Stage Two: Learner Safety


October 2, 2022



About This Episode

Stage Two: Learner Safety is part two of our four-part series based on Timothy R. Clark’s book, The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation. In this episode, Timothy R. Clark and Junior Clark answer key questions around how to create a culture where there is both encouragement to learn and engagement in the learning process.

This series is based on Timothy R. Clark’s book The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation.

You can purchase your copy here: The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety

Or download a free excerpt here: The 4 Stages Book Excerpt

What is learner safety? (2:10)
Learner safety satisfies our basic need to learn and grow. We all engage in the learning process and in that process we engage in acts of vulnerability related to learning. A culture of learner safety means those acts of vulnerability are rewarded. Learner safety always precedes contribution and contributor safety.

What is the social exchange? (6:00)
The social exchange is "encouragement to learn in exchange for engaging in the learning process". Who goes first, the team or the individual contributor in the learning process. The leader and the team have a first mover responsibility to provide the encouragement to learn. You can't assume individuals show up ready to learn. The leader sets conditions and sets the tone and it cannot be delegated. We will never grow out of our need to have encouragement to learn. There will always be some trepidation in the learning process.

The organization has an imperative to drive "learning agility". (13:43)
Learning agility means you are learning at or above the rate of change. Without learning agility your organization will slowly become obsolete. Organizations are always becoming obsolete it's just a matter of the rate of the burn.

Examples of punished learner safety. (16:51)
Learning is both intellectual and emotional. When someone shuts down our learning process we don't forget. Instances of punished learning vulnerability have lasting effects, they trigger our self-censoring instinct, and shut down the learning process. When you take punished vulnerability to learning public it becomes a nuclear weapon.

How do you balance performance with mistakes? (26:23)
How do you make mistakes allowable as fuel for learning but eliminate mistakes when the stakes are high? The key is creating a place and a time where we have room to make mistake and having clear boundaries between the execution and innovation environments. There is a difference between being on the operating table and practicing on a dummy. First define the boundaries. 

A leader/teacher's job is to transfer critical thinking and accountability. (34:38)
In order to help transfer critical thinking to the learner you must ask questions. The three types of questions are the what, why, and how questions. Part of the answer of creating learner safety is to move away from didactic questions to questions that transfer critical thinking. Learner safety is not soft or enabling but it does require good faith and intent without ulterior motives.

High learner safety is correlated with innovation. (45:45)
One of the jobs of the leader is to oil the gears of collaboration. If individual contributors have high levels of learner safety they are more likely to explore new ideas, discover new solutions, and innovate faster than the rate of change. 

What is the role of the individual in learning process? (49:37)
You are primarily responsible for your own learning and develop. You cannot rely on your organization. It is your job to become an aggressive self-directed learner. If the organization can help you, that's great. Sometimes you will have more support and sometimes you will have less. You have to take responsibility. Without aggressive learning you have "retired while on the job".

Important Links from This Episode.

Apple podcast buttonSpotify buttonGoogle podcast buttonAmazon Music button

Where Great Culture Starts

On this week's episode of Culture by Design, Tim and Junior explain the theory behind the name of the podcast. Their claim? Culture is inevitable, and whether yours is a bad one or a good one is up to you. 

November 21, 2022

Navigating Vulnerability at Work

This week's episode is a team favorite, and is definitely worth the listen. Tim and Junior talk about why the workplace is a vulnerable place, what vulnerability is, and why actively rewarding vulnerability matters. Whether you're motivated by making others around you feel comfortable at work, or you want to improve team performance, you should model and reward acts of vulnerability across The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety.

November 14, 2022

Infusing Agility Into the DNA of Your Culture with Marcelino Sanchez - [Rerun]

Rarely do organizations reward leaders for the things they stop doing. We should be excited at the prospect of simplifying processes and getting operational clarity. Clarity in creates speed. How do you create clarity and eliminate the "resistance" to organizational change? In this episode of Culture by Design, Timothy R. Clark interviews Marcelino Sanchez, Managing Principal at Agilityze on how you can infuse agility into the DNA of your culture. Originally published May 23rd, 2022.

November 7, 2022