60 Seconds with Kirsty Ashman

Kirsty is an experienced senior HR professional having worked for some of the UK’s best-known retailers and hospitality, including working at M.C.F.C. Kirsty is currently the Global People and Culture Director for ISS embedded within Banking.  Kirsty has extensive experience with frontline and mobile workers and was part of the leadership team at M.C.F.C. when their facilities were used support the injured and their families immediately after the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.

Kirsty kindly led our recent I&S round table event discussing Psychological Safety.

Q -What do we mean by “psychological safety?

Psychological safety is where you create a climate that enables an employee to task risks, express opinions, raise questions and admit weaknesses without fear of negative consequences.

Q – How can HR effect psychological safety both from an operational and strategic perspective?

Ensure that there is buy-in from the leadership team of the importance of psychological safety and that there is a culture of open communication – leaders should drive this.  There should be a willingness to take risks, and rather than seeing failure as a negative, see it as a learning opportunity that it comes from taking that risk, and this is accepted.

Q – We have discussed previously the role of Managers when creating psychological safety.  How important is their role of effecting it?

Managers are pivotal!  They are closest to their employees, and they are able to get feedback in real time and a sense-check on how people are feeling.  They need to translate this into improving the business for both employees andcustomers/guests. Quite often the frontline workers will understand the day-to-day business more than the leadership team.

Q – How can we support mobile and remote workers specifically with regards to psychological safety?

HR and management need to build good relationships with open communication that includes checking in regularly.  Make sure mobile and remote workers feel that they are part of the organisation.  It is important to try and get these workers into the office or team environment occasionally to meet with peers, share ideas and create a sense of belonging.

Q – What is your biggest piece of advice to someone working in HR that will help support the psychological safety of their colleagues?

Look at your ways of working.  Don’t be too rigid – understand your employee’s personal circumstances  and look to support them whilst being aligned to the business needs.

Thomas Godden

Thomas Godden

Senior Manager - Commerce & Industry

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