Like non-punitive reporting in the 1980’s, today the concept of Psychological Safety has become popular within corporate enterprises. How do we create an environment where individuals, both managers and staff, feel free to bring forth observations and ideas? How do we eliminate a culture of fear, replacing it with a culture of openness? It’s even said that we want our employees to feel free to bring their “whole self” to work.
Psychological Safety is sometimes confused with the concepts of workplace justice. The Just Culture is about designing a system of workplace accountability that is “just.” And, paradoxically, it sometimes creates the opposite of psychological safety. After all, we don’t want our employees to bring to work some aspect of their “self,” from racism to obnoxious table manners – leave that at home, we say. Instead bring your “better self” to work.
Workplaces are meant to be aspirational. They are collections of human beings working toward a common goal, while they all come from different backgrounds, different beliefs, and different baggage. That said, we can create the proper level of psychological safety without creating an unaccountable, everything goes, workplace. To do so, organizations must develop a values-centric system of workplace justice. We call it a Just Culture.