Culture by Design is Now ---- The Leader Factor

How to Build Contributor Safety

Can you create value for your team? Contributor safety satisfies the basic human need to make a difference and offer meaningful contributions. When we create contributor safety for others, we empower them with autonomy, guidance, and encouragement in exchange for effort and results.

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How to Build The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety

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Episode Show Notes

Can you create value for your team? Contributor safety satisfies the basic human need to make a difference and offer meaningful contributions. When we create contributor safety for others, we empower them with autonomy, guidance, and encouragement in exchange for effort and results. 

Listen in as hosts Tim and Junior discuss how to build Stage 3: Contributor Safety individually, within a team, and throughout an organization.

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Episode Transcript

0:00:08.8 Junior: Welcome back everyone, to the Leader Factor. I'm Junior here with my co-host, Dr. Tim Clark, and today we will be covering stage three in our four part series on the four stages of psychological safety. The third stage in the four stages is contributor safety. So we've talked about inclusion, safety, we've talked about learner safety. Now we're moving to this one, contributor safety. So we've gone up in respect. We've gone up in permission, and we've graduated from the first two stages. Graduate is probably not the the right word.

0:00:42.3 Tim: You never graduate.

0:00:43.4 Junior: You never graduate.

0:00:44.7 Tim: No. You just add.

0:00:46.2 Junior: We add.

0:00:47.9 Tim: Yeah. It's cumulative.

0:00:48.0 Junior: We're adding stage three, contributor safety. So to recap where we've been, we've talked about what psychological safety is, a culture of rewarded vulnerability. We've talked about stage one, inclusion safety, that it is a right, it's an obligation that we owe other people. Learner safety, which falls into the same category. We want to reward acts of vulnerability in the learning category, asking questions, making mistakes, admitting that we were wrong. Now, in contributor safety, it's fundamentally different, which we're going to get to. Contributor safety is a new realm. It's the performance realm, which I'm excited to talk about.

0:01:27.5 Tim: Junior, I wanna just recap just a little bit about the different needs that we are satisfying as we move through the stages. So I think it's important to recap that a little bit. Stage one, inclusion safety. What need are we trying to satisfy, to be accepted, to be included, and to gain a sense of belonging. So fundamental, this is why it's the foundation. It's the first stage. We build everything on top of that. So we have to satisfy that need and these are the belongingness needs. Then we go to stage two, which is learner safety. What's the need that we're trying to satisfy, to learn and grow and develop mastery?

0:02:11.0 Tim: That's different. So it's a second category of need that we're now trying to satisfy. Now we go to stage three, which is contributor safety. And again, it's a different need that we're trying to satisfy to be able to contribute and to have an appropriate level of autonomy. So isn't it interesting that we're satisfying different categories of need as we progress through the stages?

0:02:33.7 Junior: Yeah. And it seems so natural. One of the things I wanna call out is that it does seem obvious that we move through these stages. Yet this is a fairly new contribution to the research literature. Before it was looked at as largely binary. You have it or you don't. We're saying yes. And it happens through four stages and by degree. So you can have it or you can't have it, but there's a big chasm in between.

0:03:05.2 Tim: Yes.

0:03:05.3 Junior: You may be somewhere in the middle.

0:03:06.0 Tim: That's right.

0:03:08.1 Junior: So let's recap this slide. The threat detection slide that we've now seen for the third time. Why is it in here for a third time? Because we think it's important for the third time. Threat detection is something that we all engage in all the time because we're humans and human interaction is a vulnerable activity. If our acts of vulnerability are punished, we move into survival mode. We give fear responses, we withhold our discretionary effort. We do the minimum amount required, and we try to make it through. Just get by. Alternatively.

0:03:40.9 Tim: Well, you're playing defense.

0:03:40.9 Junior: You're playing defense.

0:03:43.2 Tim: You've been thrust into a defensive routine. You're withdrawn, you've retreated, you're recoiling, you're managing personal risk.

