Taking to the wellbeing stage on Day Two of UNLEASH America 2023 was Capital One’s Maureen Jules-Perez. She serves as the head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at the financial services giant.
Jules-Perez kicked off her session by declaring that the key to psychological safety is leaders being real and authentic.
It is okay to make mistakes, so long as you learn from failure and ‘fail forward’ – leaders need to role model this behavior if they want to build trust and accountability.
When people feel comfortable “you increase that dialogue because [people] realize they are valued and they are trusted” – and then that creates a cycle of innovation and ultimately drives business success.
“You want the greatest people, the most brilliant minds to show up to tell you what you don’t know”, stated Jules-Perez.
Being curious and vulnerable, as well as taking feedback is so important here. Leaders need to think about what they would feel like if they were excluded, and make sure no-one else feels that way – ever.
A roadmap to psychological safety
While leaders may think they are driving psychological safety – and that belonging and inclusion is happening at their organization – they must not assume that everyone else feels that way.
This is where the listening piece comes in – create spaces for people to come together, share their ideas without fear of failure. But the next thing is to create a roadmap and really communicate the work that HR team is doing to make a more psychologically safe workplace.
Of course, some of these decisions may be unpopular – this is something that the Office of Personnel Management’s Janice Underwood focused in on in her session on Day One at UNLEASH America 2023.
But “the punchline is to be transparent”, especially when it comes to any kind of change. Tell them why you’re making that decision, but continue to listen and learn from their feedback.
Going back to OPM’s Underwood – the world of work doesn’t stay the same, things are always evolving, so don’t rest on your laurels – always be learning.
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