All humans want to feel safe. They need to feel they belong, are cared for and valued at work. Leaders who provide purpose and a trusting environment are in the best position to offer a sense of safety.
People feel safe when they can trust their relationships without concerns over politics, personalities and resentments. They want to know their relationships will last and grow stronger. Employees who feel safe invest in the team dynamic and perform better.
Leaders build a strong culture when they emphasize relationships and set an example. When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss the importance of showing interest in your people, and emphasizing that everything done within your organization is built on relationships.
In the organizations where I consult, I see leaders who foster a sense of belonging build strong cultures. In The Culture Code (Bantam Books, 2018), Daniel Coyle offers the following strategies:
- Receive people’s ideas and proposals with an open mind. Make them feel glad for contributing, not regretful. Let their voice be heard, and remind them that you need their ideas because their perspectives have value.
- Express thanks, which affirms the importance of relationships and provides motivation. If everyone’s efforts are important, a healthy codependency and unity develop.
- Accept bad news, and don’t shoot messengers. People who face threats for being truthful will learn to be silent. This kills a culture.
- Roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Leaders who place themselves above ordinary tasks erect barriers. When everyone is equally willing to contribute, teamwork expands and a sense of safety prevails.
- Don’t pad bad news with good. Beating around the bush or hedging your delivery signals disingenuousness, which spells danger. Say it like it is, but do so sincerely and considerately. Being truthful tells people you have their best interests at heart.
What do you think? How do you provide safety in your organization? Do people have a sense that they are cared for, valued and belong? How does this affect your culture? I’d love to learn how you answered. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.