Hijacked at Work: When Psychological Safety is Missing!

  • the missing link in workplace safety programs…Or, am I barking up the wrong tree?

With a picture like this, who can help but feel loved and adorable with these two dogs looking after our safety?  But the bottom line is that our physical safety is deeply linked to a sense of psychological safety.  How we run our businesses, manage our staffs and implement change processes contributes greatly to increased risks in psychological safety.  Risks that can lead to absenteeism, illness, distractions and lack of focus that lead to physical injuries.

So why is it that companies put so much into physical safety without taking a look at psychological safety…how we behave with each other?

Why does Psychological Safety matter?

Here are some startling facts…one global business in the energy sector reported that 80% of its physical safety incidents are connected to psychological issues.

Another Canadian based energy company noted that 50% of its long-term disability claims are rooted in mental health issues.

A Canadian Initiative on Workplace Violence found 40% of the workforce on some form of psychotropic medication for either anxiety or depression, both of which contribute to workplace aggression.

Feeling Safe or Unsafe?

What is psychological safety?  It is typically applied team settings and a sense of safety for interpersonal risk taking…to be creative, productive and innovative.

It’s the ability to show and be one’s self without fear of negative consequences…where team members feel accepted and respected.

Are we dialing in for Failure or Success?  How we sabotage those around us…

Okay…a no-brainer right?  Yet, how many times have you felt shut down, demeaned, belittled?

Dealt with by interruptions, sarcasm, put-downs, outbursts, yelling, ridicule, public humiliation, blaming and shaming?  The list goes on…actions not matching words, unclear or unknown expectations, breaking promises without mending the break, endless rules and regulations.

So why is this important?  Let me share a story…for many years, I served as a disability and accommodation consultant to a power and water company, facilitating their reasonable accommodation program.  One particular team of 12 employees repeatedly showed up at my mediation table with one injury after another.  Something’s not right and leadership knew something had to be done because the injuries were costing them plenty.  After delving into the situation through interviews and focus groups, it was uncovered that the supervisor of the team was the hallmark of a micromanager, bottle-necking information coming in or going out.  Lots of concerns being expressed with no relief…supervision was delivered with arrogance, demeaning tones, public put-downs, and dismissive attitudes to their concerns.

The employees felt stuck, tied up in emotional distress, violated in their personal and physical space in getting their needs met and unable to get out of harm’s way!  This in turn led to distraction, lack of focus, worry and anxiety as they turned to do their jobs.

Because of our flight, fight or freeze response, their bodies were reacting to what they were  psychologically experiencing before they even knew it.  The mind-body connection that is now so evident through neuroscientific discoveries over the last 20+ years shows how the body and emotional brain react before the cognitive brain can kick in.  This distraction in neurological functioning in the brain disrupts the more reasoned, human brain leading to unfocused physical behavior.

How do we get thrown off-balance?

93% of how we communicate comes from what we see and what we hear BEFORE we even make cognitive sense of it, triggering things like muscle tension, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and release of the stress hormone, cortisol…throwing us off balance.

We now know through scientific evidence that our intellect, how smart we are or what we know, makes up only a third of what we are about.  Instead, we function much more from what is our emotional intelligence, or lack thereof.  Our E.I. is made up by our self-awareness, our awareness of others, our self-management and our management of relationships with others.  This is where we get to beliefs, expectations, assumptions or attitudes, concerns or challenges and hopes – what I call the BEACH.  We also uncover our Fears, Values and Needs through emotional intelligence.

How do we create psychological safety?

So how do we create some protection from the emotional storm around us.  Again, we’ve invested great sums of money and time into physical safety and the workplace truly is a safer place to be than 20 years ago.  But why do we still have so much in the way of EEOC and DFEH claims?  Why do we have such high costs when it comes to absenteeism, illness, health insurance utilization and workers’ compensation rates.

Instead, building on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, let’s introduce a twist.  Self-actualization is usually what you see at the top of the pyramid but who really knows what that means.  Instead, if we recoin the top to “self-Development” that’s more understandable, right?  Ways to expand our emotional intelligence..

the need to strive toward an environment that encourages self-protection, attention and focus, self-knowledge, self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-empowerment, self-control, self-discipline, consistency, initiative, curiosity, achievement, humor, creativity and spirituality.

