Psychological safety focuses on workforce culture

Speaker Dr. Joel Gecht told a group of Kent State faculty psychological safety is “heavily rooted in awareness and perception.” 

Gecht is a psychologist that specializes in the design and implementation of customized behavioral healthcare. He focuses on services for colleges, universities, school systems, healthcare facilities and corporations, Kim Haugen, the director for Employee Wellness, said.

Gecht focused his speech on numerous points regarding psychological safety. The key takeaway was having awareness of your own perceptions.

“Your awareness and your perception is (your) reality because that is the way you’re thinking,” Gecht said. “(It) doesn’t matter if it is or isn’t (true), if you believe it to be so, in your mind it is.”

When creating an environment in which the members feel safe to take risks without fear of negative consequences, it is important to provide psychological safety within the group, Gecht said.

Psychological safety is “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking,” Gecht said, quoting Dr. Amy Edmondson, an organizational behavioral scientist.

Kristin Dowling, the director of Ideas Base in CCI, and Debbie Rho, the manager of Responsible Centered Management, were two of over 30 members of KSU faculty who attended this event. 

Dowling and Rho agreed psychological safety is important when striving for open, creative thinking, especially in group situations.

“I think it’s important because your team feels safe to share ideas, not only with each other but also with their leaders and supervisors.” Dowling said.

Feelings of acceptance and respect are important components of psychological safety within groups, Gecht said. Without it, people may feel unsafe to share their thoughts and ideas.

“We all bring different things to the table.” Rho said. “I feel (psychological safety) is important because we need to embrace everyone’s differences instead of expecting everybody to be just like us.”

Gecht stressed the importance to not only implement these strategies in the workplace, but in your everyday life as well.

“It is about your family, your friends, your community engagements,” Gecht said. “It’s about everything you do every day. It doesn’t stop; it is a continuum.” 

Gecht is also the leader of IMPACT Solutions, a resource provided to Kent State faculty that provides 24/7 confidential mental health counseling, guidance and support for those who need it.

This was a two-part series. The second speech is Friday, Oct. 11 at 9 a.m. at the Kent Student Center in room 306.

Contact Becca Sagaris at [email protected].