Psychological safety refers to a belief held by a team member that they will not be punished or humiliated for voicing their ideas, mistakes, questions or concerns. In an organisation, this translates to employees being able to communicate openly with their colleagues and leaders about their views and provide feedback, as well as being transparent about challenges faced in their work (including any mistakes and shortcomings). This is met with a productive and supportive response from management, encouraging reflection and development.
There are four stages to achieving psychological safety:
Psychological safety stems from good management practices, and so is built by the leaders of an organisation. At Michelmores, this includes adopting consultative leadership behaviours, which is achieved through “Unleashed” programmes aimed at all leaders, focusing on building the skills and mindsets to better equip them to have conversations within their teams to inspire innovation, collaboration and learning.
The firm is also very concerned and supportive of team members’ wellbeing both as employees and individuals, and has recently introduced Wellbeing Champions, who are committed to promoting positive wellbeing and more open conversations around mental health. Team members are also encouraged to scrutinise their work and reflect on opportunities for improvement through ‘Continuous Conversations,’ which is a great opportunity to sit down with Team Leaders to celebrate achievements and discuss learning points. All this is conducive to a positive team climate and psychological safety.
As a Trainee, you regularly move between teams and start working with Solicitors who are experts in their fields. It may therefore seem daunting to speak up as you may feel like your ideas will not add much value to the team, however, you are always encouraged to voice your ideas, criticisms, and concerns by your supervisors. For example, in my previous seat, it was very common to have a meeting solely focused on discussing complex matters where we would brainstorm ideas as a team and try and come up with different strategies to conclude the matter in the most efficient way. This was a great opportunity for me to ask questions, ‘think outside the box,’ and also contribute to my team. Knowing that my ideas were considered and appreciated gave me the confidence to speak up more whenever I was unsure of anything.
As Trainees, we also have the advantage of observing how different teams operate, so we are able to pick up certain skills from each team, using our experiences from previous seats to contribute to our current teams, which is always appreciated by the Team Leaders.
If you have any questions about how psychological safety is encouraged at Michelmores, please get in touch with any of our trainees or with Georgie Lewis from our Graduate Recruitment team.