Earlier this week we discussed soft skills and why employee development in these skills might be a good investment. Later this week, two articles reveal that focusing on productive communication, kindness, and “psychological safety” does, in fact, yield tangible results.
This comes as no surprise to us, given the return on investment experienced by many clients who have purchased our programs on increasing personal effectiveness, assertive communication, leading with credibility, and more. But it’s encouraging to see what we know as the tried-and-true foundations of successful workplace culture echoed in independent research.
Let’s take a look at what these studies have found!
Improving Workplace Culture with “Psychological Safety”
A recent article in Quartz investigates years of study by Google, who began an initiative called Project Aristotle to investigate what made their teams the most productive. They found that success has less to do with the right combination of different personalities on a team but more in how those personalities are able to communicate with each other. Google used the concept of psychological safety, “a model of teamwork in which members have a shared belief that it is safe to take risks and share a range of ideas without the fear of being humiliated.” This model is encouraged and fostered, of course, by effective communication practices and empathy for different points of view.
This perspective forms the bedrock of what we do. Our programs use the DiSC personality profile as a tool for understanding our personal habits and approaches and those around us. Understanding becomes the key to empathy and to communicating efficiently with others with kindness and respect. Without cultivating these skills, it is very difficult to create a safe space that encourages innovation, problem solving, and cooperation. How difficult? Let’s get to the second article:
Poor Communication Costs HOW MUCH?
Almost on cue, another article from Inc. reveals just how much businesses stand to lose by not investing in developing better employee communication skills. The article cites a 2007 study that each rude employee can cost a business $14,000 (!) in lost revenue and reduced productivity and work time. Not only is this the case, says the article, but a study this year also demonstrated that workplace “incivility” is actually contagious. Here’s how it works: “Researchers discovered that people on the receiving end of uncivil behavior experience mental fatigue because they are often left wondering why they were targeted and how they should respond….That mental fatigue decreased their ability to manage their impulses and regulate their emotions. In turn, they were more likely to treat others in an unkind manner. Those spirals of incivility were often unintentional.”
Again, we find that “spirals of incivility” are difficult to manage in the absence of empathy, understanding, and increased communication skills. Teaching employees, managers, and leadership about better ways to communicate with each other, foster respect and psychological safety, and recognize their own accountability is essential to creating productive teams. Measurable loss as a result of poor soft skills definitely indicates that employee development is a worthy investment.
As we near the end of the year and you’re turning your sights on 2017, consider the changes your business needs to make. Will employee development be a part of your budget? How would better productivity, improved communication, and a more functional team help you to reach your goals in the new year?