Minette Norman Helps Us Follow the Playbook for Psychological Safety at Work

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In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with DEI consultant and author Minette Norman on the playbook to follow to create psychological safety and be more human in the workplace.

A few reasons why she is awesome — she is a keynote speaker and the name on the sign for Minette Norman Consulting LLC, helping leaders create more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Before that she was the VP of Engineering Practice at Autodesk, helping their culture be more inclusive. She’s the co-author of the new book The Psychological Safety Playbook: Lead More Powerfully by Being More Human and she has another book on the way called The Boldly Inclusive Leader coming in August of 2023.

Connect with, and learn more about, Minette on…

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KEY TAKEAWAYS 

  • What is psychological safety and why it’s misunderstood.
  • Where to start in creating psychological safety.
  • Self-awareness’s role in safety at work.
  • Why organizations might not adopt psychological safety practices.
  • How to create a psychologically safe space for feedback.
  • The degrees of psychological safety.

“That’s a pretty good sign of psychological safety that people talk really openly and share those even half-baked ideas without getting shut down or embarrassed by their peers.”

Minette Norman

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW

Russel Lolacher
And on the show today we have Minette Norman, and here’s why she is awesome. She’s a keynote speaker and the name on the sign from Minette Norman Consulting LLC. What do they do, helping leaders create more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. And before that job, she was the VP of engineering practice at Autodesk helping their culture become more inclusive. She’s the co author of the new book, The psychological safety playbook, lead more powerful by being more human. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s got another book coming out, which is called the boldly inclusive leader coming out in August of 2023. Hello, Minette.

Minette Norman
Hello, Russel. Thanks for having me.

Russel Lolacher
My pleasure. And I’m stoked to talk about psychological safety. Because doing this podcast over the last year and a half, it’s been such a part of the DNA of almost every conversation I’ve had, so to really dig in, and even have maybe some tactical suggestions I’m pretty excited about. But before we do, we got to do our business, which is asking the one question I asked all of my guests, which is, what’s your best or worst employee experience?

Minette Norman
I’m gonna start with a best that goes into a worst if that’s okay. Do it. Okay, best. So I had this job that you just mentioned, my last job in tech, I was VP of engineering, I had a really large mandate, which was to transform how we develop software at a 30 year old company. And I was working on not just technology changes, but really culture changes, and helping everyone be more collaborative and listen to one another and be more inclusive, and create a psychologically safe workplace. And I felt like I was at the top of my game. And I loved it. And I had that that role for about four years, when all of a sudden, my manager who was really my executive sponsor left the company, one of my peers took over as my new manager. And of course, it was the one pier that I had not really gotten along well with before. And what happened is, He then brought in another manager and moved me down around, all of that would have been fine, except that the person that he brought in, bullied me, and I experienced bullying for the first time in my career. And it started with just losing some of my responsibilities and having things stripped away, and then having my confidence being stripped away. And ultimately, the final straw was being silenced. I was literally silenced in meetings, like hand up, do not say another word. And it led me to leave. And it left me it led me to leave a company where I’d spent 20 years in an industry where I’d spent 30 years. And I will tell you that it was pretty devastating. And at the same time, it was just what I needed to figure out what was important to me and what I was going to do next. And that led me to this work, because I realized a lot of leaders want to do the right thing. You know, the bullies are the exception rather than the rule. But they we are trained. I mean, I was never really trained in leadership. And I want to help leaders do better create better workplaces and really be more inclusive to everyone so everyone can do their best work.

Russel Lolacher
Thank you for that glad such horrible things led to where you are today. Great things. I am too I really am. So I like to start all my podcasts beyond that question, which is around defining things. Now. psychological safety is an interesting one and looking at your website you did a great job of. And I want to recite this because it was it’s you can feel it and you can put yourself in it, which is when we can ask a native question, proposal, wild idea or share our emotions, knowing we will not be embarrassed or marginalized. And again, I love that because everybody can sort of relate to that. But the funny thing is, it’s not a very academic answer. Was there a reason behind that?

