How do you ensure there is psychological safety within your team?

We want to make sure every voice is heard and that people feel safe to raise questions within their teams.

How do we go about doing this? Are there any great or equally terrible approaches you’ve seen for this?


Everybody makes mistakes and that’s completely normal. People tend to only point those out often. So what we do is give each other shoulder pads on what we do and a lot! Especially when everyone is working from home. There is nothing more satisfying that getting a compliment on your work.

We even made a specific channel “compliments” if you randomly want to throw in a compliment also.
This really boosts our team spirit & mental health.


Terrible: forcing people.

What I’ve personally done is trying it out, testing it. I’ll be vulnerable in the retrospective and see how my team mates respond. If they respond with empathy it’s a yay. If the response is …terrible, then you’ve learned something valuable. My last team was amazing and everyone could be vulnerable, but I’ve also seen the opposite. The team would share something they didn’t like about the process and the PO and Scrum Master would tell us to suck it up. You can guess how that went with regards to feeling safe. Terrible work atmosphere and I left as quickly as I could.


Here are a few things I have done in the past to improve psychological safety in teams I work in:

  • Ask questions I might be scared of asking (in fear of looking stupid), I’ve learned that often if I’m thinking/wondering something - chances are someone else is as well.
  • Verbally support/second other people’s questions ideas at meetings. I’ve noticed that after meetings people may later say “oh that was a good idea” but then at the meeting itself, they shut up - and leave that person be all alone. So I do my best to be a support person in that way.
  • Make efforts to improve personal relationships within the team by organisnig group fikas and also reaching out to people individually
  • In group settings, knowing when to shut up and listen more - just letting people talk (at times I’ll be quiet for longer when I sense they want to say more, usually they do).

I’ve been in places where to the outside world they have done lots of social media videos etc saying how “we are a place you can be yourself”, yet not listened to employees and actually the finger pointing blame game was rife.

What I’m doing at present in my current role is giving everyone my backing to have a voice. Supporting them in discussions/meetings with people outside the team. But also encouraging healthy debate within the team and that differences of opinion are ok.

We work through things that go wrong collaboratively and try to ensure we have actions to work on to improve for next time. I’ve found that retrospectives can be really powerful at giving the team a voice and helping with actions to work on from a culture perspective too


I highly recommend using an empathy map , it’s a powerful communication tool within all team members that empower psychological safety

Reference: we got it as an input in the 21st-century skills for testers with @ardkramer.

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