0:03:52.5 Junior: On the other side, we have performance response. This is what happens when our acts of vulnerability are rewarded. Now that we're in stage three, contributor safety, those acts of vulnerability now have to do with performance, our actual contribution. So in inclusion safety, it may be showing up, it may be introducing yourself. In stage two, it might be asking a question. Stage three is now performance. We are on the field. We are in the game. We're trying to make a difference. Contribution is also a vulnerable activity because now we're graded, so to speak. We're going to be looked at through the lens of performance, and we're going to be told this is good, this is not. And that in and of itself, our contribution is an act of vulnerability.

0:04:42.5 Tim: Junior, let's just talk a little bit about the sequence between stage two learner safety and stage three contributor safety. So isn't it interesting that preparation stage two, learner safety, precedes performance, which is stage three, contributor safety. That's a natural sequence. So we can think about it linearly. So preparation, leading to performance, but then it really, in life, it becomes a cycle where we go around and around and around, we prepare, and then we perform learner safety. We need that. And then we need contributor safety to be able to perform. And so that never stops.

0:05:22.5 Junior: Never stops. Here is the definition, contributor safety satisfies the basic human need for autonomy and contribution. You feel safe and are given the opportunity and role clarity to use your skills and abilities to make a difference. So those highlights are, in my opinion, the most important parts, autonomy and contribution to make a difference. Now, if you go and you ask people, Hey, which stages of psychological safety would you like? Most of them are gonna say all of them.

0:05:53.9 Tim: Yeah.

0:05:54.6 Junior: If you ask them, would you like to move from stage two to stage three? Yes. Would you like to be in a perpetual state of preparation? No.

0:06:03.5 Tim: No.

0:06:04.5 Junior: We don't wanna stay there. We wanna learn, we want to get up to speed. We want to develop our skills, but then we wanna go make a difference. And how do we wanna make a difference? With autonomy. That's an important contribution to this whole equation. If you pull out autonomy, people are gonna say, I actually not very interested in that situation. If we're going to lean into micromanagement, and you're gonna be all over me all the time. We talked about the, about coaching and accountability in the previous series, and we talked about transferring ownership and critical thinking. People want to make that leap. They want to own the outcome. They want to be responsible for the critical thinking. If they're aspiring for more. If they want to achieve high performance, those are the types of patterns that they're going to have.

0:06:48.9 Tim: We need to point out, Junior, there's a linear, lemme see if I can, I'll put a pencil on this even. There's a positive correlation between autonomy and contribution, because autonomy enables contribution. So they are positively correlated with each other. But as you said, autonomy is not free. Autonomy is given in exchange for results and performance. So it's not an entitlement, it's not a human right. This is not stage one inclusion safety, where you are entitled to inclusion based on your human status and not presenting the team with the threat of harm. This is not that; you have entered the performance zone. You need to, you will be granted an appropriate level of autonomy based on your performance and the results that you deliver. And that is as it should be.

0:07:46.5 Junior: And that takes us to the social exchange, autonomy with guidance in exchange for performance and results. So if we go back up here, you say, oh, well, there's this relationship between autonomy and contribution. It's reciprocal, but where does it start? It starts with contribution.

0:08:06.6 Tim: Right.

0:08:07.6 Junior: Right.

0:08:08.2 Tim: Yeah.

0:08:08.7 Junior: You're gonna have a little bit of autonomy in order to do the actual thing, but any measurable, meaningful autonomy will come through a track record.

0:08:18.9 Tim: Track record.

0:08:20.4 Junior: You have to perform, you have to give me evidence that you've earned the autonomy.

0:08:21.9 Tim: You gotta deliver the goods.

0:08:24.0 Junior: And then also incumbent upon me is the delivery of the autonomy as soon as I see evidence of the contribution and performance.

