A recent New York Times Magazine article profiled Google’s efforts to enhance the efficiency and productivity of its teams. What Google found to be effective at work parallels what we have known for a long time about healthy forums.
Perhaps the most important point: Great teams (and great forums) ensure “psychological safety,” a sense of confidence that the group will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up. Psychological safety leads to a team or forum climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.
As your forum begins its next meeting, ask yourself and each other:
- Do I/we feel safe in this group?
- Can I share my toughest challenges and highest aspirations without feeling that I will be judged?
- Do our forum norms (the traditions, behavioral standards, and unwritten rules that govern how we function) reinforce our sense of psychological safety?