Minette Norman
Yes, there’s a very deliberate reason. There’s tons of academic research, and writing about psychological safety. And of course, most people probably know the work of Amy Edmondson from Harvard, who is Harvard Business School, and she has been researching psychological safety for decades. And you know, her academic, she has actually several definitions, but her I think most well known is that psychological safety is the belief that this team is a safe place for interpersonal risk taking. So that takes some interpretation, what does interpersonal risk taking mean? And so Karolina and I, in trying to make it more accessible, and this was this was what we were trying to do is like, we were not going to write the academic work that’s been written, it’s been really well done, and it’s very well researched. We wanted to bring it down to earth for people to understand what it is, what it feels like. And then how do you how do you increase the level of psychological safety so we do talk about it as like a belief and a feeling, you know, cuz she says a belief but it is also this feeling that I know in this group, I can ask that naive question. I can challenge when I disagree with someone, I cannot be perfect, I can make a mistake, I can take a risk. And I know that I will not be embarrassed, humiliated or marginalized. So that’s how we talk about it. And I think people can relate to that, because most of most of us have had the experience of not being saved. And hopefully, we’ve also had the experience of when we can feel psychologically safe, what’s possible that we can share our wild ideas, and not be afraid of getting embarrassed or just you know, marginalized for that.

Russel Lolacher
Can it be confused with other things I mean, with with psychological safety immediately, I think of trust, but also think of leaders using words like safe space, psychological safety, and actually not really knowing what it means. But just saying it because it’s on the poster behind them. Do you feel like it’s really well understood in organizations?

Minette Norman
I think it’s very, very commonly misunderstood. To your point. I mean, the thing about trust and psychological safety is they’re so closely linked that I don’t even feel like we have to go diving into that we’ve had that conversation with some people. You know, one differentiator is that psychological safety is seen as a group phenomenon, whereas trust is often between individuals. So that’s one way to think about it. But I love what you just said about safe space, because people love to say that and they even love to say, like, here we are, in this meeting, this is a safe place, you can say anything safe space? And does anyone believe that? You know, probably not until you’ve experienced that it truly is safe, because you can say it’s a safe space all you want. But until someone has experienced that, I can ask that naive question, or I can challenge the groupthink in the room and not be shut down. Until you know, that’s true, you’re not going to believe it. So I don’t like when people say that this is a safe space, because you haven’t proven that it is yet.

Russel Lolacher
And the odd thing too is it’s so personalized. So for you and I a safe space might be very different than say somebody else in the room. Or maybe I have a relationship with that leader that does provide me a safe space, but somebody else in the room is like no, they’re not a safe space for me. So that leader might just assume because they’re so good with that one person, that they have this overarching free path to stay safe, safe. It’s such a personalized thing.

Minette Norman
Yes, and, and it is not just the elite, of course, the leader has an outsized role and sets the tone for the entire group. But the other thing is that every single member of a team can either make or break your sense of psychological safety. So for example, if we’re in a group of eight people, and I’m speaking and one of the one of my colleagues may not be my manager, one of my colleagues, you know, sighs and rolls their eyes, when I say something, I’m going to feel that I’m not appreciated by that person that’s broken the psychological safety for me, and maybe for others in that room, too, because they’ve just witnessed that. So if I just got embarrassed because someone rolled their eyes when I said something, the next person might feel like, who am I going to be the next victim of that.

Russel Lolacher
How do you know psychological safety exists or doesn’t exist within a culture, say you’re a brand new hire, you’re coming in, and you’re sort of gauging the culture of the organization? What are some big red flags and green flags?

Minette Norman
I think a lot of it is your feeling in the room when you first like let’s say you just joined a company and you’re going to your first team meeting, the probably one of the first things you’re going to do is observe the dynamics in the room. And one, I think one green flag is if everyone in that group speaks kind of in equal percentages, that there aren’t a couple people who dominate the conversation, and the others who remain silent. If you’re witnessing a lot of silence in a group, you can pretty much be sure that there’s something going on here that’s not super healthy, and that isn’t safe. Why are these people not speaking up? You know, most people have ideas. And if they don’t feel free to share them, there’s something going on there. And so you witnessed those dynamics. Now, if you see that everyone engages in free dialogue, and there is open disagreement, and it’s not personal attacks, but it’s actually we’re going to debate ideas, and we can really have these debates without hurting people’s feelings. And we can then get to the best solution and innovative solutions and new ideas are welcome. That’s a pretty good sign of psychological safety that people talk really openly and share those even half baked ideas without getting shut down or embarrassed by their their peers. So you’ll start to feel it out pretty quickly in a group environment.