0:08:34.5 Tim: So what is micromanagement? Micromanagement is withholding autonomy when a person is ready for it, when they've, when they have a demonstrated track record of performance, they can take on more responsibility, they can deliver the results. But you're still withholding the autonomy.

0:08:50.7 Junior: Yeah.

0:08:51.4 Tim: That's what micromanagement is.

0:08:54.0 Junior: Yep. So this is where this part becomes really important in the model. This permission right here, think of this as autonomy in this case, the way that we are describing it. So where otherwise we would be over here in contributor safety. If permission goes down, where are we gonna be? We're gonna fall this way, right, into paternalism. If we fall the other way and respect isn't there, we're gonna fall into exploitation. So again, it's important that these levels are equally distributed, that we're moving up the ladder appropriately, and that we're not withholding the permission necessary for someone to do their job. That micromanagement piece as it relates to autonomy, really important. You have to pay attention to that.

0:09:45.9 Tim: Well, I think it takes, I think what it takes us back to the specific definitions of respect and permission that pertain to stage three contributor safety. So let's take a look at these definitions. So the definition, in fact, I'm gonna get a highlighter here. The definition of respect is respect for the individual's innate need. I'm acknowledging that you have a human need for autonomy and contribution and even recognition to go with it. And then the definition of permission is permission for the individual to work with appropriate autonomy and independence. So those are definitions that are specifically connected to stage three contributor safety. We have to acknowledge the need and then provide appropriate autonomy for the person to be able to contribute.

0:10:44.4 Junior: Yeah. Let's give an example. This is Michelangelo, who's been asked to contribute to a really big project. [laughter] We did a podcast on this a while ago. And we will link that because there's really cool context that we don't have time for today. But Michelangelo is being asked to contribute to an important project. We'll leave it at that. Here's what he says in response to the invitation. And further, if I'm to do any work for your holiness, I beg that none may be set in authority over me in matters touching my art, I beg that full trust may be placed in me and that I may be given a free hand. What's your response to this?

0:11:32.1 Tim: Accent on the words free hand? Right. So Michelangelo, he's having a bad day. He's frustrated. Why is he frustrated? This is a man that has a track record, to put it mildly.

0:11:45.7 Junior: Implicit in the invitation, I might add.

0:11:52.4 Tim: And he's saying, can you give me a little room, a little leeway, a little creative license here? Like, I kind of know what I'm doing and I kind of have a track record, and so can you back off and let me do my job? I think that's what he's saying.

0:12:12.8 Junior: I agree. 1524, humans have been wanting autonomy for at least 500 years.

0:12:20.0 Tim: Yeah.

0:12:20.9 Junior: So I think from the beginning of time, people want to contribute. And that's another thing that we'll show in the next slide. But this makes me think a whole bunch about the people that I interact with day-to-day at work.

0:12:37.5 Tim: Yeah.

0:12:38.0 Junior: I beg that none may be set in authority over me in matters touching my art. How many people do I think have said that to me implicitly? They wouldn't phrase it that way. But in matters touching my art, I've been thinking a little bit about that particular piece of the text.

0:12:54.6 Tim: Anyone who says that takes pride in what they do.

0:12:58.4 Junior: Exactly. And in his case, it's literal art.

0:13:02.5 Tim: It is.

0:13:05.1 Junior: But for so many others, what they do is their own art.

0:13:07.7 Tim: It is. It's their craft.

0:13:12.2 Junior: And so they're saying exactly that. Back off a little bit. This is kind of my domain. And not in a negative or a territorial way, but like, Hey, you know, gimme a little bit of space. You asked me to come here to contribute in this way. That's what I'm trying to do. So I'm gonna need a little bit of breathing room.

0:13:32.0 Tim: But if you say back off, that implies that you know what you're doing and you can perform...

0:13:34.5 Junior: Hopefully.

0:13:35.8 Tim: And you can deliver the results. Otherwise you can't say that.

