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Fostering Psychological Safety in Teams: Evidence from an RCT

  • Series
  • Speaker
    Maria Guadalupe (INSEAD)
  • Field
    Empirical Microeconomics, Organizations and Markets
  • Location
    Erasmus University Rotterdam, Polak 2.04
  • Date and time

    September 25, 2023
    11:30 - 12:30

Abstract: Psychological safety (PsyS) is an important driver of teams’ performance and organizations are keen to foster it. However, there is little causal evidence on what drives it and how to increase it. This paper implements a randomized control trial with over 1000 teams (over 7000 employees) in a global healthcare company to evaluate the impact of individualized attention of the manager to each team member team by encouraging managers to hold frequent 1-to-1 meetings and to focus them on mechanisms expected to increase PsyS. We exogenously vary the content of those meetings: focusing on employees’ needs and aspirations as individuals, or on allowing employees’ to better execute tasks and remove blockers that may hinder their best work. We find that, despite this very non-invasive intervention, the behavior of managers changed as they increased the number of meetings. PsyS also increased as did the relationship to and perceptions of the manager, particularly in the treatment arm that focused on the employees’ individual needs. Joint paper with with Silvia Castro and Florian Englmaier.