Psychological safety - creating an encouraging and safe learning environment


Psychologically safe working and learning environment liberates more energy for the work itself. In a psychologically safe environment, it is acceptable to fail and encouraged to try again. To create such an environment, people have to feel valued and no fear of getting embarrassed or punished for making errors.

I travel to Haiti several times a year and capture the people, landscape, and beauty this country has to offer. The trip is usually based around a mission trip where I serve at Mission of Hope. I film and capture photos during my travels as well. 
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  • Situations in which you have not reached the desired performance level, try to write down the reasons for underperforming or failing as objectively as you can. Focus on describing the descisions and actions you have taken and how they could be improved. Try to avoid referring to your personality or things you cannot change.
  • In classroom training or in a workshop, it is good to explicitly encourage people to ask questions and to give recognition for doing so. Remember to praise people for having the courage to make errors in public and thus contributing to the learning process of the whole group.
  • In an online course, it can be useful to explicitly describe which modules may be new or especially challenging for participants. In addition, it can be useful to explicitly describe the prerequisites for the course in the course introduction - and what is not expected to be known beforehand.
  • When you are giving feedback about the performance of your course participants, try to focus on action points. Let your course participant know what he or she already excels in, and what could be done better - and how.

Psychological safety is an essential building block for a motivating and productive working environment. It can boost creativity and also help people to be more open about their need for support with their learning goals.

In what kind of situations do you feel of taking the feedback too personally, and how could you make those situations easier for you?

How could you encourage your team to share their failures and the need for support more openly?