Psychological Safety: Patterns from child psychology to build and strengthen safety in teams

Are you a safe pair of hands? How do you know?? People need to feel secure to explore on their own terms, learn, make mistakes and grow, and so do agile teams. But when the security to learn and fail-fast vanishes, when teams fear failure and punishment, a risk-averse culture can grow -- a culture that can destroy agile initiatives and kills continuous improvement behaviours.

Come and learn about the Circle of Security framework – a psychological research-based approach to creating psychological safety – and an example of its use to deal with agile team dysfunction, strengthen trust and help build a learning culture in teams.


Outline/Structure of the Keynote

  • Define psychological safety and trust –- applying child psychology patterns to team dynamics.
  • The cultural and personality factors that affect psychological trust -- what does hierarchy and vulnerability really have to do with feeling safe?
  • Recognise false cues from team members -- what learning and feedback loops look like, from the behavioural perspective of safety and fear, as Agile Retrospectives.
  • Strengthen team relationships -– building empathy by understanding others history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes.
  • Understand the relationship between team effectiveness and team learning -- what to do as a coach, manager or team member to build and support psychological safety
  • How to be a safe pair of hands for your agile team without devolving into micromanagement or removing their need to be self-organising.

Learning Outcome

  • The Circle of Security framework -- how leaders, coaches, managers and even team members can use the to build and support psychological safety
  • The science on the relationship between psychological safety and the learning behaviour critical to agile teams' continuous improvement
  • How to recognise team needs for trust, comfort, support and risk-taking as well as its antecedents -- fear of failure, stonewalling and defensiveness
  • Cross-cultural psychology and personality factors -- do you really need to be 'vulnerable' or is this just pop-psychology?
  • What secure attachment looks like in teams
  • What to do to build secure attachment that will underpin psychological safety within a team and reinforce learning behaviours over risk avoidance

Target Audience

Team leaders and managers, including Scrum Masters, Executives and Middle Managers

Prerequisites for Attendees

No pre-requisites for this session


schedule Submitted 3 years ago

  • Matthew Hodgson

    Matthew Hodgson - Leaders Go First: Changing Organisational Culture by Tackling the Frozen Middle

    20 Mins

    Culture, management problems and experience are amongst the most common reasons why agile initiatives fail. So how do you get managers to lead a change where they fear the erosion of their legitimate positions of power and control?

    Come and hear a practical application of cultural and behavioural change frameworks to middle managers in a large, hierarchical organisation attempting to take its first real steps toward business agility. We'll define culture, examine psychological safety from a leader's perspective, the tools and practices that helped thaw inaction, and those used to reinforce agile behaviours and its mindset.