How to Create a Psychologically Safe Team Environment and Why It Matters (with Samantha Schak, PM with Purpose).

Galen Low is joined on the show by Samantha Schak, founder and CEO of PM with Purpose. This company helps individuals and companies to empower their project managers so that they can reach their full potential. Samantha Schak also produces a podcast about mental health, called But Have You Considered therapy? Listen to find out how to create a psychologically safe environment for your team and why it is important.
Interview Highlights
Samantha is a person who has dedicated herself to helping others, removing any shame and empowering people to take chances beyond their comfort zones. She is a project leader and improv teacher who has worked together to promote diversity and inclusion in her team and clients. Her projects have also provided psychological safety for everyone involved. [1:14]
Samantha is a cohost of a podcast about mental wellness called “But, Have You Considered Therapy?” [1 to 37]
Samantha became a TikTok fan over the past year. It was even used in branding presentations for project managers. TikTok inspired her to create PM With Purpose, her blog for project managers. [4:46]
Samantha is a serial agency hopper. After working her way up, she moved into marketing and sales roles and then moved into project management. She didn’t realize it was a full-blown discipline. She has worked with many types of clients and projects. She earned her certification in product ownership a few years ago. She really enjoyed it and has been putting it into practice as a strategist at Dockyard. [6:28]
Samantha began improv teaching at the same time she discovered project management. [9:08]
Safety is a result of structure, but flexibility is a result of it. Without structure, you don’t know where you’re going. [11:28]
Psychological safety means being able bring your authentic self and authentic voice to the work you do. It also means being able decipher the immediate situation, from the goals of the project or the company to your personal goals. [12:22]
The safety you create within your team is the first step to creating a safe team.
Samantha Schak Tough conversations can be the most difficult conversations. [21:11]
If you don’t address your concerns, nobody is going to make any real changes.
Samantha Schak In most conversations you need to be curious about intent because it does not always match the impact. It rarely does. [24:08]
One action does not define them, just as one action doesn’t make you. You must stop seeing a pattern. It can lead to toxic behaviors. [25:20]
It can get really messy when you get into power dynamics. But, sticking to your core beliefs about yourself will help you realize that you are just doing your best. [26:00]
You must train your team to not only give feedback but also to receive feedback. [28:41]
We are so prone to ignoring criticism. It is a fine art to give negative feedback. And it is even more important to do this in a D&I lens. [29:42]
Keep your people happy, retain them, and keep your teams healthy. Ask people what feedback they prefer and how they talk about it. [31:51]
Public praise is encouraged. If negative feedback, in private. Set up the rules for the team. [32:49]
Realizing that the way we work together is more important than any product or service we create is a huge step in the right direction.
Samantha Schak Samantha Schak recently participated in a major technical discovery with a brand new team that has been working together for three years. [36:39]
Samantha has been creating these workshops for user story mapping, prioritization and prioritization. [37:19]
Be curious, be open-minded, and realize that they asked great questions that lead to different solutions.

Author: Kody