Russel Lolacher
There will probably be a lot of people listening to going we weren’t even talking about psychological safety three years ago, four years ago, what changed because it is DEI, psychological safety… These are terms that are way more in the in the populace much more in usage. Why?

Minette Norman
Well, I think that DEI… so it’s interesting that you mentioned that because certainly, I was focusing on Dei, more than three years ago, and others were too. But when it blew up, I will tell you, at least in the US when it blew up was when George Floyd was murdered. And suddenly, there it was, in the news, this horrible thing that had happened, and you could not not talk about it. And companies, you noticed, probably after the George Floyd murder company started putting out dei statements, you know, we support black lives matter, we support, diversity, equity inclusion, that was an impetus for bringing dei to the forefront. And I think that psychological safety is intrinsically linked, you know, my work is, as you said, focuses on inclusive cultures. And my belief, and I’m not alone, I It’s not like I made this up or anything. But my belief is that you cannot create an inclusive culture, unless it’s built on a foundation of psychological safety. Because if you want to, of course, you want to hire a diverse workforce, because there’s so much evidence that that’s not only the right thing to do. But you’ll also have better results for more diverse thinking, you will not benefit from the talent that you have hired unless everyone feels that they do have a voice and that they are valued for the differences they bring not for their homogeneous homogeneity, right. And so unless people feel that dissenting voices welcome or that Ill thought out idea that might just lead to something, if we fleshed it out is welcome, then they’re going to conform to the group norms. And you might as well just have an entirely homogeneous workforce, because the people who feel other will, who feel somewhat different, will just try to fit in and mask their differences, instead of showing up as who they truly are. So I think you have to build that foundation of psychological safety, which will then enable inclusion and belonging.

Russel Lolacher
Very vital. I mean, you can’t, like you said, you can’t be creative, you can’t be innovative. If you’re not feeling like you can be honest. But if you’re a leader, trying to shift a culture, and facilitate and foster psychological safety, you’ve got this amazing playbook, I really kind of want to know, where does it start?

Minette Norman
Well, you can start with the first play in the blog. No, really, we we truly believe that it starts with yourself as a leader and your own self awareness of your behavior, because people are watching you, you are setting the tone, you are being noticed for not only what your own behavior is, but what behavior you reward, and what behavior you punish, and what you tolerate. Now, one of the first things that we say is that as a leader, you have to show up sort of as your imperfect human self. And that’s why we have that subtitle, lead more powerfully, by being more human. We believe that a leader you know that the idea is that leaders have to show up as perfect and all knowing and omnipotent, that that model has to go away, that what we need today are leaders who are human, who are willing to share at least some vulnerabilities, and that they can actually open their minds and their hearts to other perspectives. And so the first thing we offer as a suggestion in the playbook is for leaders to start asking the question, What am I missing? Because when you when you ask that very simple question, and you really pause to see if anyone has something to add, you’re saying, I am not all knowing there’s surely something that I have missed, because no one can see everything. We all see things through our own narrow lenses. And I’m open to hearing other perspectives and things that I’ve missed. That alone is a powerful opener.

Russel Lolacher
Speaking of powerful, and I’m glad you kind of brought it up, which is self awareness. What is the role of self awareness and psychological safety because when you immediately bring up psychological safety, it’s the thought of the other, I have to create an environment I have to make a psychological safe. But I think a big missing missing piece is that self awareness piece.