0:13:38.6 Junior: Yeah. Otherwise you could, but we won't take you seriously. And if you do and you are good at what you do, then we absolutely should back off.

0:13:47.1 Tim: That's right.

0:13:49.1 Junior: So that part is really important. And I can't stress that enough. Autonomy is not owed to you. It's not owed to you. It is earned. That's a piece of psychological safety that a lot of people do not understand.

0:14:02.7 Tim: Yeah. There's some misinterpretation and misapplication with that.

0:14:06.3 Junior: Massive, this is a huge failure pattern. This is crucial.

0:14:11.8 Tim: Some people think you get unearned autonomy. As of, as related to psychological safety, that it's somehow anoint you with more autonomy than you otherwise or that you had before. That's not true.

0:14:25.2 Junior: No. We make the distinction between participation rights and decision rights. Everyone has the right to participate and that they can weigh in, they can give their point of view. Not everyone is entitled to just unilaterally make some decision or go affect some piece of the business. That's not how this works.

0:14:44.5 Tim: You have this newfound freedom, as a function of psychological safety. No. So we need to be clear about this. This is the performance zone. Stage three contributor safety.

0:14:55.5 Junior: So this social exchange is something that we all should write down, autonomy with guidance in exchange for performance and results. So this becomes practical in a coaching situation and a leadership scenario where someone might ask, well, how much autonomy should I give this person? Well, how much autonomy have they earned? If they've earned whatever level of autonomy, do that and a little bit more and see what they do with the extra.

0:15:30.7 Junior: If they then perform and continue to demonstrate a great track record, we give more and more and we move to outcome level accountability, where now you have a whole bunch of autonomy that you have earned and that you can now enjoy. And so this is something that I think leaders should be explicit about with their people and say, this is what we're doing right now. The social exchange. This is what you and I are engaged in. This autonomy that you so desire, I will happily give you when I get performance and results. Here's another failure pattern. Guidance, right? We're gonna talk about the failure patterns a little bit later, but if there's not an appropriate level of guidance, we set ourselves up for failure.

0:16:13.7 Tim: That's true.

0:16:15.6 Junior: Okay. Let's get into the hunger, human hunger for meaning. Walk us through this slide, Tim. Do you remember? Do you remember this?

0:16:23.9 Tim: Yeah. Yeah, I do. So we did an employee survey a little while back, and it was global. And we asked a question, in life generally, do you find more satisfaction from contribution or consumption? That was the question. In life generally, do you find more overall satisfaction from contribution and consumption? Well, there are the results, and they're pretty stark, pretty astonishing, really.

0:17:01.9 Tim: It's no contest. 98% said contribution. 2% said consumption. Now, we're not saying that consumption is not an important part of life. Certainly it is. What we're talking about is the source of satisfaction. And so what these results show us is that humans are built for purpose. They hunger for meaning. They want to make a meaningful contribution. They want to make a difference. They want to do work that matters.

0:17:34.4 Junior: Yeah. 98%. Would you have guessed that?

0:17:37.0 Tim: No. It was a surprise.

0:17:41.9 Junior: I know, 98% is overwhelming. So let's dive into the three failure patterns inside this social exchange. So autonomy with guidance and exchange for results. How do we trip this up? What do we see inside organizations that we work with when we coach executives? What are the failure patterns? They're these. Now these are the three buckets. So if the social exchange is autonomy with guidance and exchange for results, those are the three variables that can get messed up. We don't give appropriate autonomy. Now, how can you mess this one up? You give too much or too little.

0:18:18.6 Tim: Yeah.

0:18:20.3 Junior: So if you give too much autonomy, how is that a failure pattern? If you're giving it, when you do not have a demonstrated track record of performance, that's a mistake.

0:18:33.6 Tim: Right.

0:18:35.0 Junior: On the flip side, when you give too little and there is the demonstrated track record, that's a mistake. So how would you gauge someone's ability to deal with more autonomy? When have they demonstrated that they've earned more? Or when should we take it away? How should a leader look at this idea of autonomy with their people?

