How psychologically safe is this team?


In the past month, I have: Not once Once 2 – 3 times 4 times or more

1. Held back on giving a colleague honest and critical feedback


2. Felt that a helpful suggestion from me might not be received positively

3. Not admitted a mistake, which colleagues might have learned from        

4. Felt that my ideas weren’t valued


5. Been upset by a colleague’s comments


6. Avoided mentioning something for fear of “treading on a colleague’s territory”


7. Pretended I understood something I really didn’t


8. Kept silent about something that didn’t seem congruent with the team’s espoused values


9. Covered up for a colleague’s mistakes


10. Felt pressured into supporting something that didn’t seem right to me


11. Steered clear of a senior colleague, because they appeared to be in a bad mood


12. Told a white lie to “keep the peace”


13. Suspected that I wasn’t being told the whole truth, but not confronted the issue


14. Been made to feel isolated or disloyal when I questioned something outside of my area



In this team: Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree

1. Status is often more important than getting the job done


2. People often form cliques to pursue their own interests


3. It’s not a good idea to question what the leader says


4. People generally avoid honest, difficult conversations


5. Loyalty and respect are demanded, rather than earned


6. People say what they think others want to hear, not what they really think



For each item score:

0 for not once; 1 for once; 2 for 2-3 times; 3 for 4 times or more. These indicative scores are to give you a high level understanding of the team’s overall position.
Add up all the individual scores, then divide by the number of team members to get the team average score.
Be aware that some individuals may score much higher (or lower) than the team average and that you should be mindful of their individual position & psychological safety. 

As very broad indicators:

50 points or more: This team is a dangerous place to be. There are high levels of stress (significantly increased risk of heart attacks and other ailments). Politics is rife.

25 – 50 points: Lack of psychological safety contributes substantially to team dysfunction.

5 – 25 points: The team members are good at papering over the cracks. There is enough goodwill and collective focus to ensure that honest conversations happen before too much damage is done, but the team is still missing out on the benefits of a genuinely open climate.

0-5 points: Nobody’s perfect! But this team works hard to create an environment, where it’s not just OK to speak up, but where people expect and appreciate it.

Copyright – David Clutterbuck

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