The Importance of Safe Spaces & Technology For High Performance Teams

Going from Good to Great

In a recent blog, I talked about diverse, safe workspaces and the impact that has on creativity and staff engagement. It was by far the most rewarding blog I have created to date and it has inspired me to investigate this topic further.

When it comes to fostering high-performance teams, there is plenty of research out there that explains that employees need a strong connection to the business’s mission, defined roles and responsibilities, clear communication and priorities, and mutual respect and trust. Those last two points are something I’d like to explore - mutual trust and respect, and being able to communicate clearly and prioritise effectively.

The importance of safe working environments

A study from 2015 had shown that high performing teams must have psychological safety at their core. This is referred to as a “blameless culture”. Team members must feel that they have the safety to be able to speak up without the fear of being ridiculed or reprimanded. This is how market-changing ideas come to the surface that would otherwise be left unsaid and disperse to the wind. This idea of creating a safe and blameless culture is one of the keys to empowering your staff to speak up and communicate clearly and with respect.

So, why are safe workspaces so important? Is this just political correctness gone mad? Well, it turns out that the desire to feel safe and connected is the evolution of our nervous system and something that is baked into us all. The brain processes a confrontation as a life-or-death threat and engages our “fight or flight” response. This is a neurological response, so if you have ever experienced this feeling (I think most of us have), you will know that critical reasoning and structured thought doesn’t just go out the window but shatters the glass that was once there. The vast majority of people are less likely to engage when how they react could negatively impact how others perceive their character or competence.

A common challenge that leaders face when bringing several high-performing individuals together as a team is that these people can struggle to connect and form bonds. Working environments that foster a blameless culture that enables people to feel psychologically safe, can improve the bond between team members that would otherwise struggle to form. 

What role does technology play in creating high-performance teams?

As mentioned earlier, the other point I’d like to explore is how clear communication and priority play a role in fostering high-performance teams. You’ve likely heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder”. Well, this also applies to how teams use modern work technology to collaborate, prioritise, and meet deadlines. The modern work technology you use receives frequent updates and changes. So, as a technology leader, you should encourage your team members to treat their technology skills as just as important as their specialist expertise and soft skills, and frequently upskill themselves to get the most out of their modern work technology.

Final thoughts

At The Instillery, we talk internally a lot about going from “Good to Great” and being human. It is said that “to make mistakes is human”, well let’s remember that in our day-to-day interactions. Every other human we interact with has their own beliefs, opinions, anxieties, and vulnerabilities, just like you and I. How we choose to respond or not respond to those around us plays a huge role in fostering a safe work environment. Learning to use the technology we have at our disposal is more important than ever in remote working environments. Giving someone a “thumbs up” or a “like” is more than just acknowledging you have seen something, it's encouraging that person to keep putting themselves out there and sharing their thoughts.