0:18:57.0 Tim: Well, I think it's ongoing, Junior, but you're looking at the track record over time. You are applying the accountability model that we use that shows task level is the basic level, and then we go up to process, and then we go up to outcome. And as you said, when they get to a certain point, you want them to continue to grow, so you're gonna give them a little bit more. Sometimes you even over delegate a little bit because you're not sure how much they can handle, but you think that maybe they can handle it. So if you're managing risk prudently around them, then you can take that chance and then you can... If it doesn't quite work out, you can bring it down a little bit, so you're not gonna know for sure. The point is that you're paying attention to where they are, what they've done, how they've performed, and you're willing to try to accelerate their development to the next level.

0:19:51.5 Junior: One thing that I'll add to that is that that process doesn't have to be done behind a curtain. It doesn't have to be done behind closed doors and be mysterious. It's something that you and I can sit down about and say...

0:20:05.4 Tim: You think you can handle this?

0:20:05.5 Junior: Do you think you can do this? Really? And the person might say, yeah, I think so. Great. Well, I'm gonna give a little extra autonomy than I normally would, and we'll see how it goes. I have confidence that you can do it, and I really hope that it goes well. Awesome. Now let's talk about guidance number two. We don't give appropriate guidance. What does appropriate guidance look like? This is a tough one to answer because it varies.

0:20:29.2 Tim: Yeah, it does.

0:20:30.1 Junior: It varies depending on the situation and the person.

0:20:31.3 Tim: The person.

0:20:32.8 Junior: The history. But this is probably, hmm, ah, maybe I'll put these in order at the end as to which ones I think are the most common. But this is a common one, and this one is more pernicious than it seems. You may say as a leader, well, I just I want to transfer autonomy to the person. Great. But that doesn't let you off the hook from giving guidance.

0:20:57.0 Tim: You can't go be an absentee landlord now.

0:21:00.7 Junior: No. Yet many leaders do. And they say, well, I've given autonomy. That's great. The person can go and just run with it. If they don't have the guidance, the appropriate tools and objectives and understanding of the situation, it's going to be very difficult for them to be successful. And so this is a mistake that I've made personally in that the person has demonstrated an ability to perform. I've given some autonomy, and then I just go and do whatever else.

0:21:27.1 Tim: Just kinda let 'em go.

0:21:28.3 Junior: I was gonna do.

0:21:29.3 Tim: Yeah. And I've done it too.

0:21:31.2 Junior: Right. Because I have other stuff to do. And great. That's gonna be taken care of. And then come to find out that there should have been more guidance. And that was on me.

0:21:38.9 Tim: That's right.

0:21:40.2 Junior: I needed to sit down and clarify and say, Hey, here are some expectations. Let's meet about this in three days. Let's have another check in here. Let's write down the objectives. What are the criteria for success? How do we deal with this like we would a normal pilot, and just make sure that we have check marks and milestones and just countermeasures to make sure that things are as they should be, and that the person feels supported. Even if it's just a quick call to say, Hey, is everything going okay on this front? What can I do? Right. Oh, well, I had a question about this thing. Just giving voice to that, giving time and space for them to say, Hey, I've got a question about this, is so important, because if you don't, and then the deliverable comes through and it's not as you expected, that's on you.

0:22:23.4 Tim: So, if you're a manager, Junior, this is a kind of a diagnostic question for all of our viewers and listeners, you need to ask yourself, what's your tendency? Do you tend to give too much autonomy or too little autonomy? Right, which way do you lean with your tendency? What's your inclination?

0:22:45.0 Junior: I think it's a great question.

0:22:50.2 Tim: Very important that you understand that you have a sense of self-awareness to understand your inclination as far as that goes.

0:22:55.2 Junior: And then hedge against whatever the weakness is.

0:23:00.4 Tim: That's right.

