee resource, you could assign each of your team members to complete this online course that speaks to their responsibility to be respectful and protect the psychological safety of every other member. Once it’s completed, you could take each of the modules and use them to discuss how people should be interacting in the workplace. 

There are many Team building activities that can help your team improve the way they work together in a respectful way. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that not all team interactions are respectful. Because respect can mean different things to different people, we will come together to define civility and respect for our team. This 2.5-hour workshop will happen on [date/time/location]. Please come prepared to make a positive contribution. This session will not focus on specific individuals or situations. It will focus on how we want to interact as a team in the future."

5. My team is supportive when one of our members is upset.

Sometimes people are not supportive because of assumptions they make about behaviours when someone is upset. Some people may become angry, others may be on the verge of tears, and some may become anxious. When we learn to look beyond the behaviours to become curious about what might be motivating someone, we’re practicing non-judgmental interpretations. This can help all of your team members to be more supportive when someone is upset. 

Another reason team members may not be supportive is if your culture is one of personal competitiveness. To help reconsider the approach, you can help reset by using the team activity Improve team culture. Developing a Team agreement can also help set the stage for effective support by clarifying what it is and how to do it.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Thank you for your feedback in the Psychologically safe team assessment. As part of our continual improvement, we’ll now engage in a team agreement process. This will allow you to tell me what kind of team environment is ideal for us and how we should be supportive to each other in times of stress."

6. When project timelines change, my team works together to re-examine our priorities. 

When teams work together to re-examine priorities during times of change, they’re more likely to be committed to a successful outcome than when a change is simply thrust upon them. The team activity Identify and overcome obstacles could be used at any time of change to help re-establish what success or the desired outcome will be now.

Developing a Team agreement can also help create a shared purpose and collaboration on re-examining priorities. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Thank you for your feedback in the Psychologically safe team assessment. As part of our continual improvement, we’ll now engage in a team agreement process. This will allow you to tell me what kind of team environment is ideal for us and how we can work together to have a shared purpose and collaborate on our changing priorities."

7. My team approaches setbacks or failures as learning opportunities.

If your team does not learn from setbacks or failures, you can help change that by how you give feedback. You could also engage your team in activities like Mistake meetings, Identify and overcome obstacles, Identify workplace risks or Learning from the past to help change the way they think about and learn from challenges. Leveraging team wisdom is a workshop you can facilitate that walks your team through 3 activities.

Developing a Team agreement can also help your team work together to deal with setbacks or failures as opportunities for learning and growth.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Thank you for your feedback in the Psychologically safe team assessment. As part of our continual improvement, we’ll now engage in a team agreement process. This will allow you to tell me what kind of team environment is ideal for us and how we can work together to deal with setbacks or failures as opportunities for learning and growth."

8. My team resolves differences of opinion respectfully. 

Teaching each member of the team how to resolve interpersonal conflict themselves should greatly reduce your need to intervene. You can share Resolving personal conflict with your team and engage them in role-playing using these strategies. 

Developing a Team agreement can also help your team resolve differences of opinion more respectfully.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Thank you for your feedback in the Psychologically safe team assessment. As part of our continual improvement, we’ll now engage in a team agreement process. This will allow you to tell me what kind of team environment is ideal for us and how we can better consider differences of opinion and resolve conflict more respectfully and effectively."

9. All team members are held accountable for their behaviour.

There could be many reasons why an employee’s behaviour is problematic. Whether it's related to a mental health issue, a life stressor or conflict in the workplace, it’s important that you address the behaviour in such a way that it no longer has a negative impact on others. Developing employee plans for leaders provides you with a step-by-step guide to developing solutions to work-related behavioural issues. 

It is also helpful if team members respectfully hold each other accountable by providing support when behaviours are affecting the team. The Team agreement process can help create an understanding of how and when to do this effectively.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Thank you for your feedback in the Psychologically safe team assessment. As part of our continual improvement, we’ll now engage in a team agreement process. This will allow you to tell me what kind of team environment is ideal for us and how we can better support a positive contribution from each team member in an equitable and inclusive manner."

10. My team members share supportive feedback with one another.

Every team is a little bit different in terms of how they interact. To develop a shared understanding of how your team members will support each other, you can use team discussion workshops such as Psychologically safe interactions or Civility and respect. There are also activities that could help such as Improve team culture and Specific active acknowledgment

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Although the primary responsibility for providing feedback is mine, the responses to the Psychologically safe team assessment indicate that feedback from your team members can also have an impact. To support effective feedback between and among all team members, we’ll be engaging in an activity on [date/time/location] where we will learn an approach to provide specific and active feedback. We will then hold each other, myself included, to use this approach as often as we can."

