Learner Safety satisfies the basic human need to learn and grow. It allows us to feel safe as we engage in all aspects of the learning process—asking questions, giving and receiving feedback, experimenting, and even making mistakes, not if but when we make them. When we sense learner safety, we’re more willing to be vulnerable, take risks, and develop resilience in the learning process. Here are five behaviors that will help you foster an environment of learner safety.
One of the most powerful ways to encourage others to learn is to share what you are learning. Share the topic, the insights, and most importantly the joy and satisfaction you have gained in the learning process. Your optimism and enthusiasm for learning is contagious.
Teach your team to frame problems before they solve problems. When we don’t do that, we often end up solving the wrong problem. Find a problem and say, “I’d like you to help me frame this problem, not solve it. I want to make sure I’m defining the problem correctly before I try to solve it.”
In a dynamic environment, our knowledge, skills, and experience can become obsolete. Identify the times when you see this happening to you. Point it out to others. Acknowledge that you are in a cycle of unlearning and relearning.
If you talk about the importance of learning but don’t dedicate any time or resources to it, it’s really not a priority. Formally allocate some budget and dedicate some time to learning. It might be online learning, collaborative team learning, on-the-job learning, individual or team learning. There’s no perfect approach. Just make sure that you do it consistently.
It’s hard to learn from mistakes if a team has a culture that hides its mistakes. Take the opportunity to mention some of your mistakes, laugh at them, and share what you learned from them. This will encourage others to be more comfortable sharing their mistakes and trying to learn from them. Talking about failure and showing vulnerability are crucial to encourage others to learn.
To create incubators of innovation where divergent thinking, creative abrasion and constructive dissent thrive, we must learn not only to tolerate, but actually invite and welcome constructive feedback. This may feel like an unnatural act at first, but it’s a skill you can develop. Here’s how:
Challenger safety satisfies the basic human need to make things better. It’s the support and confidence we need to ask questions such as, “Why do we do it this way?” “What if we tried this?” or “May I suggest a better way?”
There’s some truth to the adage: out of sight, out of mind. If you’re a remote worker you may be wondering if this applies to you. Does the adage hold weight on our virtual teams? Are we left to the mercy of cloud-based collaboration tools to remind our employers of our existence? If we’re only “in sight” when we’re on-screen, can we still have an impact on our organizations?