Leader micropractices, or micro-actions, take five minutes or less to implement. Some take no more than five seconds. Executing these small practices or actions is simple, improves connections, and makes a considerable impact on the wellbeing of individuals and teams. Even a short and meaningful “thank you” goes a long way to developing better relationships. Psychological safety contributes to happiness, which creates an environment for increased productivity within an organization.
Macropractice Leadership vs. Micropractice Leadership
Macropractice leadership is more about strategy, overall vision, and future planning of the organization as a whole.
Micropractice leadership uses small day-to-day actions to improve connections and the wellbeing of individual team members.
It’s important to distinguish between the two levels of leadership. Leaning toward macropractices can create a tendency to forget the importance of daily micropractices. It can cause a downward spiral in a team’s psychological wellbeing, causing burnout and reduced productivity.
5 Steps to Micropractice Awareness
Most leaders have an understanding of micropractices, with many leaders using them daily. However, some leaders lack awareness about how and when to apply them effectively, or who might benefit the most from their words and actions.
Leaders should take five steps to put micropractices into action:
- Observe themselves in smaller slices of time during interactions
- Identify situations that can benefit from new actions
- Brainstorm alternative micropractices that encourage change in a routine
- Determine one or two new microactions to intentionally engage
- Visualize themselves executing the micropractice
In daily interactions and conversations, leaders should slow down and discover what micropractices are already being applied or could be applied. Take the time to identify situations and scenarios that can benefit from new micropractices. Leaders should learn what micropractices they tend to use and those they don’t.
Some questions to help leaders identify their current micropractices are:
- Do you choose to speak or withhold your voice?
- What is the volume of your voice?
- What is the tone of your voice?
- Which facial expressions do you use most often?
- Which gestures do you tend to use?
Once leaders are aware of their current micropractices, they can then brainstorm new or alternative micropractices that can further improve their connections and the wellbeing of their team members. A leader might recognize their voice volume is negatively impacting their relationship with team members. They may become aware that serious facial expressions during conversations are causing extreme distress to an individual’s wellbeing.
Building a new habit is easiest when one micropractice is used at a time. Leaders should select a micropractice that will deliver the most significant win by positively impacting the largest number of team members. The last step is to visualize the successful execution of a new micropractice and then perform that action daily to cement it into a habit.
Leader Micropractices to Adopt Today
Examples of micropractices that leaders can adopt to promote psychological safety are:
- Giving thanks and recognition for specific contributions
- Avoiding blame or criticism of team members in public
- Listening and focusing to understand better
- Encouraging feedback
- Offering to help employees and following up with them
- Insisting on having alternative points of view
Giving thanks is simple and highly effective at boosting the well-being of a team member in seconds. The key to acknowledging accomplishments is making sure leaders say thank you with deep intention and direct it at a specific contribution. Something as simple as saying, “Hey Robert, I really appreciate that you picked up that equipment the other day. Thank you.”
When there is a problem, instead of calling a team member out in front of his or her co-workers, a leader can be more empathetic by mentioning the issue in private. Leaders should work on active listening and focusing more on their interactions with individual team members experiencing challenges. Instead of walking around, or fiddling with a work computer, give team members undivided and undistracted attention for a few short minutes.
Team members feel more respected when leaders stop what they are doing to show respect for their problems. This not only improves connections but also creates more trust between leaders and team members. Organizations and leaders who share differing viewpoints between team members create a psychologically safer environment that promotes honest and productive relationships.
Promoting Psychological Safety Through Micropractice Leadership
Psychological safety needs to be viewed with the same level of importance as physical safety. Leaders can build awareness around their micropractices and start using them effectively to create a safer workplace. The fourth quarter of 2021 is a great time to reflect on current habits and develop actions that can help leaders make a deep, meaningful, and positive impact on their team’s psychological wellbeing going into a new year.
In as little as five seconds, an encouraging sentiment or action can improve connections that multiply and lead to a larger sense of confidence and optimism within an organization.