11. My team members support each other’s successes.

Teaching your team members why, when and how to provide specific active acknowledgement is important. This can become part of team meetings where people give shout outs to others, or you can have a gratitude or appreciation board where people can post these expressions, but most important is to encourage people to acknowledge the efforts of others in the moment.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Although the primary responsibility for supporting your work success is mine, the responses to the Psychologically safe team assessment indicate that support from your team members can also have an impact. To help us improve on this, we’ll be engaging in an activity on [date/time/location] where we will learn an approach to provide support between and among team members. We will then hold each other, myself included, to use this approach as often as we can"

12. I can influence important team decisions. 

Influencing important decisions isn’t the same as making the decisions. It’s important to be clear about what can be influenced or changed before discussion begins. Facilitating the workshop on Involvement and influence can help establish opportunities and boundaries related to decision-making. 

The activity Improve team culture can also help shift the way people feel about being part of your team. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t feel that you have any influence on team decisions. While some decisions are outside of even my control, I do want everyone to know and feel that their opinion and ideas matter. Because this can mean different things to different people, we will come together to define involvement and influence for our team. This 2.5-hour workshop will happen on [date/time/location]. Please come prepared to make a positive contribution by thinking of creative ideas related to how your voice is heard and how your opinions are considered in decision-making that impacts your job."

13. The stressors at work are manageable. 

If you’re aware of the stressors affecting your team members, you can address these directly. For example, if the issue is psychological demands, work-life balancebullying or mental health issues including stress, there are resources that can help. If you’re unsure of what the challenges are, you can facilitate the Workload management workshop to engage your team in a discussion about potential solutions. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that the stressors at work are sometimes overwhelming. I want to understand what that means so that I can take action. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share all of the stressors that you encounter at work, even those that may seem minor, because if we can eliminate some of those, it might make it easier to deal with the stressors we can’t eliminate."

14. My work matters to my team.

Ensuring employees feel their work matters can be as simple as regularly pointing out how each person’s contribution makes a difference to the team. You might recognize or point out a couple of examples each week with just a few sentences in a meeting or newsletter. For example, saying, “Because Paul delivered the mail so promptly on Thursday, I was able to have the answer to the client immediately.” It’s important to do this in front of the other team members so that everyone learns to appreciate the contributions of the other members. 

Some of the team activities that may be relevant include:

  • Acknowledge our accomplishments. Try this team-building activity to help acknowledge team accomplishments. 
  • Improve team culture. This team-building activity helps you ask the right questions and pay close attention to the answers. 
  • Recognize strengths. This team-building activity helps team members think about and articulate the strengths that others bring to the team. 
  • Team huddle. Celebrating each other's wins and supporting one another's challenges can help build team and organizational resilience.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that acknowledgment by team members about your contributions matters to you. I think it’s important that everyone recognizes and values the work of everyone else. To do this, I’d like to ask each of you to write out at least 3 bullet points about the work that you contribute and how it impacts the team, our products or services and the organization. I’ll collect these and remove the names, then as a team, we’ll read them out and guess who they belong to. I will take the liberty of enhancing or modifying if I feel that you haven’t adequately stated your contribution. Please have these to me by [date].

15. I am committed to the success of my team. 

This is a fundamental question related to the level of engagement of your team members. Facilitating the Engagement workshop explores what it would take for your employees to be committed to the success of the team.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t feel engaged with the team. We’re going to come together to consider ways to support engagement for every team member. This 2.5-hour workshop will happen on [date/time/location]. Please come prepared to make a positive contribution by thinking about what does or could make you feel committed to the success of your team at work. This session won’t focus on specific individuals or situations. It will focus on how we want to interact as a team in the future."

16. People on my team recognize one another’s efforts. 

Facilitating and encouraging team members to recognize the successes and contributions of their co-workers helps promote team cohesion. Team activities like Recognize strengths, Acknowledge our accomplishments or Specific active acknowledgment can help you to begin or improve this approach.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Although the primary responsibility for providing recognition for your work efforts is mine, the responses to the Psychologically safe team assessment indicate that recognition from your team members can also have an impact. To help us improve on this, we’ll be engaging in an activity on [date/time/location] where we’ll learn an approach to provide recognition between and among team members. We will then hold each other, myself included, to use this approach as often as we can."

