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  • staceyong8

What's love got to do with it?

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Wednesday 20 October, glorious sunny Spring afternoon in Melbourne.

We talk a lot about psychological safety and that having a psychologically safe workplace is the common thread among high performing teams. For those of you that haven’t read the famous Google study – the link is here. Google’s Project Aristotle study set out to answer the question, what makes a team effective at Google? They studied 180 teams, testing both team composition and team dynamics. They found that the key idea influencing team effectiveness was psychological safety, defined as “an individual’s perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk or a belief that a team is safe for risk taking in the face of being seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive. In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.”

But - in a wonderful wide ranging conversation with the amazing Maria Mupanemunda - I blurted out that what we should be striving for is more than psychological safety. And my contention is that what we really should be striving for is teams where we feel not just safe, but loved.

LOVE. The L word. It’s a big word. And a very unusual word to use in the context of workplaces.

When we talk about caring for our people, bringing our whole selves to work, and achieving our full potential aren’t these just proxies for love? Being in a team where you are seen as your whole self (including your gender, race, religion...), where people are interested in learning about you, the real you, the one , where the assumption of your teammates is one of support, trust and acceptance. In this COVID-19 pandemic, what I have felt in our communities is two opposite ends of the spectrum – on the one hand overwhelming love and support and pulling together, and at the opposite end, division, blame, frustration.

So my two cents are that we should be unafraid of naming the word love in the workplace. What would it mean to love your team? What would it mean for companies to love their staff, their customers, their stakeholders and community? What would this change?

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