My Thoughts on Creating a Thriving Workplace


Title: Psychological Safety: Creating the Respectful Workplace
From: Pam Jackson, PhD, Consultant

People in workplaces are high performers when they feel empowered, equipped, self-expressed, and respected. When diverse views and voices are honored and included, creativity and innovation flourish, people thrive, and profitability soars.

Psychological safety is present in the workplace when people believe that they are free to speak up and share their ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. When people feel unsafe or fear punishment and/or retaliation, humiliation, discrimination, or alienation in response to their self-expression, the workplace is psychologically unsafe. Productivity, performance, and profitability are all in jeopardy when team members do not feel safe to speak freely.
To ensure psychological safety is to have people feel comfortable voicing their opinions and fearless of being judged. Teams develop a safe environment when a few ground rules are created as to how they interact with one another. These could be for example:

  • Do not interrupt one another other.
  • Allow all ideas to be accepted equally and never judged.
  • Never place blame; encourage honesty.
  • Out-of-the-box suggestions are encouraged and listened to.

Here are five ways of being that leaders can create and nurture in the workplace to create the safety that is desired:

    1. Treat Everyone with Respect
      Regardless of position in the organization, it matters that leaders first, and then their teammates, are respectful, thoughtful, and considerate of one another. When it comes to psychological safety, treat others as they’d like to be treated. Take the time to ask your team members and direct reports what they’d prefer regarding things like frequency of check-ins, style of communication, and type of feedback. Make sure that people know what is considered respectful behavior and what is disrespectful behavior.“If you’re a great manager or leader, you shouldn’t be operating from the point-of-view of what you want, you should be operating from the point-of-view of what others want.” Interpersonal risk taking becomes far less risky if you know what others want and how they prefer to be treated.


    1. Welcome Curiosity and Be Willing to “Not Know”
      Nurturing a curiosity culture allows for a learning environment that is constructive, creative, and team building. In some workplace settings, employees feel shame and humiliation when they “do not know” the answer, the solution. In that case, it is easier to hide and lie rather than be honest and forthright. Being curious allows people to be present on a journey of discovery, creativity, better communication, and a more agile and adaptive workforce. When the team arrives at obstacles, they overcome them more effectively and quickly.


    1. Promote Healthy Dialog
      Conflict might be considered one of the riskiest interpersonal endeavors in a workplace, and as such, leaders should strive to create conditions for the healthiest form of conflict. The sharing of ideas that are different should be encouraged and protected. Also, ensuring that people debate the ideas and not the person helps keep the dialog respectful. “I disagree with your proposed solution” is different from “I disagree with you.” Encourage trust and mutual respect to create a safe, comfortable workplace.


    1. Give Employees a Voice
      Placing draconian restrictions on employees is a detriment to psychological safety, especially rules or infrastructure that limit communication. To overcome this, create liberal pathways to leadership, provide channels for feedback, and encourage conversation.“Upward communication can be a vital force in helping contemporary organizations learn and succeed; by speaking up to those who occupy positions to authorize actions, employees can help challenge the status quo, identify problems or opportunities for improvement, and offer ideas to improve their organizations’ well-being.” [Source]


  1. Encourage the Journey, Not the Destination
    Emotionally secure employees are more engaged, productive, and innovative. Leaders who focus on the quality of the day-to-day work experience do not need to have a rigid focus on the outcome. Empowered people produce results. When leaders reduce the threats that people feel inside the group, those people are free to focus more time and energy to protect the organization from the constant dangers outside and focus on high-performance. Build a culture around taking risks, where all ideas are encouraged and unpredictable paths are embraced.

From the Author,
Pam Jackson, PhD

Title: Crisis Communication: Managing During Difficult Times
From: Pam Jackson, PhD, Consultant

Crisis management and communication is the art of dealing with and communicating about sudden and unexpected events that disturb employees, the organization, and external clients. Proactive crisis management prepares individuals to face unexpected developments and adverse conditions in the organization with courage and determination. Reactive crisis management tends to waste resources, destroy morale, and risk the reputation of the enterprise.

In today’s COVID environment, the crisis, which started as sudden and unexpected, has become sustained, prolonged, and stressful. Management and communication systems break down more easily in the face of constant, sustained pressure and scarcity. When management decisions are sound and reasonable and clear communication happens, employees (and even clients) adjust well to the sudden changes. When management decisions are hasty and poorly thought out, often because of a panicked state, employees do not adjust, and clients are not well-served.