Minette Norman
I totally agree with you as just Carlene and we, we actually talk about becoming briefly self aware because self awareness is hard, right? You, you don’t always know how you show up. And one of the things that we think is so important and why self awareness is so important is if you are not self aware, you operate unconsciously, and you operate automatically and that’s going to mean that often. You let your emotions get the best of you in a public setting and you lash out at someone. You embarrass someone. And it’s all because you were not aware of what you are experiencing emotionally, which is going to give you an ability to actually choose your response, instead of having an automatic response. And just to make that a little clearer and more concrete, let’s say that you’re, you’re a leader, and you’re up in front of a room have of your staff or maybe an all hands meeting, and someone asks you a question that challenges you, or that, you know, puts you on the spot. If you are not self aware of the fact that you’re the leader up in front of a room of people, everyone’s watching what you do, you might just read, you know, lash out and say like, that’s a terrible question, or I’m not going to answer that question or shut down the person, I have seen that happen, I’ve been the victim of that. And what happens in the moment is that the person is often completely embarrassed, because the leader, the person, the most powerful figure in the room, has made them feel stupid or less than or not valuable. And then everyone else who was there witnessed what happened. And they now say, Oh, I’m not going to ask a question. Look what just happened to her or to him? And so the self awareness piece that comes in is that, okay, here I am leader in front of the room, I just got a hard question. Take a little pause, take a breath, and realize, if you’re not careful, you’re gonna get defensive. And instead, what you can do is you can just thank the person, “thank you for that question.” In that moment, you’ve calmed down your brain, you’ve gotten out of that automatic fight flight freeze defensive response, which is what happens to all of us. And then you can engage in dialogue, maybe you don’t have the answer to the question, maybe you can ask a follow up clarifying question. And that gives you time to get your brain basically back online, so that you can communicate in a positive way. But I have seen far too many leaders, and honestly, I’ve done it myself when I was not self aware, is you just go into that automatic response. And it’s often not your best self, it’s often your worst self. So that’s why becoming aware that, yes, we have emotions, we don’t leave our emotions when we walk into work, or when we turn on our computer for the day. And it’s important to become aware of our emotions. And that, you know, I love the work of Susan David, on labeling your emotions, because if you can label your emotions, then they don’t have as much power over you. And you can decide how you want to respond. And so I think that’s really, really important for anyone in a leadership position.

Russel Lolacher
I love the idea as well of voicing vulnerability. I was doing a presentation not too long ago, and it was a bunch of truth bombs about leadership. And I might have said it in the most, you know, here is the mirror kind of a presentation. And there was one leader, the one that actually invited me to do the talk in front of this executive group. And she you could tell she was squirming in her seat, you can tell that there was just this. But what I gave her the biggest kudos in the world for was at the end, she’s like, You made me extremely uncomfortable. She said it to the entire room, and then follow it up by going, I really have to sit and understand why I feel that way. And the room opened up after she said that, because they saw her not only being uncomfortable, but that which psychologically safety wise to be like, doesn’t mean she’s ready to be psychologically safe. She just is showing her dissatisfaction with the words coming out of my mouth. But for her to voice that opened up the room to some the most amazing dialogue and really dug deeper into the top of you’re talking about because of how she showed up. It was amazing. So you’ve done a you talked about the the benefits of it, what happens when an organization decides not to be psychologically safe or resistant to psychological safety? How can it hurt an organization?

Minette Norman
I wonder if any organization deliberately chooses not to be that’s interesting. It’s an interesting question that I don’t think I’ve answered.

Russel Lolacher
I think it’s change more than anything, like different ways of doing things or being vulnerable when they’ve always been raised not to be vulnerable. I think it’s more maybe nobody will say I agree, nobody will ever say I’m not going to be not psychological safe, double negative, but they will not want to do things differently than they’re comfortable with.

Minette Norman
Yes. And that is well, that’s I mean, that’s human nature, right. Like it changes hard, and especially changing our behavior that we it’s been ingrained. And we may have been doing this the same way for decades, perhaps so change is hard. I think a lot of it is the there’s a lot of fear. There’s also a misunderstanding, there’s there’s misunderstanding about what psychological safety is and is not. And so I do I do run into this fear of well, if we have if we really work on psychological safety and we have a psychologically safe team. It means that I can’t hold people to high performance standards or accountability is going to fall. All by the wayside. And that’s a misunderstanding, because having a psychologically safe environment does not mean that performance goes down. In fact, it should mean that performance goes up. So I think we have to one of the things is clarifying what it means and what it doesn’t mean. But what I’ve also seen and you know, in terms of behavior change in the resistance to change, is thinking that I have to change everything I do completely, and it’s overwhelming. And so leaders can get really overwhelmed with, Oh, my God, I’m going to do this wrong. You know, there is no perfection, there is no perfect leader. And so we really recommend making small changes in the idea behind the playbook. Because we have 25 ideas or moves in there of things you can do is try one, try one thing, and see how that works, and practice it. And then if that’s not having an impact, try something else and really iterate and learn from what works and make it your own. And the idea is that small changes in your behavior, not reinventing everything you do, but small changes in your behavior as a leader can make a huge difference. And maybe it is that asking, What am I missing? Maybe it is admitting? I don’t have an answer to that. Maybe it’s just changing how you listen to someone else. And really showing up when you have your one on ones that you’re not going to have your phone out, and you’re not going to get distracted. And you’re going to ask clarifying questions, you’re going to make sure you’ve understood the other person before you respond. Those are fairly small things, but they can make a huge difference.

