Hello. My name is Jeannette. How are you today?”

I tried to say it Spanish. My college professor said this in English, “How about you try to pronounce it correctly this time?”

My response was equally snarky … “How about you teach me to say it correctly and I will!”

This brief interaction over 20 years ago in front of my college classmates was humiliating.  It taught me that if I wanted to improve my Spanish language skills, I’d have to do it quietly, even silently, or I would have to risk humiliation every time I opened my mouth.

Because I’m not a quitter, I put on a brave face and I chose the former. I learned quietly.

Although I passed Spanish I … and then Spanish II, I never did much with what I learned. Why? Because I learned in that brief moment over 20 years ago that it wasn’t safe to take risks under the leadership of that college professor. I got scared and became self-conscious.

Is this what your leadership is doing to your employees?

Is your sarcasm or snark humiliating your employees? Are your employees scared or too self-conscious to speak up? If yes, you have likely created a culture that lacks psychological safety.

Workplaces that lack psychological safety because of humiliation are bad for your business. Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Employees censor their best ideas. Maybe it’s a solution to a problem or something innovative they keep to themselves. Either way, when employees feel the need to censor their ideas, your business only gets pay-off from mediocre input at best. At worst, you don’t hear any input at all. Let’s not forget that when employees censor their best ideas, businesses also lose the magic that comes when employees build on each other’s ideas.
  2. Employees censor their questions. When employees don’t ask questions, they do things wrong because they don’t understand how to do things right. Also, when trying to implement change, censorship means you won’t always know if you have employee buy in. Change naturally creates fear and resistance, and when employees don’t feel safe to ask questions they cannot get the answers they need to get on board with change.
  3. Employees censor their mistakes. Not knowing about mistakes is dangerous. When you don’t know about mistakes you can’t fix them! This costs your business time and money, not to mention stripping your business of improvements that can keep you profitable and competitive.

Start here. Listen for the silence. If your employees aren’t talking, they are censoring.

If you don’t know what to do next, reach out to me. I can help.