The key issue that most organizations miss is that it matters to make the investment of time—to think and plan. Rather, firms choose to “make do” or “get by” or “survive” as a matter of practice in the face of crisis. Those that took the time to stop, plan, and pivot were well-positioned to endure the most unexpected length of time that the COVID threat and related social distancing practices have existed. The time cost is much lower than most realize for the preparation or ordered response to a crisis. When prepared, employees can understand and analyze the causes of crises and cope with it in the best possible way, and managers can devise strategies to come out of uncertain conditions and also decide on the future course of action. Training and preparation in advance can assist managers in noticing the early signs of crisis, warning the employees against the aftermaths, and taking necessary precautions for the same. Training and preparation during a crisis are usually impossible because most crises are short-lived and intense. Instead, unusually so, this crisis has been sustained and devastating to families who have lost loved ones and to the economy.


    1. Take the time to gain the knowledge to structure your communication systems and content. Create a team responsible for understanding what needs to be said and to whom throughout the situation. Have them ensure the focus stays on the mission and vision of the company rather than the temporary, perhaps frightening circumstances.


    1. Identify the front-liners in your organization—the people on the team responsible for the best interests of employees and client services. Educate and empower them with clear goals and objectives. These goals may be short-term and change week by week. No worries.


    1. Build great company culture so that loyalty and resiliency influence client and employee retention and response. Being adaptable and flexible matters in times of crisis.


  1. Get trained on clarifying different levels of messaging to send out over a variety of channels for the duration of a crisis, as well as an understanding of how to do a post-crisis review. What communication is needed to reduce or restore reputational damage? When is it needed? To whom is it directed?

From the Author,
Pam Jackson, PhD

Title: Valuing Diversity: Creating the Respectful Workplace
From: Pam Jackson, PhD, Consultant

Most employers express the desire to have a diverse, inclusive workplace and often do not realize how critical it is to pay attention to communication. What holds most organizations back is a complex web of systemic, cultural, and structural issues that must be understood before they can be overcome. A carefully considered program is invaluable for a workplace to accomplish its objectives. Structurally, the company may have policies and procedures to empower diversity and inclusivity practices. What is happening to enforce those policies to create a culture of diversity and inclusion?

Best-practice diversity management involves an organizational culture that values, embraces, and celebrates individual differences. Diversity practitioners and researchers refer to this as inclusion. An inclusive workplace does not seek to assimilate its members to a dominant cultural norm. Rather, inclusion involves the preservation of individual differences. Inclusive workplaces encourage the coexistence of different cultures, values, beliefs, and styles in the workplace.

Respect and trust are key ingredients of any relationship, especially those relationships in the workplace. Without them, productivity and talent retention diminish. While we all believe we deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, it is when we are not treated well that it affects our on-the-job performance and our motivation to excel at our job. The critical, essential component to creating and retaining the respectful workplace is leadership and communication.

    1. Practice Active Listening
      When leaders in the organization actively listen to staff, it shows they are cared about as individuals, that their feelings are respected, and that their talent is appreciated.


    1. Uphold a Zero-Tolerance Policy
      Make sure everyone in the company understands that there is a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination, bullying, and sexual harassment and that perpetrators will be punished accordingly. Also, make sure it is clear to everyone what the process is for reporting incidents and that their concerns will be taken seriously and addressed immediately.


  1. Be Respectful & Courteous to Build Company Culture
    The best way to make respect and courtesy a part of the company culture is for the leaders of the organization to model it and make sure all management staff models it as well. Greet all employees by name, take an interest in their personal lives, and show them courtesy. Pay attention to the little things like showing up to meetings on time and making sure everyone gets to contribute to important discussions and planning. Other ways to show respect include the tone of voice used when talking with employees… look them in the eye and give them undivided attention.

When everyone treats each other with respect and courtesy, the workplace is created respectfully, and staff members are excited to come to work every morning. They will want to do their best for the organization and make their managers proud.

From the author
Pam Jackson, PhD

Pam Jackson Blog Page

About the Author, Pam Jackson, PhD

A global transformational leader, consultant, and coach, Dr. Jackson leads diversity and inclusion training for several organizations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. She achieves workplace performance objectives in service of creating high-performing and respectful workplaces. She holds three degrees in economics, with a focus on organizational behavior and performance, corporate and public finance, and education administration and training. She is also qualified as a Certified Healthcare Quality Professional® (CPHQ) with powerful training in quality management, performance improvement, and organizational leadership. Originally from the United States, Dr. Jackson served as a senior-level executive in the U.S. Congress for 15 years. In this time, she led consultations, trainings, and courses regarding public policy and workplace issues involving performance, diversity and inclusion, female empowerment in the workplace, and other related topics designed to address productivity and performance.