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 leaner safety, we’re more willing to be vulnerable, take risks, and develop resilience in the learning process.
Conversely, a lack of learner safety triggers the self-censoring instinct, causing us to shut down, retrench and manage personal risk.
Learning involves risk. One of the most important things that you can do to build learner safety is to create a culture where you detach fear from mistakes.
When you give your teams learner safety, you’re giving them permission to overcome setbacks and find solutions without fear of failure. And really, at the end of the day, isn’t failure just progress?
If we’ve learned anything about learning, it’s that we learn in context, not in isolation. It’s the interplay of the head and the heart. We can either cultivate or crush, nurture or neglect, stimulate or stifle learner safety.
Try these eight things to introduce learner safety into your organization’s culture:
Your optimism and enthusiasm for learning is contagious. Give people the permission to learn and a reason to start by modeling passionate learning yourself.
You may have some team members that are reluctant to “learn publicly” in a group setting. Take away their learning inhibition and anxiety by choosing a neutral space.
Some people are visual learners. Some like to learn alone. Some like to learn out loud. Some are self-directed. Some hate classrooms, but love to learn on the job.
Assign a small group a real problem to solve. Provide clear objectives, a timeline, and resources for solving the problem. Adopt the suggestions if they makes sense and recognize those who participate in the process.
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 budget and dedicate time to learning.
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.
The learning potential of your team is unknown and unknowable. But you can always encourage them to level-up. Remind your team that to earn their living is to learn their living.
Model humility and ask for help from those who work outside, or under, your role. Let them teach you, which leads to increased confidence and engagement.
Explore content and resources related to each of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety™
In this episode Tim and Junior introduce the two leadership failure patterns found in The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety™ model - paternalism and exploitation. This is a very practical episode for managers and leaders but applies to anyone working with other humans.
The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety framework acknowledges that we’re humans first and employees second. The framework follows a universal pattern that reflects the natural progression of human needs in social settings. These needs exist across demographics, psychographics, nations, and cultures. Just like humans need water, food, and shelter to survive, teams that want to innovate need four things in order to thrive: they need to feel included and safe to learn, contribute, and challenge the status quo. Teams progress through these stages as they intentionally create cultures of rewarded vulnerability and psychological safety.