0:23:01.3 Junior: Right. Try and lean toward the opposite. Or when you're dealing with a situation where you have an opportunity to make a choice. Understand your default leaning.

0:23:08.0 Tim: That's right.

0:23:09.8 Junior: And say, okay, I'm aware of this. Let's make sure to put another calendar event on the books. Or let's take one off.

0:23:16.7 Tim: Yeah. That's right.

0:23:18.9 Junior: Number three, we don't give appropriate accountability. We don't hold people appropriately accountable. This one can be really hard for leaders. If we hold people too accountable on the minutiae, then we can micromanage very easily. If there's no accountability, then we can move into this state of absence where everything is fine. We talk about the buddy box in the last series. A lot of these failure patterns have to do with some of the principles we spoke about in the last series. But accountability can be a tough one. What do you think makes accountability hard for managers?

0:24:00.0 Tim: I think the biggest failure pattern is at the beginning. Failing to create and establish clear expectations at the beginning. That's the killer. And we see it over and over again.

0:24:13.9 Junior: I agree. If I had to point to one thing that is the most common failure pattern across all of these three, it would be accountability as it relates to expectations. I think that that is the silent killer. The inability to do that means that there's an inability to do leadership. If you can't hold people accountable, that's a problem. And to what do you hold them accountable? The expectations that are set at the beginning and to what should they buy into at the very beginning, those expectations. So how do you overcome this? One of the things that I've found to be most useful is to let the person dictate the expectations themselves, to which they wanna be held accountable. And you're just party to that, right? Now You may give some information, you may give some guidelines and set some high level expectations, but then put it on the person.

0:25:06.8 Junior: What do you think are realistic expectations as it relates to the scope and the timeline? What are your expectations as it relates to quality? What kind of quality you think we're looking for in this piece of work? Right. Well, I think this and this and this. Great. Does that sound reasonable to you? Yes, it does. Excellent. We write all of that down. Here are the expectations. Now we get to hold them accountable to those. Right. How do you think you did relative to the expectations that we set at the beginning? I'm not bearing down at the beginning of that conversation saying this didn't meet the expectations when there were none. Or these didn't meet the expectations because of this and this and this. You let the person hold themselves accountable because what are you trying to do at the end of the day, you're trying to transfer that anyway.

0:25:49.3 Tim: That's right.

0:25:49.9 Junior: You don't wanna have to be there all the time holding the person accountable to whatever the expectations are. You wanna help them do that so that they can grow and progress, so that they can help to do that for other people. So it's an appropriate amount of delegation and it's a collaborative process. It's transparent, it's communicative. If it's not any of those things, you're gonna find yourself in one of these buckets.

0:26:11.9 Tim: So giving appropriate accountability, Junior, comes back to coaching, comes back to transferring ownership, comes back to transferring critical thinking. And we all know that at the beginning clarity is your friend. Ambiguity is not your friend. We know that.

0:26:29.5 Junior: No, it's a killer.

0:26:29.8 Tim: Right from the beginning.

0:26:32.4 Junior: Okay. Let's get into the practical, communicate tradeoffs. This is one of several dozen behaviors from the behavioral guide.

0:26:42.8 Tim: So this is suggestion number one.

0:26:43.0 Junior: Yeah. Suggestion number one, communicate tradeoffs. In the behavioral guide, I think it's keep focus with tradeoffs. I changed it to communicate because effective execution, effective innovation is based almost entirely on tradeoffs. So if we take this at a macro level and say, okay, trade-offs, what's trade-offs about? It's the idea of finite resource. We're allocating scarce resource.

0:27:15.5 Tim: That's right.

0:27:16.0 Junior: We don't have infinite amounts of all of the things that we might want. So we have to make choices about where we allocate and what we do. Now why is communicating those trade-offs important in your mind?

