What happens when employees feel unsafe, unheard, and disengaged with their managers or even peers? The result is often underperforming, stressed, and distrustful teams. Consider an industry with high levels of stress and low levels of satisfaction. Certainly, it will see a high employee turnover rate, as is the story of the multifamily industry. Research suggests that teams with high psychological safety earn millions more in revenue, are more productive, better engaged, and less stressed.
Therefore, property management companies and their leaders who want to build high-performing, happy, and content teams need to create a psychologically safe work environment. A place where people are free to share their thoughts with candor without the fear of judgment.
It means sharing issues and errors openly in the workplace without fear of punishment or, in most severe cases, losing their job. In a workplace with high psychological safety, people readily own and accept their mistakes and do not hesitate to take help. This creates a culture of trust and, eventually, a better-performing team.
Every stakeholder wins the game with psychological safety. Companies see an average of $4.3 million more in revenue annually and a 27% reduction in employee turnover. Employees are 50% more productive, 76% more engaged, 74% less stressed, and 29% more satisfied in life.
A common misconception is that psychological safety is naturally present in reasonable employees and workspaces. However, the natural human instinct makes us submissive and wants us to be at least 50% sure before saying anything. Therefore, unless the employees get a safe and encouraging environment, the best ideas can go down the drain, and avoidable mistakes may continue to happen.
Thus, it isn't natural or easy to create an environment where people feel safe expressing their opinion. It requires the leader to nurture the team constantly. Since much effort is required to achieve psychological safety in the workplace, is it worth it?
The benefits of having psychological safety outclass the efforts it requires. Some major benefits are:
Employees who are encouraged and appreciated tend to be four times more productive. It is worth stating that 75% of employees quit their bosses, not the company. So yes, it is worth investing in workplace psychological safety.
First, let's identify the three steps needed to create psychological safety.
Psychological safety to multifamily means bringing it across all three pillars: the onsite teams, the prospects and residents, and the owners.
Set a weekly forum or call where onsite teams can express the issues bogging down their success. For example, labor shortages and job dissatisfaction are significant problems in multifamily. To address the issue, give your teams measurable metrics for their success as a team and as individuals. Create engagement by asking for input on the metrics. Give them time to review the metrics and ask open-ended questions. Ask how I can make you successful. Maybe the answer is a policy change or as simple as adding AI to remove the repetitive tasks. The key is providing an environment where they can speak up, be engaged with the issue at hand, provide transparency, and explain what you intend to do to make their jobs easier.
You can extend psychological safety to prospects and residents by having an environment that establishes two-way communication on all channels. Offering an easy way to communicate and express their ideas or frustration is key to keeping prospects and residents engaged and happy. It is not just taking in their feedback. It needs to be two-way communication. For example, suppose they provide feedback that has already been pitched and tried in the past. A quick explanation as to why that did not work will go a long way toward creating trust in the relationship. Be transparent and see if there is a creative way now that would solve the issue. What failed five years ago can potentially be successful with minor tweaks today.
Third-party management can be a tricky road to navigate and much more tricky to admit to making mistakes. How do you create an open forum with the owner of the building and provide the openness to discuss errors in a manner that will not affect your management contract? First, keep the conversation focused on performance. Everyone has a clear vision of the outcomes and normalizes discussing challenges and solutions. It is prevalent only to report positive results, but true leaders rise with how they respond to challenges. Be transparent from the start and build credibility so that when a genuinely challenging obstacle comes, ownership has confidence that your company and the team will overcome it. The owners will be grateful for the deep insights, and real solutions will be available if all the information is available to everyone.
It is not easy to create an environment where psychological safety is prevalent, particularly for multifamily, which involves many people. However, with the right strategy aiming at each of the groups involved in multifamily, leaders can create an environment where people are encouraged to communicate effectively, be open and own their mistakes. For the onsite teams, the manager should appreciate the employees when they ask for help or admit their mistakes. The manager could then ask questions and work together to develop a plan. For happy and engaged prospects and residents, create a transparent and two-way communication where they can openly share their feedback and concerns. Next, create an open forum for owners where they are free to discuss the problems and errors with a focus on performance.
Remember, all humans are allowed to mess up. And when someone messes up, they need help and guidance to think logically and come up with a solution as soon as possible.
Bresman, H., & Edmondson, A. C. (2022, August 22). Psychological safety, diversity, and team performance. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://hbr.org/data-visuals/2022/03/psychological-safety-diversity-and-team-performance?autocomplete=true
Nickisch, C., & Edmondson, A. (2019). Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace. Harvard Business Review. Other. https://hbr.org/podcast/2019/01/creating-psychological-safety-in-the-workplace
Edmondson, A., & Hugander, P. (2021, June 22). 4 steps to boost psychological safety at your workplace. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2021/06/4-steps-to-boost-psychological-safety-at-your-workplace?autocomplete=true
Edmondson, A. C. (2019). The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the workplace for learning, Innovation, and growth. Wiley.
Summary for Fearless Organization: https://www2.mvcc.edu/shn/pdf/presentations/2022-ann-arbor/The-Fearless-Organization.pdf
Apollo Technical LLC. (2022, August 29).11 surprising Job Satisfaction Statistics (2022). Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.apollotechnical.com/job-satisfaction-statistics/
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-data-highlights-value-of-psychological-safety-in-the-workplace-301469119.html <average of $4.3 million more in revenue per year.>