How We Establish Psychological Safety in Peer Learning Groups

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We have included a trust-building module in the Core Set of The Peer Learning Group Program. The purpose of the Core Set is to ensure that the program is set up and maintained in a manner that will ensure its success. For this reason, the Core Set is a mandatory requirement and the basic cornerstone for any company who wants to implement The Peer Learning Group Program.

So why do we feel so strongly about the need for new groups to participate in a trust-building module? Well, the answer is very simple. The effectiveness of The Peer Learning Groupã depends upon the willingness of its members to be open and honest with each other. The only environment in which people feel comfortable to be so open and honest is one where they trust each other and feel safe.

This is referred to as “psychological safety.” In a recent article on Strategies to Make Your Peer Learning Program Thrive, Jessica Hartung and Kate Goff note the importance of psychological safety for peer group participants to be willing to learn, share ideas, and admit mistakes.

Participants need to “…get to know one another before tackling heavy topics. Acknowledge and normalize the discomfort of being vulnerable, and … ask everyone to agree to the terms of confidentiality, thoughtful discourse and respect toward one another.”

Our trust-building module, titled Learning Together, addresses these needs with the following objectives. During the module, the members:

  1. Share an experience when a lack of trust adversely affected work relationships and/or performance;
  2. Determine the root causes of these difficulties with creating and maintaining a sense of trust;
  3. Assess the impact of establishing expectations for trusting behavior and trustworthy behavior on a group;
  4. Build greater understanding and trust with their group members;
  5. Create operating guidelines to ensure a safe and trusting environment; and
  6. Report their commitment to the group members.

This trust-building module is intended to create the psychological safety that group members need so they will be comfortable sharing their experiences and concerns, hearing others’ ideas, and working collaboratively to create new strategies to respond to real work challenges.

In reflection,

Deb Laurel

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