0:27:26.1 Tim: Well, because I have an idea about what the trade-offs are, but you may have a different idea about what they are. So that's number one. If we have a different view about where the trade-offs lie, we need to surface that. Number two, ultimately we need to come to agreement about the trade-offs and about the decisions that we're gonna make based on the trade-offs, and then we go forward.

0:27:52.4 Junior: Yeah. I've seen this especially lately, as something increasingly important on our team. Our team has a tendency to work hard and long and just get after it. We have lofty aspirations. We are trying to make a real difference. Right. Our organizational mission is to influence the world for good at scale. That's not a passive.

0:28:18.4 Tim: That's not very modest.

0:28:19.2 Junior: It's not... It's not... Normally you might call a modest ambition. But we mean it, right? We're out here to influence. We're out here to do good. And we still have trade offs to make. If we don't communicate those trade-offs, then it becomes and more than it is or. That's a dangerous thing organizationally. Well, we're gonna do this and this and this and this and this other thing. Where we need to say, or a little bit more. We're going to do this thing or this thing. This is going to be done now or later and communicate across the whole team and collaborate about those trade-offs. What do you all think? Here are the options. Some of these are mutually exclusive or they should be. What are we going to do? Your ability to say no is really important with communicating trade-offs.

0:29:10.9 Tim: Well, Junior, if you open any economics textbook, basic textbook, the first principle that you learn about is what? Scarcity. That's the first principle of economics, is scarcity. And then what are we charged to do in the organization? If you work on a team, you're charged to allocate scarce resources. And every time you do that, there's an opportunity cost for doing what you choose to do. You're not gonna be able to do all these other things, these foregone options. So we all need to understand... We need to go through the analysis together. We need to come to agreement together, and then we need to go execute together. If we do that, then there's a good chance that we're gonna maintain alignment and clarity as we go.

0:30:00.6 Junior: At first blush, it may seem that communicating trade-offs is outside the realm of psychological safety. What does this have to do with psychological safety and contribution? This is what I think, if we tie it all the way back in, we are trying to reward acts of vulnerability as it relates to contribution. Right. That's what we're trying to do. Communicating trade-offs is an act of vulnerability. Why? Because it's an acknowledgement of the fact that you can't do everything, that's vulnerable. If someone comes to me and says look, I really don't think we can do both of these things.

0:30:42.8 Tim: So what do you wanna do?

0:30:43.8 Junior: We've got A or B, we can't do A and B right now, that's vulnerable.

0:30:49.9 Tim: To even say that.

0:30:50.9 Junior: Yeah, it is. Because how many times out of 10 would an average manager like figure it out?

0:30:57.8 Tim: You're a superstar. You're supposed to be able to do everything.

0:31:00.1 Junior: Go figure it out. Right?

0:31:02.2 Tim: Just add to your plate.

0:31:04.4 Junior: Yeah. Just go do it. Right. What a dull instrument. Like what an unsophisticated way to view the world. So why do we want to communicate the trade-offs because that is modeling vulnerability saying, Hey team, look, we gotta take a step back here. We can't do all of these things. We got finite resource, time, energy, money, attention. We don't have all that we would love. So what are we gonna do? I don't think I can do all of the things. And the team's like okay, well, maybe that means that I can acknowledge the fact that I can't do everything either. And we get into a healthier pattern of making trade-offs communicating about that and balancing instead of trying to do all of it.

0:31:46.7 Tim: That's right. Good point.

0:31:48.4 Junior: That's how it ties in. Next one, give people the why. Give people the why. The why is exponentially important as you move down the road. If people don't understand the why, do you think that they're going to give discretionary effort? No. If they can't see where their contribution is going, no. Why would I do that? If that discretionary effort is what leads to innovation and high performance, then without the why, we're not gonna get that. You can see how quickly this becomes important.

0:32:24.2 Tim: It reminds me Junior, of the statement, the what informs, the why transforms. Why taps motivation. People need to find the why. It's what moves them off a compliance track, onto a commitment track, and it sustains their motivation, their action, their effort over time. So we can't over-emphasize that.

