“Psychological Safety” is Vital for Sellers and Sales Teams
March 15, 2024
The Cringe Podcast - Episode 2 - Matt Cameron
Are  the members of your team comfortable taking calculated risks, role playing, and checking in regularly with their managers? If the answer is yes, you’ve created an environment that nurtures psychological safety and this can enhance both individual performance and the performance of the entire team.  

If the answer is no, you’re ignoring an important aspect of individual and team development that deserves immediate attention before the situation worsens. 

I recently completed a series of in-depth interviews with a variety of sellers from different backgrounds and at different stages of their careers for a research project exploring the outcomes for teams and managers lacking psychological safety in their environments. The impact is devastating to both the seller and the organization. 

Though this research has not yet been published there is a magnitude of research on the topic dating back to 1965, exploring how confident and secure individuals felt about their ability to manage change. The term “psychological safety” was first introduced to the literature in 1990, and there have been more than 4,000 articles and books written on the topic exploring the impact it has on teams, individuals and performance.

What is the profile of a team that has low to no psychological safety? For starters, there is an environment of fear, judgment and distrust. Team members are hesitant to share or collaborate, disclose concerns, and there is a reluctance to role play and get feedback because of a fear of being fired or ridiculed.

According to a variety of articles in a review of the literature on psychological safety in Human Resource Management Review, teams without psychological safety don’t learn as effectively from mistakes, struggle to adapt to change, negatively impacting performance.

The result is a culture that is cautious and unwilling to innovate.  Sales teams are hesitant to try new ideas that could lead to increased sales because they fear failure. This type of culture is siloed with limited or no collaboration, and when feedback is given, it often points to the negative what’s wrong – rather than constructive criticism that leads to improvement, personal development and gains.

Creating a culture of psychological safety in sales teams starts with purposeful efforts by sales leaders to model positive behaviors: encouraging collaboration, being vulnerable, normalizing mistakes as learning opportunities to share, and offering support through training that provides constructive feedback and nurturing. 

While managers struggle to prioritize mentorship and coaching time because they have ever-increasing administrative burdens, new tools are emerging on the market that provide a safe environment for the practice, coaching and feedback that drive engagement, collaboration, support and improve seller performance. 

When sellers get adequate practice and coaching, they become more confident and are willing to share when things go wrong. When this happens, the entire organization gains knowledge because sellers collaborate and are more engaged, and this leads to higher levels of commitment and satisfaction on the sales team. Finally, the research to date shows that teams with psychological safety have higher levels of customer satisfaction and overall team and sales performance. 

If you are managing a team and don’t feel you have time to provide the mentorship and coaching with feedback your team needs, explore the options technology and AI can offer to enable you to create a higher level of psychological safety for your team to thrive.

This content was created by Stefanie Boyer

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