It might surprise veterinary hospital leaders to read this – most of your team members are brimming with insights and ideas to help the practice improve and grow and they actually want to help! This begs the question, “Why don’t they speak up?” Often times it’s because they feel it isn’t “safe” to do so.
Turns out when we worry it is unsafe to take interpersonal risks like speaking up or speaking out, we avoid it. Shocking right? What’s more shocking is why it happens – Gallup polls show only 3 out of every 10 employees feel their opinion even matters at work.
Gallup polls show only 3 out of every 10 employees feel their opinion even matters at work.
Dr. Amy Edmundson, a professor and researcher at the Harvard Business School, coined the term “psychological safety” to address this very reality. In her TED Talk she shares the results of her groundbreaking research in which she hypothesized high performing teams must make fewer mistakes than low performing teams. Seems like an intuitive hypothesis so one can imagine her shock when the data showed the higher performing teams were actually making significantly more errors than their low performing counterparts!
Edmundson’s research uncovered a truth about high performing teams – it isn’t that they make more mistakes, it’s that they admit to and share mistakes more often, using their errors as opportunity for individuals, teams, and organizations to improve and grow. That is, they have created an environment in which it isn’t only “safe” to share and express oneself, it is encouraged. How’s that for being authentic at work?
Here’s the upside - organizations in which 6 out of every 10 employees feel their opinions matter have 27% less turnover and 12% more productivity. Without psychological safety, veterinary hospitals are quite literally leaving money on the table and watching quality team members walk out the door. Imagine what you could achieve if 100% of your team felt psychologically safe! All of a sudden you’re not stuck solving all the hospital’s problems by yourself.
Without psychological safety, veterinary hospitals are quite literally leaving money on the table and watching quality team members walk out the door.
At Flourish Veterinary Consulting we actually measure psychological safety in our partner hospitals and work closely with them to enhance it in their environments. How can you get started on growing it in your practice today? Harvard Business Review has some excellent work on simple steps any leader can take to build a psychologically safe workplace culture.
What will you do to build a psychologically safe environment for your hospital team?
- written by Josh Vaisman