0:32:57.1 Junior: So how do we tie this back to psychological safety? Give the why. To me, when I look at the model, this has to do a lot with respect. If I show up to somebody.

0:33:02.8 Tim: Good point.

0:33:05.1 Junior: And I say, Hey, here's why I'm thinking this. Here's why we're making this decision. Do I have to do that? No. But what am I saying implicitly by sharing that information, that I care about what you think and what it means to you and your involvement, even if it's not a decision that you are going to weigh in on or influence in any way. If I just show up, that's a huge acknowledgement of respect.

0:33:31.4 Tim: It is. It's an affirmation. It's a validation of you as a human being.

0:33:36.3 Junior: Yeah. Hey, I just thought that this would be important for you to understand. This is the direction that we're going and here's why.

0:33:42.3 Tim: And I want you to care about it.

0:33:44.2 Junior: Yeah. I think that that's something that I could do more. Okay. Last one. Let them do it their way. This ties into autonomy. This ties into the Michelangelo quote, How? What do you think?

0:33:57.7 Tim: Well, now I have creative license, I have autonomy, I have creativity, I have independence, I have ownership, and I gotta go figure it out. And so, if I feel that there's a lot of psychological safety in that ability to do that in that creative license.

0:34:17.9 Junior: Yeah. And what's antithetical to this? My way? Right. My way is the only way. It's an acknowledgement that your way might be different than mine. And that's okay. And in many cases, yours will probably be better because it's your art, it's your domain. I only know so much, I only have so much context. Yet a common pattern of managers is to dictate their own way, and they restrict the autonomy and they say, this is the way that it has to be. So what happens on the other side? The person says, well, I guess, I don't have the autonomy to do it the way that I would like to do it. So I'm really just a channel, a mechanism of execution for the person up the chain. If you don't give that creative license, how much ownership will they take over the outcome? This is an accountability principle. If I dictate a high degree, 90%, 95% of the way that you achieve the objective. What happens when the objective goes well? Well, I can very easily take credit. That's one thing.

0:35:28.7 Tim: Well, And they're back to, you've shoved them over to compliance again.

0:35:32.6 Junior: Exactly. And if it goes wrong, the person, do you think they're gonna take ownership? No. They're gonna say, look...

0:35:41.7 Tim: It's on you.

0:35:42.7 Junior: You told me exactly what to do and this is how it went. And so where's the development in the person in that scenario? There is none. There is none.

0:35:51.0 Tim: In all of this, though. Junior, we need to qualify this a little bit. What if you are in a highly regulated environment?

0:35:57.5 Junior: Yeah. Thank you.

0:36:01.1 Tim: Okay.

0:36:01.6 Junior: Do the surgery your way.

0:36:04.5 Tim: Yeah. We're not going to allow you to follow the procedure your way in a nuclear power plant.

0:36:16.2 Junior: Yeah. I wanna flip this switch first. No.

0:36:17.8 Tim: Or take creative license with a pilot's checklist before we take off in the plane. So we acknowledge the fact that in many organizations, we work in highly regulated environments. We have to manage risk all over the place. And so we acknowledge this. It doesn't pertain to an operating environment in those cases where we know what we need to do. So we need to understand the difference.

0:36:53.7 Junior: I really appreciate you calling that out. Hopefully, that's self-evident. But if it's not, yeah, those scenarios are scenarios in which they're gonna be by the book. It doesn't mean that we can't have a debrief after the fact and think about the process holistically. But yeah, in that moment, stakes are high. Margin for error is low. We're gonna go by the book. Okay. We hope that has been helpful to you all. Stage three, contributor safety. Remember the social exchange, autonomy with guidance in exchange for performance and results. It's very, very important if you're going to be holding people accountable and leading others. Please let us know what you found most useful out of today's episode, and we will see you in stage four. Challenger Safety. Take care.


Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

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How to customize formatting for each rich text

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