Psychological Safety: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Posted by Steph Charlesworth on Mar 10, 2023 7:32:18 PM

Off the back of our new collection launch on the psychological safety theme (If you’ve not checked them out yet, click here to see what they’re all about) we wanted to hear your experiences of when having a psychologically safe workplace, or lack thereof, has impacted you. It’s been fantastic to see you lovely lot have definitely leaned into the challenge, for which we are very grateful. Below are a few of the submissions that people kindly anonymously shared with us that highlight why this is such an important topic.

The Good

Demonstrating where having a psychologically safe place pays dividends, here are some examples of where people have felt supported and thrived as a result:

"I'm lucky to work somewhere that I feel I can honestly be myself. Having worked elsewhere and experienced some really toxic workplace cultures, all I can say is that it makes a huge difference to how you feel and your mental health! My manager is amazing. He trusts me to do my job but regularly checks in with me to make sure I'm ok. He makes me feel so supported and encouraged, and in the wider team, the culture is the same. People are open and honest and give feedback in a genuine way. I can be completely honest, share ideas without worry and admit when things occasionally haven't gone to plan without worrying that I'll be punished for it."

"I’m so grateful to work somewhere where my voice is heard. From day one, my suggestions and friendly challenges to the status quo were listened to, and in a relatively short space of time being with the company, I was able to make significant contributions and help bolster the company as it continues to grow. Having a company that is open and welcomes change is so refreshing."

The Bad

Unfortunately, it’s not always plain sailing and some of your anecdotes of when the culture hasn’t quite got it’s employees at its heart and the impact it has had are reflected:

"After many years working part time and receiving great feedback on my work, I get a new manager who tells me they won't allow me any career progression whilst I'm still working part time."

"I left my last job because I felt so overwhelmed. Even when I asked to drop one of my responsibilities I got talked into keeping it on, with a bit of extra time scheduled in for it. I ended up moving to a job where I'm listened to, and my boss encourages me to look after myself. Funnily enough my chronic illness has been much easier to manage since!"

The Ugly

And finally, when things go REALLY wrong in a workplace, how it can damage trust, create a toxic environment, and generally prevent anything positive from happening:

"I once worked somewhere with an incredibly toxic culture. The Chief Executive and several senior leaders formed a clique and it was clear that anyone who opposed their views would be frozen out. It became so toxic there, I left and, unsurprisingly, many others chose to leave too."

"In a previous job, a colleague had a meeting with a manager regarding a sign off process that had gone awry. The manager had been particularly rude, swearing and taking quite an aggressive approach. After the meeting, my colleague raised how it had made her feel with our line manager who was also in the meeting. Our line manager disagreed with her experience and excused the manager's behaviour by saying 'that's just how she is, she's like that in every meeting'.

"A few days later, my colleague was told by our line manager that the same manager had complained about her attitude and she was told that even if she went for a more senior job opportunity that was coming up, she would never get it as this manager would make sure of it."

I know many of us here at iAM have been blown away with how vulnerable you’ve all been prepared in sharing some of these stories, and it goes to show that when you shine the spotlight on something it creates the discussions and hopefully has highlighted where there is room for improvement as well as giving the chance to take a moment to be grateful for the wonderful places we now work. Have you seen your own experience reflected in any of the stories above?

Steph Charlesworth
Steph Charlesworth
Customer Delight Manager

Want to learn more about psychological safety?

If you're looking to make your workplace a happier and more productive place to be, take a look at our Psychological Safety eLearning Collection or download our FREE Psychological Safety Starter Kit, containing a range of resources to help you start creating a happier workplace culture! 

Topics: Learning & Development