Successful teamwork is a widely researched topic in occupational psychology and is also highly relevant for managers. Good teamwork can be linked to better performance, more innovation, faster & better learning and greater satisfaction within the team itself. Whereas it used to be assumed that successful collaboration depended on the constellation of the team, among other things, we now know what is really crucial for this: psychological safety.

"Psychological safety is the shared belief of all members of a team that it is safe (within the team) to take interpersonal risks" (Edmondson 1999).

Psychological safety is NOT about a specific counterpart or individual convictions in the team. It is about the basic population, i.e. the entire team. As a team member, how do I think the team will react to action xy? Do I make suggestions in the team without being afraid of the reaction? etc.

The role of the manager

If you look at the question of how psychological safety can be strengthened, you will find many tools at team level. As a team phenomenon, this seems to make perfect sense, but at the same time the question arises as to how managers can provide effective support here:

A question of attitude

The basic attitude of the manager is much more decisive than individual actions in day-to-day work. Managers have a major influence on the working atmosphere and therefore also shape the psychological safety of the team. As a first step, it is important to critically scrutinise the psychological safety in the company as a manager. Managers should not harbour any false illusions, as the perceived reality will most likely be distorted.  Just because hardly anyone comes forward with ideas at meetings does not mean that no one has an idea or does not want to participate in the process. Perhaps many are not in favour of putting forward their own ideas because the reactions to them have been negative in the past. Communicative situations in particular have a strong influence on psychological safety and are therefore ideal as a learning zone for the team after the reality check. The following three points allow the manager to provide effective support and guidance in the learning process  :

Own illustration, based on Goller & Laufer (2018)


As a manager, you can and should actively support psychological safety, even if or precisely because it is a team phenomenon. The basic attitude of the manager and the creation of learning zones are crucial for building and strengthening psychological safety.

This might also interest you:


Goller, Ina & Laufer, Tanja (2018). Psychological safety in companies.

Edmondson, Amy (1999). Psychological safety and learning behaviour in work teams.