What is the SAFETY Model and How Do We Use It?

Posted on February 6, 2022.

Over on our Instagram (@globalguardians), we’ve been talking about our office culture and what we do to maintain good communication within our teams. Though we don’t pretend to be perfect, we do try to use varying methods of communication, and one of the things we do is follow the psychological safety model.


The psychological safety model is based around the acronym of S.A.F.E.T.Y and each letter stands for something that should be considered when you’re getting to know and learning to communicate with various members of the team.


This safety model helps us to figure out how psychological safety can have an impact on team performance and helps everyone to better understand the unconscious biases that may affect their behaviour and how they react. It’s based largely on the individuals needs and triggers, and how the team can learn to support each other and adapt based on what those are.


SAFETY stands for Security, Autonomy, Fairness, Esteem, Trust and You. Depending on a person’s individual need, they will be affected differently by each of these.


Security is about a persons need for predictability. If someone has a high security need, they would appreciate consistency, certainty and a higher level of detail when being given tasks or projects. An individual with a high security need might want to know everything about a project before undertaking work for it and might feel stressed if given little to no detail. Whereas someone with a low security need might not want detail and might even get more stressed when being told a lot of information about a project.


The Autonomy need relates to a persons need to feel they have control over their surroundings and are given choices and options. If someone has a high autonomy need and feels as if their surroundings are out of their control, they might get triggered and feel under more pressure than is necessary. Take into consideration how things such as that might affect a team members ability to do their work and try to communicate with them on how to resolve any issues. A low autonomy need would be the opposite of this.


Fairness is about a persons need for experiencing fair exchanges. This could be in regards to others or even the conversations they have themselves. If someone with a high fairness need doesn’t feel as if they are being represented in a conversation, or feels as if something unfair is happening in an exchange, they might get triggered by this and struggle to come to terms with a solution.


The Esteem need derives from how we see ourselves, compare ourselves to others, how we are regarded and how we think others see us. Esteem plays a role in our perception of a number of things and can be detrimental if not considered within a team. If someone with a high esteem need doesn’t get the praise they think they’re deserved, it could cause problems or leave them feeling as if the work they’re doing isn’t valued. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an individual with a low esteem need might prefer to be praised privately or not at all. They might feel their work deserves praise but they don’t necessarily need it in order to continue working hard.


T stands for trust, and in this case, that is in regards to the team as a whole and how an individual trusts those they work with. Trust is integral to a team, without it, it would be hard to rely on co-workers and impact productivity and the general wellness of the team as a whole. Hight trust need means a person must trust their team, otherwise they struggle. This kind of person probably enjoys working in a group and feels happiest when they can rely on their team for help and support. Someone with a low trust need might prefer to work alone which isn’t always helpful if it’s necessary for them to partake in a team.


The last element of the SAFETY model is You. These are factors unique to an individual, including but not limited to; learned behaviours, biases, their personality profile, how they’re influenced and factors from their past. The You of the SAFETY model is arguably the element which has the most impact as it directly affects whether a person has a high or low need. Understanding an individual’s biases, context, influences and personality type will help the team as a whole understand how they can help each other and communicate more effectively.


But how do Global Guardians use this on a day-to-day basis?


Well, it’s actually much simpler than you might expect. When we have someone starting with us, we include a personality test as a part of the training which helps us better understand the individual right from the get go. We regularly have culture meetings which reinforce the team work that’s so important for us and, as well as that, our culture is a huge part of every decision we make. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to work as a team and we wouldn’t be able to provide the services that we do.


We’re constantly striving to improve communication and team work at Global Guardians and we hope that’s reflected in the changes we’ve made this past year and how we progress into 2022.

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