My challenge to you… what’s missing in your workplace safety program?  I bet it’s programs that address personal and leadership development that create an environment of psychological safety.  That’s what I call the missing link to psychological health and safety.

Hi, my name is Dr. Debra Dupree.  I help people master their relationships by connecting, listening and engaging to build powerful and persuasive presence, influence and impact.  For more information on what you can do to maximize your footprint effectively and efficiently, schedule your complimentary Discovery Session here!

 

 

3 Tips on How to get out of your RUT and get UNSTUCK!

Posted 10-26-16

The Wealthy Wednesday Show is designed for Creative Women Entrepreneurs who choose to triumph in their business to have more money, more freedom and more joy while making an impact on the world. This show is hosted by the top influencer, community builder, sought after transformationalist, and Abundance Breakthrough Coach Luci McMonagle. Join us weekly at 5 pm pacific with expert guests who will empower and inspire you with timeless, practical, and spiritual wisdom for your success.
In spite of Dr. Debra Dupree’s extensive training in the psychology of human behavior, the bottom line is that we are all human and we make choices, right, wrong or indifferent, about what we do, how we do it and with whom we do it. FEAR kept me in a relationship for six years that was not healthy for me. So many life traumas happened in a short period of time in her life that she was clinging on what she once perceived to be a solid foundation, not realizing how the relationship was actually chipping away at her self-confidence and success. Once she really examined what kept her in the relationship versus having a vision for herself she was able to get out of her rut and start tapping into her greatness in the world.

Join us for an incredible journey that will give you tips on how to get you out of your rut.

Path to Profit Podcast for Creative Entrepreneurs: Leadership vs. Management

How to Fix Your People Problems

David Shriner-Cahn chats with Dr. D about how to fix your people problems. Leveraging her background in psychology and business, Debra helps people master their emotional intelligence, repair damaged relationships, and fulfill their career and life goals. Today she discusses how to build psychological safety in order to have better self-awareness and less conflict in the workplace. She also shows us how to stop taking things so personally, and reveals why business leaders need to move with change instead of rebelling against it.


Topics include:

  • How to build resiliency and flexibility around change
  • Recognizing other people’s perspectives
  • How to repair long-term relationships
  • The importance of self-reevaluating

Over the last 30+ years, Dr. Debra Dupree has been fascinated with what makes people tick…at work and at home.  She became a therapist, mediator, professor and doctor of psychology…and now she’s a public speaker and author. Debra helps people recover from the drama and trauma in their pasts, and helps them discover positive karma. She uncovers those emotional pains that get in the way of true success.  She helps her clients map out a plan for a whole new way of “being” for stronger performances and increased earnings. She helps turnaround what makes good people become bad bosses and what makes great employees fail.

Learn more about Debra at LinkedIn.  As she likes to say…REACH…Recognize your Energy and Act with Courage and Hope!  When the emotional pain is too great, it’s not too late to take action. Contact Dr. Debra now!

White Matter vs Gray Matter: Why Men and Women See The World Differently

Jeff Gibbard of HitchPhilly, the online source for dating for online marketing, takes a unique approach to business of dating.  He invited Dr. Debra Dupree to talk about the neurobiological differences between men and women when it comes to relationships and dating.

 

The Risky Business of Bad Bossing

debra-on-espn-8-31-16-with-buddy-greene-the-risky-business-of-bad-bossing

ESPN 1700 Radio Talk Show Host and Mortgage Lender Buddy Greene invites Dr. Debra Dupree live to talk about the Risky Business of Bad Bossing.  Find out how bad bossing has its roots in early attachment, the cost and impact of bad bossing on YOU, and the risky business for letting it go on!

Feeling unsafe triggers us emotionally. A whole chain of reactions happens physiologically, generating hormones and neurotransmitters that throw off our sense of cognitive and emotional balance…our sense of safety and security. So how can we create a sense of psychological safety…for ourselves and others…and why does it even matter? Why do we need to be fully aware of the perils of bad bossing?   Listen in and learn!

Dr. Debra regularly speaks to organizations like yours on “how to manage up” when you have a “bad boss” as well as what can be done to turn that “bad boss” around, particularly when the bad boss is YOU!