Russel Lolacher
One of the things I love about digging deeper into a topic like you did with the psychological safety playbook is you learn more about the topic that you probably didn’t know is you think you know everything or you think you know a lot and then you digging into it not so much. So when you are co-writing the book with Dr.Helbig, tell me what was surprising to you?

Minette Norman
Well, a number of things. First of all, we, we really had this idea, we knew what we wanted to do, we wanted to provide the how to, and we were looking for information. And it was it was surprisingly hard to find. We were looking for sources. And you know, we’d find little bits of things here and there. So we have a lot of sort of putting the puzzle together. And we also had a lot of experience ourselves know, Carolyn, she has a PhD in human genetics. And she was a McKinsey consultant for many years, she has a really rich experience. And then I had a very different experience in tech for 30 years. And I think our combined experiences really informed our work. But we did a lot of reading and research, not not original research, a lot of reading, to figure out what we might borrow and what we might reference because what we wanted to do is provide tangible ideas, and then give people more material that if they want to dig into empathy, for example, or if they want to dig into growth mindset, you know, we had books and references for people to look at. So I think that I’ll tell you the thing that was maybe the most surprising because that was your question was we had more material than we could use. Sometimes, I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough, we we ended up leaving out a whole play, we decided we liked this number of five plays with five moves in 2025 total. And we have a sixth play that we started to work on. And then we said you know what, let’s just say that it’s not the last time we’re going to work on something together. Let’s put that one aside. So the surprising thing was just how much we really felt we could share on this topic. And we’re not done with it. And so we’ve we have this fabulous Miro board, you know an online whiteboard, where we keep all of our ideas. So we have something that currently labeled the simmering pot, and in the simmering pot are things that we want to come back to and work on later. So I guess the most surprising thing was that there’s lots more and we haven’t, we have lots more to explore.

Russel Lolacher
So I want to without going through all the steps of the playbook, but I kind of want to get a tangible idea of a scenario. So for example, feedback, how can you provide a psychologically safe? Like what are a few things you could do to create a psychological safe space? Sorry, safe space, dammit. For feedback to prove that it is a safe space, dammit, I can’t give it it just rolls off the tongue. It’s too easy to say.