17. My team is respected within our organization.

It’s likely that you, as the leader, often receive accolades for the work of your team. Ensure that each time this happens, you share it with all of your team members. If there are no accolades or respect for your team coming in, begin to advocate or promote the contributions they are making in order to change the impression of others. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Please use [this anonymous method*] to share ideas on ways we can improve respect for our team within this organization. Please share how you feel respect from those outside our team is or can be demonstrated. For example, respect might be demonstrated by someone seeking the opinion of our team related to planning or development. If this doesn’t happen now, we may need to be more proactive in sharing our ideas for innovation and improvement. All ideas are welcome."

18. I feel like a valued member of my team. 

Team activities like Recognize strengths, Acknowledge our accomplishments or Specific active acknowledgment can help each member of your team feel valued. 

Part of feeling valued is putting value on our own efforts. Ask your team members to recognize their own daily contributions and accomplishments. This could be used in a follow-up discussion with each team member, it could be something that becomes part of an ongoing process or you could choose some of the best highlights of the week or month to share in team meetings. Be sure to include both small accomplishments and large accomplishments.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"In the busy day-to-day, we may not be aware of the efforts or contributions that team members are making. It’s equally important for you to be able to recognize your own achievements. For the next 2 weeks, I want you to record one positive contribution of any size and one accomplishment that you made each day at work. I’d like you to email these to me at the end of each day. "

19. I enjoy being part of my team.

If team members don’t enjoy being part of their team, it could be due to ongoing conflicts. Conflict response for leaders provides an approach to managing conflict between workers. This approach focuses on solutions rather than the disagreement. 

Team building activities can also help support team cohesion, communication and effectiveness. These are especially helpful as they directly engage team members in improving the way they manage workplace stress and interactions with others. 

For those who would normally enjoy being part of their team, this could potentially be a sign or symptom of feeling burnt out. Burnout response for leaders provides information to help identify, prevent and respond to burnout at work. These strategies can help protect overachievers and those recovering from burnout.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared how much you enjoy being part of this team. It is my goal that everyone enjoys being part of our team, at least most of the time. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share all of the ways you already enjoy being part of this team or ways in which your enjoyment on this team could be increased. I will take these into consideration as I create my plan for continual improvement."

20. I feel proud of the work I do.

There are at least three perspectives on this statement. One is whether the person feels the work they do is adequately done. If this is not the case, they may need more training to feel competent to accomplish the task at hand. You could use the Supportive performance management approach to help with this. Another perspective is whether they feel their work is valued by their team. This can come from the way they are recognized for their efforts by you the leader, and by their peers. If they don’t feel their work is valued, there are several strategies to consider in recognition strategies for leaders. It could also be that the work they are doing clashes with their personal values or does not take advantage of their strengths. In these situations, you may want to have a conversation with the employee to understand what they need to be different to allow them to be proud of their work.  

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared how proud you are of the work you do. It is my goal that everyone be proud of their work, at least most of the time. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share all of the ways you feel proud of the work that you do, and what would be necessary to increase your pride in your work. I will take these into consideration as I create my plan for continual improvement."

21. When I make mistakes at work, I am able to learn from them and move on. 

When your team members are afraid of making a mistake, or beat themselves up afterwards if they do make one, it can get in the way of them seeing mistakes as inevitable, part of learning and something that should be shared to help others. In addition, honesty about mistakes means that they’re less likely to be hidden until a time they become a crisis. Some of the team activities that can help you change this behaviour include Mistake meetings and Interpret negative feedback accurately. The activity Learning from the past can help more senior employees share some of the mistakes or challenges that they’ve had and how they learned or grew from them. 

On the other hand, onereason people may not feel comfortable sharing their mistakes could be that they’re not sure how you as their leader would react. In Building trust for leaders you can explore the core competencies of trust and ways you can improve their comfort level with you. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"In any organization where continual improvement and innovation are expected, we’ll make mistakes. The goal is to learn from our mistakes. One way that we can do this is by sharing our experiences and either sharing how we corrected the mistake or asking the team for help to solve the problem. 

I’m going to go first, and at subsequent meetings, you’ll each be expected to bring something to the meeting that you can share about a challenge you’ve encountered or a mistake you’ve made."

Inclusion  

These statements are related to the level of inclusion and belonging that individual team members feel.

1. I am treated fairly on our team.

Fairness is subjective. If the people on your team don’t feel they’re being treated fairly, it may be because there is discrimination, which needs to be addressed immediately. We all have implicit bias and often it is unconscious. Awareness can reduce the damage caused. It could also be because they do not trust your motives or understand your decision-making processes. In all cases, these links will bring you to resources that can help.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t always feel you’re treated fairly on our team. I want to understand what that means so that I can take action. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share examples of how you feel you or someone else are not being treated fairly on our team. I really appreciate your help in eliminating any intentional or unintentional bias."

or

"Some of you shared that you don’t always feel you’re treated fairly on our team. We’re going to come together to learn more about how that might happen unintentionally and how we can do better. This one-hour Implicit bias workshop will happen on [date/time/location]."