 

Ten things that you might be doing that’s giving you a “Bad Boss” reputation…and 7 ways to turn it around!

When we’re under pressure and things get tense, emotions run high.  We all experience it.  And, unless we’ve done some personal work, it literally becomes physiologically challenging, nearly impossible,  to manage our emotional response. Quite frankly, few of us know what to do and how to manage those fierce emotional reactions that drive us to say and do things that we later regret.  Unfortunately, the impact on others can be devastating.

In today’s world, managing ourselves appropriately seems like a no-brainer.  Right?  However, some simple behaviors actually lead to a “bad bossing” reputation and we’re not even aware of it.  Take a look at these top 10 traits that get in the way of being more successful as identified by the top ten coaches from FORBES Coaches Council…

  1. Inability to listen (what I think is more important that what you are saying).
  2. Close-mindedness (my way or the highway…there can’t be a better way…I am right).
  3. Tendency to control (or another way of saying it…micromanagement)
  4. Perfectionism (never enough, always a better way of doing it…leading to unrealistic expectations)
  5. Selfishness (my needs are greater than your needs…self-centered)
  6. Emotionally reactive (inability to manage one’s reactions to internal and external triggers)
  7. Inconsistency (this means unpredictability which means instability and therefore loss of credibility)
  8. Subjectivity (second-guessing,  lacking a factual basis or foundation to what’s going on, acting on intuition)
  9. Stubbornness (being positional…insistent that you’re way is the only way…see #2)
  10. Presumptiousness (making assumptions and we know what “assume” means, right?)

Becoming aware of the impact we have on others is a critical step in developing our emotional intelligence (EI).  As the saying goes…your IQ is what gets you hired but it’s your EQ that gets you higher!  What next steps can you take to improve your EQ as well as maximize your leadership potential?  Followers will follow their leaders when they feel valued and made to feel the center of the organization…that their perspective and input is important to making important decisions (Warren Benis).  True leadership is earned, and it is earned by having a positive impact – a lasting, influential impact on those around you.  Leaders who succeed, not fail, in influencing their followers embrace the following key characteristics:

  1. Lead with character
  2. Cultivate strong relationships
  3. Steer with competence
  4. Trust others’ intuition
  5. Focus on others’ experience
  6. Take pride in others’ potential
  7. Inspire to motivate

So, how do you achieve this?  Sounds simple but not always easy to translate into action…action that means and makes a difference.

This is where  training and coaching come into play.  Take action now!  Letting problem behavior continue will only cost you and your organization more dollars, lost employees, and reduced morale for those who stay behind.

Keep in mind, great leaders are capable of embracing these seven steps to truly affect people positively in ways to positively influence…not negatively derail people from their personal best.

NOTE:  This writing has evolved from Dr. Debra Dupree’s 2014 doctoral dissertation on “The Psychology of Good Bosses vs. Bad Bosses” leading to the development of her proprietary program on “Breakthroughs to Unbelievable Leadership” which is a training and coaching model available to organizations over a 10-week timeline.

ESPN “Lunch and Learn” Radio Interview with Dr. Debra Dupree

On Wednesday, August 26, “Lunch And Learn Radio Show” on ESPN 1700 AM interviewed Dr. Debra Dupree. They discussed how Divorce Mediation was different from traditional methods of divorce and how important the psychological and social aspects of the brain affect negotiations within the context of divorce. It was an informative and inspiring interview.

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Four Ways to Lead by Example

Do you have a clear sense of direction and purpose that inspires and energizes you?  If not, you are most likely setting an unintentional tone for the day and influencing those around you…your mood and attitude are contagious and ripple through the organization.

How different your life becomes when you establish your purpose and use it as a framework for planning, setting goals and examining tasks and behaviors – when you become and do what matters most.  It involves the total person to discover total purpose. Where are you in your leadership journey?

These kinds of questions are what challenged the founder and owner of a company called Gravity Payments, Inc. in Washington State when he read a study on income and happiness.  Owner Dan Price made a startling discovery when he learned that people who make $70,000 per year are generally happier than those above and below that threshold.  Happier employees stay longer and are more productive, generating increased profitability.  What’s he doing now?  Considering the average salary at Gravity Payments was $48,000 per year with knowledge that many employees were struggling, he’s diving fully into that concept.  He’s started by slashing his own salary from nearly $1 million per year to $70,000 per year along with investing 75-80% of the company’s anticipated $2.2 million in profits to make this happen over the next three years to help employees reach that level of income and happiness.  He’s making a difference in the culture of his organization not to mention the lives of his people.

