Does your company support an innovative culture? Have you ever been in a group discussion at work and had an idea you wanted to share, but was afraid of how it would be received? If you don’t feel that your ideas or suggestions matter within the group dynamic, you may hold back from sharing your ideas.
In a Mashable article titled 4 Google Work Secrets, the author outlines some of the business strategies Google has employed to foster and support creativity within their employees. The research found that physiological safety was one of five of the main components required to develop a successful team.
The other four are…
- Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?
- Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
- Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
- Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?
Given that psychological safety has been shown to facilitate knowledge sharing, vitality, as well as learning, it is no surprise that it is consistently found to be one of the key ways in which teams as well as organizations can foster creativity.
I dug a little deeper and visited the Google blog post that shares in-depth information on building and fostering successful team entitled reWork. In her article, The five keys to a successful Google team, Julia Rozovsky goes into further detail about these five components.
The Key to an Innovative Culture is Trust
Overwhelmingly, the most important item for the group to be successful was that sense of trust and safety that what they shared would not be judged nor impact negatively the way people look at them.
Turns out, we’re all reluctant to engage in behaviors that could negatively influence how others perceive our competence, awareness, and positivity. Although this kind of self-protection is a natural strategy in the workplace, it is detrimental to effective teamwork. On the flip side, the safer team members feel with one another, the more likely they are to admit mistakes, to partner, and to take on new roles. And it affects pretty much every important dimension we look at for employees. Individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by executives.
Past experiences will determine the group’s future actions. When the group leader opens the discussion by saying that there are no bad or stupid ideas and yet past experience leads the participants to fear that the opposite is true, the number of ideas shared and the number of people participating will be minimal.
Google analyst Rozovsky said that the Google groups have implemented a brief touch base using the five components at the beginning of meetings to make sure that members of the team truly do feel safe.
We created a tool called the gTeams exercise: a 10-minute pulse-check on the five dynamics, a report that summarizes how the team is doing, a live in-person conversation to discuss the results, and tailored developmental resources to help teams improve. Over the past year, more than 3,000 Googlers across 300 teams have used this tool. Of those Google teams, the ones that adopted a new group norm — like kicking off every team meeting by sharing a risk taken in the previous week — improved 6% on psychological safety ratings and 10% on structure and clarity ratings.
5 Ways to Promote Creativity in the Workplace
Giannina Smith Bedford, contributing writer for the Biz Journal also wrote about this subject in her article 5 Ways to Promote Creativity in the Workplace. She offers these ideas for business leaders to consider:
- Foster an environment where creativity is valued.
- Give employees the tools and techniques to come up with new ideas.
- Make sure employees understand the company’s goals, products, and services so employees can come up with relevant, contextual ideas.
- Create a collaborative environment that spawns conversation, problem-solving and great ideas.
- Recognize, reward and celebrate great ideas.
Back to You
As you examine the team dynamics of your company, can you say that each team fosters creativity and encourages ideas? Does your company support an innovative culture? If not, you might begin to incorporate some of these ideas into your process so that team members feel safe and encouraged to offer up their unique ideas.
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JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
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