2. My colleagues treat me with respect.

This is so critical to a psychologically safe team. You as a leader can be as respectful as humanly possible, but if your team members are disrespectful towards each other, they will never feel safe. It is not practical for you to police every interaction, so you need to have the team develop their own agreement about how they will interact, and you need to have a process for them to hold each other accountable. It should only be when this process fails that they need to come to you to enforce respect. You could begin with the Putting civility and respect on the agenda workshop to determine what matters to your team members. You could also develop a team agreement by sitting down with each team member individually to create an agreement that everyone can buy into. 

You could also use Psychologically safe interactions workshop to help people better understand the unintended consequences of their words and behaviours. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that not all team interactions are respectful. We all deserve to have a safe working environment. This goes beyond physical safety to psychological safety. This means we interact and communicate in ways that do no harm to others. This 1.5-hour Psychologically safe interactions workshop will happen on [date/time/location]. Together we will think about the type of work environment we want to create. In this workshop, we will examine the unintended consequences of what we say and do, the assumptions we make about others and the meaning of moral courage for our workplace."

3. I feel comfortable being myself at work.

Not everyone wants to share every aspect of who they are at work. The goal is to make it safe to do so, rather than expecting or forcing it. To make it safe to be yourself means you don't have to hide any part of yourself for fear of judgment, ridicule or harassment. Workshops on psychological and social support, implicit bias or civility and respect may help. Check out each of these and decide which might be most effective for your team. This is another situation where the development of a team agreement could be helpful. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t always feel comfortable being yourself at work. I want to understand what that means so that I can take action. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share examples of where you or someone else may not feel comfortable being themselves at work. I really appreciate your help in making this a more inclusive work team."

or

"Some of you shared that you don’t always feel comfortable being yourself at work. We’re going to come together to learn more about how that might happen unintentionally and how we can do better. This one-hour Implicit bias workshop will happen on [date/time/location]."

4. If someone outside of our team was being difficult, my team members would support me.

Knowing that someone has your back is an important part of psychological safety. The more your team members support each other, the more they’ll feel safe to share concerns and challenges. This in turn can help avert crises or bigger problems from being hidden or allowed to grow. The team agreement process can be used to decide what “having your back” means to your team members, and the specific actions that will either support or take away from this. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Thank you for your feedback in the Psychologically safe team assessment. As part of our continual improvement, we’ll now engage in a team agreement process. This will allow you to tell me what kind of team environment is ideal for us and how we can better support each other and have each other’s back."

5. Each of my team members has a voice in establishing work priorities. 

Priorities may be outside the authority of team members, and sometimes even outside your authority as a leader. Engaging team members in a discussion about what they can influence can boost commitment and motivation. Even when the priority is not negotiable, engaging team members in how they will meet work priorities and deadlines can be beneficial. It is critical to ensure that every member of the team is encouraged to contribute to these conversations. To arrive at an approach to do this effectively, you can use the Involvement and influence workshop with your team. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you feel that not all team members have a voice in establishing work priorities. While some priorities are outside of even my control, I do want everyone to know and feel that your opinions and ideas matter. Because this can mean different things to different people, we will come together to define involvement and influence for our team. This 2.5-hour workshop will happen on [date/time/location]. Please come prepared to make a positive contribution by thinking of creative ideas related to how your voice gets heard and how your opinions are considered in decision-making that impacts your job."

6. I feel safe working with my team.

Feeling physically safe has as much to do with being intimidated or threatened by others as it may have to do with other safety protocols. To understand what this actually means, you can either engage each team member personally to ask what feeling safe on the team means to them, or you could facilitate the Protection of physical safety workshop or Psychological protection workshop, depending on where you feel the greatest need is.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t always feel safe working with your team. I want to understand what that means so I can take action. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share examples of where you or someone else might not feel physically or psychologically safe."

7. I would feel comfortable reaching out to members of my team for help. 

As a leader, you want to create a relationship where team members feel safe reaching out to you, but if they’re more comfortable reaching out to each other, you’re still supporting psychological safety. To improve the giving and receiving of help, you may want to facilitate the Psychological and social support workshop. Team activities and events, such as Volunteer together, can also help foster trust. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to members of your team for help. There could be many reasons for this. This 2.5-hour workshop will happen on [date/time/location]. Please come prepared to make a positive contribution by thinking about the type of support you’re able to give, and the type of support you’d like to receive from other members of the team."

