Developing a culture of Psychological safety
Psychological safety is a complex phenomenon that is influenced by organizational and individual-level factors, especially leadership in healthcare. Psychological safety means that healthcare providers can freely speak up, admit mistakes, disagree, and make suggestions without fear of humiliation or punishment (O’Donovan et al., 2019). Nurse executives who humiliate and embarrass employees abuse power and this behavior can shut down employees for a long time. Leaders must set the tone and be role models to promote learning, growth, and innovation.
To create a case of the importance of psychological safety, I will begin by elaborating on what entails psychological safety in healthcare. I will inform team leaders that psychological safety entails speaking up, owning mistakes, voicing concerns, and making suggestions without fear (O’Donovan et al., 2019). Psychological safety helps employees to focus on their tasks and provide quality care without fear. It serves as an intrinsic motivation for employees to perform tasks and try new approaches to care without holding back (Edmondson & Roloff, 2009) I will emphasize the importance of psychological safety in improving team learning. For example, employees who feel they are safe can freely share ideas with colleagues and question behavior that does not seem to benefit patients or the organization. Additionally, teams that make mistakes tend to be more successful because learning takes place compared to those that avoid mistakes (Terry, 2019). As a nurse executive, I will inform the nurse leaders about the need for employees to be innovative, creative, and free to execute orders without the fear that they will be judged.
Role of Team Leaders
Team leaders should understand that psychological safety is not limited to patient safety and can extend to the individual well-being of the healthcare provider. To ensure psychological safety, the nurse leaders should acknowledge the importance of having employees in the organization and the sacrifices they make to ensure patient safety (Gallup, 2017). Secondly, the nurse leaders should know that the most effective way to create a psychologically safe healthcare environment is through leading by example (Edmondson & Roloff, 2009). The leader must be ready to own their mistakes, be open to listening to opinions and encourage other members to suggest solutions. The team leaders must also provide feedback when issues are observed and make themselves approachable during these periods of conflict. Another key role of the leadership team is active listening and effective communication with employees (Terry, 2019). For example, the team leaders should set aside time for discussions, switch off phones in meetings, acknowledge input from employees, and communicate changes promptly.
Challenges of Working with Team Leaders
Establishing a culture of safety in healthcare is a difficult task because of diversity and other individual factors of team leaders and employees. One key challenge that I am likely to face is the commitment of team leaders to safety (Gallup, 2017). Having the strongest ability to influence leaders and observing commitment are two different things. Words alone are ineffective in leadership and achieving psychological safety must e expressed through action (O’Donovan et al., 2019). The second challenge that can be observed is gaining the trust of team leaders given that they will have to adjust to new ways of doing things. For example, some leaders believe giving employees the power to challenge decisions will lead to undesirable outcomes like insubordination. Team leaders may fear that employees will complain about their leadership skills and undermine their authority. To address these challenges, I will organize an educational session about psychological safety and effective ways of promoting this culture in the organization. I will also reassure team leaders that having employees question their decisions will not affect their authority over employees.
Edmondson, A., & Roloff, K. (2009). Leveraging diversity through psychological safety. Rotman Magazine, 1(2009), 47-51.
Gallup. (2017). State of the American workplace. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx
O’Donovan, R., Ward, M., De Brún, A., & McAuliffe, E. (2019). Safety culture in health care teams: A narrative review of the literature. Journal of Nursing Management, 27(5), 871-883. https://doi.org/10.1111/jonm.12740
Terry, P. E. (2019). Fearless health promotion and an interview with Dr Amy Edmondson. American Journal of Health Promotion, 33(4), 493-497. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0890117119841697
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