At a campus I once worked on many years ago, the company proudly displayed a sign: “X days without an accident.” But rather than create a loving culture, efforts like this actually spread fear. The core of this issue is what Harvard scholar Amy Edmondson has called psychological safety. Psychological safety means employees feel safe to express concerns and admit mistakes. It’s critical to creating a culture of love and support for your employees.
Now imagine that you work for a company with a “days since accident” sign. If you’re the person who had an accident, how would you feel about resetting the counter? You’d probably be embarrassed—perhaps enough to avoid reporting the incident. When people are afraid to disclose mistakes, they fail to share any lessons they learned. In keeping that information to themselves, they doom their colleagues to make similar mistakes. Meanwhile, in a culture of love, teams share their failures without fear. If your team withholds information, encourage them to speak openly. Shift the focus from blame to learning. Create a supportive culture that rewards transparency.
When your team members feel psychologically safe, you will all grow together.