8. My team is respectful of different cultures.

Teams that are not respectful of different cultures can exist when there is a lack of understanding of newcomers to this country, implicit bias in how people interact on your team, or discrimination. In addition to taking advantage of these resources, consider asking your team how they demonstrate respect for different cultures in the workplace, and begin a conversation that leads to an agreement about how all team members will show respect going forward.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t always feel that our team is respectful of different cultures. I want to understand what that means so that I can take action. Please use [this anonymous method*] to share examples of where you or someone else may not feel they’re being respected. I really appreciate your help in making this a more inclusive work team."

or

"Some of you shared that you don’t always feel our team is respectful of different cultures. We’re going to come together to learn more about how that might happen unintentionally and how we can do better. This one-hour Implicit bias workshop will happen on [date/time/location]."

9. Our team is free of discrimination. 

If there’s the risk of discrimination in the workplace, human rights legislation in Canada requires that you take action to stop it. See Potential legal concerns for more information. 

To be preventative, the Implicit bias workshop can help each team member safely recognize how they may be unintentionally biased against others, and how that bias may show up as microaggressions, stigma or discrimination. If you don’t have time for the workshop, there are team activities that you could use, including Intersectionality and Microaggressions.

If the issue is larger than your team, you may want to facilitate a workshop on Organizational culture which will include discussion about values, being part of a community, accountability, trust and diversity.

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that there may sometimes be discrimination here. This is never acceptable. I would like all team members to reflect on what may be or feel like discrimination and share these answers anonymously with me through [the anonymous method*], where you don’t have to share any identifying information. I also encourage anyone who has experienced discrimination at work to come and see [me or the appropriate person] so that [I or they] can immediately address this situation."

or

"Some of you shared that there may sometimes be discrimination here. This is never acceptable. We’re going to come together to learn more about how that might happen unintentionally and how we can do better. This one-hour Implicit bias workshop will happen on [date/time/location]."

10. I feel comfortable speaking up when I don’t agree with my team members. 

Setting the foundation for how a team interacts, especially when there’s a difference of opinion, is critical. Psychologically safe interactions is a workshop you can facilitate to help you do this. Implicit bias is another workshop that can be helpful where one or more people on the team have different experiences or perspectives that may not be heard or valued equally. 

Sometimes the reason people don’t feel safe speaking up has more to do with their own comfort level than with the responses of others. The activity What were you thinking? helps your team members consider whether their assumptions about others are objective. You can also use the activity Communicate with clarity to help team members gain confidence that what they intend to say is less likely to be misinterpreted. 

Explore further
If this is an area you want to address, consider following up with your team members for more insight, adapting the suggested wording below:

"Some of you shared that you don’t always feel comfortable speaking up when you disagree with a team member. This may be because of the reaction of team members to a difference of opinion, or because you never feel comfortable disagreeing. Or it may be something else. We want to support healthy and respectful debate to help us consider our blind spots and improve our ability to innovate. I need your help in understanding what training or resources we need to make this comfortable for everyone.  Please use [this anonymous method*] to share what might make it uncomfortable for you or any of your colleagues to speak up when they don’t agree with a team member."


* Note: The term "anonymous method" refers to a specific approach the leader has in place to gather feedback without any identifying information. Some approaches include an online platform, suggestion boxes, online surveys, or a dedicated team email address that will not identify the sender. Be sure to replace “[this anonymous method*]” in the “Explore further” suggested wording with clear instructions on how they can provide their feedback anonymously.

Additional resources

We are always adding new resources. Please check out our sections on Inclusion strategies for leaders and Team building for tools that might be helpful.

Contributors include.articles(Dakota/Saulteaux/Nêhiyaw/Métis)Adam NeponAdriana LeighAlex Kollo Coaching and ToolsAngeline S. Chia, ICF Coach, IDI QA, M.Ed.(HRD)Annastasia LambertBrooke LindenDavid K. MacDonaldDayna Lee-Baggley, Ph.D., R. Psych.Dr. Heather StuartEkua QuansahErin DavisJade PichetteJune BuboireKerry GreeneLindsay BissettMary Ann BayntonMike SchwartzNancy J. Gowan,B.H.Sc. (O.T.), O.T. Reg. (Ont.), CDMPNicole StewartRuthann WeeksTanya SinclairTiana Field-RidleyValerie Pruegger, Ph.D.Workplace Strategies team 2022 to present

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