In The Economist, management guru Warren Bennis offered some great insights about leadership.  Bennis lists four competencies that leaders need to develop to lead effectively and profitably; you can see that Dan Price operated from this set of four principles:

First, leaders articulate a clear and compelling vision, that provides people with a bridge to the future.  They are visionary and capable of communicating that common vision to give people purpose and meaning.  It outlines the priorities and direction of the group.   In Price’s situation, he saw the need to help reduce the daily stressors and help people feel valued.

The happiness research behind Price’s decision is based on the work from Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist.  Emotional well-being — defined as “the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience, the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant” — rises with income, but only to a point.  As a leader, what you are doing to make a difference in the people who follow you?  It may not necessarily be money, but you CAN do things differently to enrich the lives of those around you.

Second, they act confidently and optimistically, giving meaning to that vision through communication.  The leader’s confidence, conviction and optimism is contagious; it rubs off on the followers.  A good leader is the lifeblood of any organization.

Price’s decision clearly sets a new tone for his organization and invigorates each and every employee at every level.

Third, they express confidence in their followers.  Great leaders have high confidence in people and make them feel good about themselves.  They foster confidence and optimism.   Building trust is key, “trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”  In Price’s case, his act of taking his own income and the profits of his company instills a sense of confidence in his people that his actions will yield a big return to the benefit of all concerned.  When there is clear direction and enthusiasm, your team knows where it’s headed, understands what’s expected and gets the job done when they feel valued.  It’s a “both-gain” outcome in the end.

Lastly, they lead by example.   As a leader, all eyes are on you, whether or not you know it.  Regardless of how your employees truly feel about you, they still look to you as a role model.  Do your actions match your words?  Do you do what you say you are going to do?  Can they “trust” what you will say and do next?  Consistency and predictability are key to building trust.  Price’s actions are all about leading by example to instill trust in the people who work for him.

There’s a big difference between managing and leading.  A manager and a leader are two completely different roles, although we often use the terms interchangeably.  Managers get things done…leaders know how to get things done to move the business forward, to develop, and to nurture growth.  Another way of saying this is that managers do things right while leaders do the right thing!

One must learn to wear different hats when dealing with different circumstances and with different personalities as well as look at things from different perspectives.  Flexibility is key for a leader to lead effectively.  What’s important is that a leader knows how to tap the potential of their employees and knows how to customize the approach to help them become a better person in the end.

Unfortunately, too many executives don’t understand the difference and don’t work hard enough on building these leadership skills to invigorate and value people.  You can “manage” dozens of people, but you can “lead” millions.

In Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Resultsa landmark 2000 Harvard Business Review study, he and his team engaged 3,000 middle-level managers over a three-year period.   The research discovered that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability! Imagine how much money and effort a company spends on new processes, efficiencies, and cost-cutting methods in an effort to add even one percent to bottom-line profitability.  Compare that to efforts that simply inspire managers to be more kinetic with their leadership styles.  When we look at the cost of investment, it becomes a “no-brainer.”  Again, Price saw the answer in his company’s future growth through the value of investing in his people.

No matter what you’ve already achieved, no matter where you are in the organization, no matter what your leadership goals may be, you can profit from learning more about leadership excellence, your emotional intelligence, and leading by example.  Just like all of us know how to breathe, few of us do it really effectively.  Is this what happens to your leadership?  Do you realize how much you are setting the tone and leading by example that yield behaviors from employees that erode the bottom-line?  Invest now in YOU through leadership development services.

About the author:

Dr. Debra Dupree combines her workplace and family background by helping business professionals look at the cost of conflict, designing systems and solutions to strengthen performance and increase profitability.  Her experience is built upon many years of service as a Workplace Mediator/Consultant and today she specializes in business mediation and leadership services.

Email:  dr.dupree@relationships-at-work.com
Phone:  1-800-743-1973                    TWITTER:  @RTMcoach
Linked In:  www.linkedin/in/debradupreerelationshipcoach