Minette Norman
I know it is. It’s one of those sorts of cliches that we all know feed. Well, you kind of preempted our sixth play. That’s really funny that you go there because we decided that we needed to do a whole thing on feedback because it’s so hard both to give and to receive feedback. And so we’ve kind of set that aside. But we do have some material in the playbook about feedback. And so I think there there are several things that one is if you’re the one giving the feedback, really to make sure that the other person is ready to receive it. And so some of that may be even checking in I do have some feedback that I’d like to share with you whether it’s positive or negative, constructive, and is this the right time to talk about it, because people need time to prepare, right, they need to know I’m about to receive some feedback, let me get in the right mindset. And if you just slam it at them and surprise them, what’s going to happen, they’re gonna go into that freeze flight fright freeze mode of like, Oh, my God, I can’t, I can’t even hear this. So prepping someone for it. And then giving them feedback, I would say, and this is something I had to do so much, of course, managing teams for 20 years is giving feedback in a way that someone can hear it. So not to destroy their morale, but because you want them to be better. And because you believe in their potential, I think it’s really important that you tell people that explicitly that this feedback is because I really care about you. And that I really know you can do even better than you’re doing today. And that’s why I’m offering it to you. So to offer it with generosity for the person’s benefit, and not as something to destroy their morale and make them feel terrible. And so there are lots of I think there’s a lot of again, the self awareness is, how am I going to deliver this feedback? And am I in the right frame of mind? Have I thought about? Is it specific? Is it something that the person is going to be able to do something with as opposed to it just being general, you’re hard to work with? Like, what does that mean? Right? So So I think that’s part of it. One of the things we also include in the book, which I think is just as important is when you’re receiving feedback, it may hit you really hard, some something that’s going to hit you harder than others. And one of the things that we recommend is acknowledging that when it happens, so if you get a piece of feedback, and it hits you in your heart and your gut, to just say, You know what, that just hit me really hard. And I’d like a minute to think about it, or can we come back to that, because I need to process that. But to acknowledge to the other person, again, there you are human, showing up that I have feelings, and that one hit me kind of hard, and I need a little bit of time to digest it. So two things that you know, the how you give it and how you receive it to be really thoughtful and mindful about it. And that it is it is not easy on either side of it. So there’s more to come on that because we, every time we’ve talked about this, people want to dig into feedback. I was just doing a workshop this week. And we practice giving and receiving feedback. And it was so interesting, because two of it was a small team, it was just six people, two of the people said, after we did it, I said and it was a very gentle sort of giving feedback. It wasn’t anything really scary. But afterwards, I said, so what was that like because you’ve never done that as a team before to give feedback to everyone and to hear feedback from everyone. And they said, I had butterflies in my stomach. And it’s a big, it’s a vulnerable act to get both to give and to receive feedback. And so I don’t think we should minimize that.

Russel Lolacher
It’s almost seen, sometimes feedback is considered a conflict, it’s considered a situation where it’s a difficult conversation, or it’s there’s conflict involved, even though people say some feedback is a gift. And a lot of it is not all of it, but some of it is. But I love that you bring it back to communication, because when I went to when I went to school for communication, it was all about it’s not only what you say, but how it’s understood. And that feels very much the route of “Okay, now let’s put it in an environment of psychological safety and we can deliver it properly.” So, that leads me to a question around degrees, is there degrees of psychological safety? Or is it all or nothing? Is it zero or you have it is it binary? Or are there like 15 phases of psychological safety till you get to the you know, promised land?

Minette Norman
It is definitely not binary. It is it is gradations and shades of gray like there is no zero sum. Well, maybe there’s zero state, there could be where it’s truly, truly just toxic. Maybe that’s what it is a truly toxic place is not safe. But everything else is just a spectrum of psychological safety. Now, I don’t know if you know the book by Timothy C. Clarke called the four stages of psychological safety. He he identifies four stages. I don’t think it’s linear. I happen to disagree that you go 1-2-3-4. And the fourth one is, I think he calls challenger safety. And the first one is inclusion, safety. And I forget what the ones in between are. I don’t think it goes that way. I think you have sort of waves of ebbs and flows and things happen to increase psychological safety, and then something may bring it down a little bit. It definitely is not a straight line of we go for steps along the way. So I think it’s all a spectrum. I think that also you said this earlier that everyone experiences things differently, right. And so, in a team, I’m just gonna go back to that team of 10. If you have a team of 10 and you did a survey, you know, we definitely have a survey tool that Karolin and I got certified in that’s based on Amy Edmondson is work, we can run a survey of a team on the level of psychological safety and you’re not going to get the same answer from everybody, it’s going to be quite a gamut. Because everyone brings their own experiences to the table. And some people are experiencing a high degree of psychological safety, while others are feeling like I don’t dare open my mouth. So every single person has their own, of course, their own trauma, their own baggage, their own experiences. And then of course, when you think about diverse organizations, people from underrepresented groups, people who are not the dominant group experienced things differently than those who are like in the in crowd and, and I know what that’s like. And so there is no first of all, there is no linear, you know, that we get along the steps. And also, it’s not black and white. Because everyone’s experiencing things differently. I do think there’s value. I’ve only run a few of those surveys, not that many teams are that interested in getting the data data, and that’s fine. But it’s very interesting, because I remember running a survey for a team and some people had like, almost 100%, we feel so great here. And then there was one or two people over weigh at the bottom. And that’s the reality of most teams is that everyone’s having a different experience. When we were setting up this interview, we had a really interesting sort of chat around one of the diverse areas that doesn’t get talked about which is age, which is generational. So when it comes to generation psychological safety, I feel like it can be quite different for a Gen Zed versus a baby boomer, have you found that or seen that from your feedback?

