A culture of innovation is one in which the workplace environment encourages employees to share creative ideas and solutions and where everyone feels confident to brainstorm and introduce new ideas. When a culture of innovation is encouraged and upheld, multiple people, teams and departments work towards creative solutions, making it easier to consistently come up with new ideas and move ideas with potential to the next stage.
Sounds great, right?!
Unfortunately, not all organizations are successful in creating a culture of innovation, because their people are afraid of making mistakes, being punished, or not encouraged to share their ideas and mistakes.
So, how can an organization achieve a culture of innovation? A good place to start is improving psychological safety. Psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.
Amy Edmondson coined the term ‘Psychological Safety’ in a 1999 journal article which explored its relationship to team learning and performance. She describes it as “the absence of interpersonal fear. When psychological safety is present, people are able to speak up with work-relevant content”. It encourages teams to view failure as an opportunity to learn and helps to provide space for diverse perspectives to be heard.
To increase psychological safety in your organization, try these steps:
1. Know where you’re at: Conducting an assessment on how your organization supports psychological health and safety can help you identify areas for improvement (we can help with that)
2. Address and improve on the 13 psychosocial risk factors: The Mental Health commission of Canada has identified 13 factors that can impact the mental health and psychological safety of employees in the workplace. Factors such as positive organizational culture, clear leadership and expectations, balance, and physical safety combine to help employees feel psychologically safe in the workplace. Find out more here.
Having employees feel comfortable bringing ideas, concerns and mistakes forward directly benefits an organization’s bottom line. Increasing psychological safety in your workplace can not only make work a safe, comfortable place to be, but also increase the probability that new, innovative ideas will be brought forward.