Is your workplace a psychologically safe space? 6 red flags
November 23, 2021
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Your mental health might not always be the best at work. And you could spend hours and hours learning about the top practices and tools to deal with this, but they won’t solve every single problem.
It’s like a really sharp chef’s knife. The moment you own it, you feel powerful. But the knife doesn’t make you a chef. You still need to work on your cooking skills. You have to put in hours of practise, create clear goals and have a great team.
In all the discussions I’ve had with managers, they mention that their colleagues make all the difference when it comes to creating a good culture at work. It’s key for staff to collaborate in a positive way to feel safe.
Often, it’s the most important thing.
As humans, we function better when we feel safe. Yet we don’t talk enough about feeling psychologically secure. We’ve all experienced – or at least heard stories about – passive-aggressive colleagues, bosses who ignore your requests, and coworkers who laugh at your ideas in meetings.
We’re social creatures and yet we can get so scared of interacting with other people. What are they going to think about me? What if they don’t like what I need to say? What if I get fired??
This is why finding a workplace where you feel secure is super important. But figuring out whether a job is bad for your mental health isn’t always easy.
You can, however, try to gauge it by keeping an eye out for these 6 red flags.
1. Your boss is a micromanager
Good managers are interested in the end product rather than how you get there. If you’re constantly being micromanaged, it makes you feel undermined and means you won’t have the confidence to take initiative. You’ll always feel like you can’t step outside the box and really flex your creativity.
It’s also a time drag: having to check with the micromanager that every decision you’re making is the right one causes annoying bottlenecks in projects.
2. You’re kept in the dark about important decisions
Effective managers communicate openly about how or why decisions are made. It’s unsettling to work in an environment where decisions seem arbitrary. Secretive managers and employers often make employees feel inferior and insecure.
3. Your manager fails to give credit when and where it’s due
When you do something well, does your boss take credit? This can feel like a slap in the face. Appreciation is a fundamental need at work.
4. You feel like you can’t say no
If you routinely have to cancel personal plans to accommodate last-minute deadlines and rush projects, you’re heading towards exhaustion. If you can’t say, “No, I’m not able to do this,” without fearing for your job, your situation may be untenable.
5. People don’t feel comfortable participating in meetings
When employees feel they can’t bring their full selves to work, or that they can’t reach their full potential, one place it shows is during meetings. Sometimes the awkward silences come from a fear of speaking up. Other times it’s disengagement or a lack of curiosity.
If any of these red flags crop up, it doesn’t mean your workplace is a lost cause. It just means you need to question the situation, address the issues and see how you can improve things together.
Sometimes it’s just that the situation has evolved that way over time and people will be happy to change step by step. Other times, you’ll discover a totally toxic culture and your solution will be to leave.
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