Minette Norman
I haven’t. And I’m just thinking about it. I think when you when you actually think about Gen Z in the US Gen Zed everywhere else, that versus a Boomer and I’m a boomer, those are almost two extremes in the workplace today in terms of, you know, ages, difference in ages, that people who I think it’s more that people who feel marginalized have a different experience than those who feel like they’re right in the dominant group. So maybe, maybe that that’s the difference. But I don’t think that it is truly generational as much it is, based on your individual experiences.

Russel Lolacher
What are you hoping to happen? You’ve written a literal book playbook on psychological safety? What are you hoping to achieve by creating an actual book for people to take step by step and to try to improve their organization?

Minette Norman
We have a lofty goal, we want to start a movement. And we want to improve workplaces all over the world so that everyone can do their best work, and be motivated and engaged and feel fully appreciated for what they can offer. So that’s our lofty goal. And the good news is we are seeing both large and small organizations, but it’s really interesting in large organizations approach us and say, We want to order a ton of books, and we want to bring you in, and we want to figure out how to scale this across a really large organization. So I think there’s appetite for it. And we’re now trying to figure out how do we do that? How do we do that when we’re two people, we’re actually thinking about doing some material that we could then license to organizations that they could use internally, we’re not sure where that’s gonna go. But we really want to have a broad global impact of making the world of work better for everybody. Before I get to my fun question, I’m curious about just how did your love of inclusivity and the importance of inclusivity lead to the psychological safety conversation? Like where’s the linkages for you in that for the workplace? It’s really, it was quite personal. For me. It was when I was leading engineering. And I was I was doing a lot of work on DEI. Already, I had been a longtime mentor for the women’s ERG at Autodesk. I was doing a lot more work across DEI across the organization, I was the exec sponsor for the black network, I was just getting more and more immersed in that. And as I was learning about inclusion, I was also experiencing in the team, I was a part of a lack of psychological safety. And I didn’t even know what the term meant I came across it when I found Amy Edmondson ‘s work. And I realized, Oh, this is how people feel marginalized. I’m feeling marginalized. I’m, I was one of the only women in the room. I was the oldest person in the room. I was a non engineer. And I just felt like I don’t fit in here. And I don’t feel like my voice is always welcome. And I have ideas and I’m not going to speak up and I’m realizing that what a lack of inclusion is and it’s also a lack of psychological safety. And so that’s I started reading basically I started reading I read read everything by Amy Edmondson. I was reading about diversity, equity inclusion, and that’s where I just saw this intrinsic link between the two.

Russel Lolacher
It’s interesting, the more authors I get to talk to this, this podcast, the more it feels like authors are writing books to have the workplace they wish they had had. So…

Minette Norman
For sure, like what we learned so much, I spent 30 years in this industry and all these authors who have done all of this stuff, like let’s just make it better. That’s, that’s what I want to do at this phase in my career, like I have, I have maybe a decade of more work in me and I want to I want to use it for good.

Russel Lolacher
So the last question I asked all of my guests Minette, which is, what’s one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Minette Norman
This one’s hard for me, because I think that every 20 or 25 items at our book are useful for that. So I’m just gonna pick one because why not? Right? I think one thing you can do right now in your next encounter, is to listen, to understand the other person and really focus on am I truly present? Am I truly listening to understand? Am I only interjecting? If I need a clarifying question? Am I stopping myself from preparing my response? Am I fully committed to understanding honestly that will change your relationships in a huge way? And it sounds really easy, and it’s quite challenging if you haven’t practiced being a great listener.

Russel Lolacher
That is Minette Norman. She is a keynote speaker. She is a consultant and she is the co author of the new book, The psychological safety playbook lead more powerfully by being more human. Thanks for being here, Minette.

Minette Norman
Thanks for having me, Russel. That was fun.

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