1st Mar 2022
3 Min Read

Peace of mind. Why psychological safety is essential for nurturing neurodiverse talent

Lindsay Kohler
Lindsay Kohler
People & Change

This month, our World Changer area of focus is Beautiful Minds, which explores the business benefits and wonderful contributions that different ways of thinking bring to the table.

In particular, the article takes a deep dive into neurodiversity, which is the viewpoint that neurological differences (such as autism) are normal variations in how the brain functions, rather than divergent. While leaders of the neurodiversity movement are careful to point out that conditions such as autism bring both advantages and disadvantages, neurodiversity can enable better decision making by bringing novel ideas and perspectives to the table.

Underpinning the inclusion of diverse viewpoints is, of course, psychological safety. Neurodiversity can’t flourish in an environment where people don’t feel that it’s safe to contribute.

More than just diverse viewpoints: four additional ways psychologically safe workplaces benefit businesses

The following is an excerpt from Even Better If: Building Better Businesses, Better Leaders and Better Selves.

Way #1: spotting the cracks

When things aren’t working as they should, businesses need to know. Your people will be the first to spot those cracks, but they need to feel like they can bring that constructive feedback to the right person’s attention without fear of repercussion. But if people don’t speak up, you won’t get that valuable insight. If people are reticent to speak up in a room, or it’s the same vocal few who dominate with their viewpoints, that could be a warning sign of a psychologically unsafe team dynamic that needs to be addressed.

Way #2: encouraging learning and growing

Workers in inclusive teams are also more likely to receive regular career development. Why? Because one needs to be motivated to provide help to someone else, and this type of pro-social motivation — or helping behaviour — is linked to inclusive environments[i].

Way #3: enabling better decision making

Inclusive teams are more pro-socially motivated. That means they engage in workplace behaviours that are deliberately aimed to benefit others, which can lead to a more harmonious work environment and a greater willingness to collaborate. When teams work together collaboratively, they often make better decisions and have better outcomes — simple as that.

People are also more likely to harness diverse ideas from their team-mates in a psychologically safe environment.

Way #4: people are more likely to take risks

One of our Even Better If contributors sums this ethos up beautifully. “I don’t sit within my own boundaries. If I see something that I think needs fixing, I’ll go and poke around in it, even if it belongs to someone else. I feel like I come from a position of relative safety in the organisation in that I can be disruptive, and I know I’m not going to get sacked for it because the organisation welcomes it.” That attitude takes courage and confidence, which a psychologically safe environment helps create.

While you’re here

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