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Building high-performance teams through action learning

Peter Cauwelier

Action Learning: Research and Practice, 2019, vol. 16, issue 1, 68-76

Abstract: Team psychological safety is critical to team learning. When a team feels safe to talk about difficult issues and each team member feels comfortable to express feelings and ideas, the team continuously learns and improves its performance. Amy Edmondson identified team psychological safety in 1999 as a key to high-performance teams, and Google confirmed this in an internal research project in 2015. A lot has been written about team psychological safety, but very few research or experiences demonstrate how to increase the level of psychological safety in a team. The author has measured psychological safety in a team before and after a series of action learning sessions. The results are very encouraging: action learning increases the average level of psychological safety in the team and reduces the dispersion in team members’ evaluation of team psychological safety. A test was made to verify if the mere dynamic of team members participating in a facilitated workshop would have the same impact on the level of psychological safety, but this was not the case. It can therefore be concluded that action learning has a significant impact on team psychological safety and helps a team move toward high-performance.

Date: 2019
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