What happened the last time you made a mistake?

Have you ever wanted to ask a question during a meeting, but didn’t because you thought you should already know the answer? Or have you noticed an issue with a project but kept it to yourself because you were afraid of calling out a team member’s mistake? While it may feel safer to not ask questions, admit weaknesses or share critiques, you end up missing out on something important: small learning opportunities that help you and your team grow.

Dr. Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School, studies the relationship between successful teams and how they handle mistakes. When she began her research in 1999, she hypothesized that the most successful teams would make the fewest mistakes. Surprisingly, this was not the case! She discovered that the most successful teams made more mistakes. However, they were open and candid about them and used them as learning tools. From this research, Edmondson identified the concept of “psychological safety,” or the belief that you won’t be punished for making a mistake (Delizonna, 2017).

Edmondson explains that psychological safety is not about being “nice” to each other; it is about trust. Building trust through candid feedback, shared learning, and the ability to admit mistakes without fear (“Creating Psychological Safety,” 2019). The concept of psychological safety impacts employees at all levels and, therefore, the overall success of your team.

The alternative – a lack of trust between team members – can create a culture of blame, denial, and cover-ups, which stems from wanting to look competent in front of our colleagues. How does this impact a team’s success? When employees do not have psychological safety, they don’t share new ideas, innovation is slowed and competitive advantage stalls; the team suffers. Healthy teams still have issues, they just have a positive way to channel mistakes into learning opportunities and improvements.

So, what happens if you make a mistake at work? If you are a leader, what happens if someone on your team makes a mistake? If you’re told to keep your eyes down and “don’t rock the boat” these are warning signs that your team is in trouble. How can you improve psychological safety on your team? Key aspects of a psychologically safe work environment include learning and practicing resiliency skills and modeling behavior that will help others feel safe.

Psychologically safe environments include many different expressions. To help you begin to think about your work environment, do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

  • I can express my opinions and ideas without fear of negative consequences from my team, my supervisor, or my peers.
  • I am encouraged to take risks and try things.
  • When I make a mistake, I can easily own it.
  • My supervisor helps us get comfortable with failure.
  • There is a humble spirit that allows us to try new ideas.
  • I work in an environment where respect is shown to all employees.
  • We can work through conflict productively.
  • Accountability is evident for both supervisors and employees.
  • Mistakes are “lessons learned.”

Interested in learning more about psychological safety? MSU faculty and staff can access the resources below for free on elevateU, including Edmondson’s new book, The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth.  

Free elevateU Resources Featuring Dr. Edmondson’s Research:



Instructor-Led Courses to Help Build Relevant Skills:

Delizonna, L., Tjan, A. K., Walker, C. A., D’Souza, S., & Renner, D. (2017, August 24). High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create It. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/08/high-performing-teams-need-psychological-safety-heres-how-to-create-it

Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace. (2019, January 22). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/ideacast/2019/01/creating-psychological-safety-in-the-workplace

Get your department involved with the Spartan Project SEARCH Program!

The MSU Dairy Store is one of the most popular places on campus, whether you’re visiting campus for the first time or taking a walk on your lunch break – everyone stops by to get their favorite scoop of ice cream. The Dairy Store has not only been a place for students and families to come, but it has also been a part of a special and unique program on campus that focuses on students with disabilities.

The Spartan Project SEARCH Program aims to help students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program helps students build skills in communication, customer service and working with others, among various other skills. The program offers employment opportunities with different departments on campus through internship opportunities. Students in the program work with a mentor to help with their time at the job sites and transiting after graduation.  One of the smiling faces you may meet at the Dairy Store is a Spartan Project SEARCH Program graduate.

Spartan Project SEARCH graduate Cash helping a male customer at the counter in the MSU Dairy Store.
Spartan Project SEARCH graduate, Cash.

Cash Verhil has been part of the Spartan Project SEARCH Program for the last year. Cash works at the Dairy Store part-time and a restaurant in Lansing. The Spartan Project SEARCH Program has helped him gain skills in feeling more confident in interacting with people. According to Cash, the biggest takeaways from his work at the Dairy Store have been “gaining independence, being responsible and customer service.” This fall, Cash will be a student at Lansing Community College and hopes to transfer to MSU to study Human Resources or Economics.

“Cash has always been willing to help and do whatever task is necessary,” commented Brekelle Wiedenmannott, Dairy Store Manager. This program has helped Cash’s personal journey and equipped him with skills he can apply to his other job.

The program not only helps students gain job skills, but it is also beneficial for the departments that employ them. “With hiring from the program, you’re able to see how far the student has come,” said Wiedenmannott. Wiedenmannott has been able to watch Cash’s progress and enjoys having him as part of the team.

The Spartan Project SEARCH Program has internship sites throughout campus from the College of Communications Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, the Dairy Store and more. This program not only brings skills for employment but confidence as well for the students. Cash’s mentor, Johnny Wenzel, has worked with the program for the last two years. “Seeing how [the interns] are growing and learning new skills are the highlights of my day,” commented Wenzel.

The number one goal from the program is having the interns find employment after they graduate. The program hopes to have more departments get involved as internship sites for their students. If you’re interested in getting your department involved in the program, mentoring or learning more about internship possibilities, visit the Spartan Project SEARCH website for information. And next time you’re at the Dairy Store, say hi to Cash and get a scoop of his favorite ice cream – the Sesquicentennial Swirl.

Job of the week – Business Operations Manager

This week’s job of the week is a Business Operations Manager (#595096) for the Center for Regional Food Systems in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. This position is seeking an individual to manage daily operations, financial and personnel procedures, processes and management activities of the center.

The responsibilities for this role include setting up new operational systems, supporting the director in the annual review process and supporting operational procedures. Other responsibilities for this role include maintaining systems to track award income and calculating and preparing cost distributions.

The ideal candidate would possess knowledge acquired by completing a four year college degree program in a business-related field or in a field which corresponds to the particular department of employment; three to five years of related and progressively more responsible or expansive work experience in-office procedures and administration, or in performing responsible related to the financial and operational activities of the employing unit; experience in a supervisory role; experience with word processing, database, spreadsheet, presentation software; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

For more details on the responsibilities of this position, and to view all our current postings, visit careers.msu.edu. Internal applicants should access postings through the Careers @ MSU tile in the EBS Portal.

Life is full of legal situations – legal insurance can help

Legal insurance is a bit like health insurance; you never know when you might need it, but it helps when you have to pay for doctor or attorney fees. While you may think you have no use for legal insurance, it covers more services than you realize. You can get help with things like financial counseling, divorce, and traffic ticket representation. Do you need to do estate planning or establish your will and inheritance rights? If you’re getting married, do you need to create a will leaving everything to your new spouse? MSU offers ARAG® Legal Insurance as an optional benefit to MSU employees. Learn more in the following video:

ARAG can give you legal advice and consultation when you’re facing legal issues. If you use their legal representation, ARAG can act on your behalf to make sure your legal matters are handled correctly. ARAG offers two coverage plans: the Ultimate Advisor and Ultimate Advisor Plus. Both plans feature an Education Center, advice, and representation. To compare more information on these two different plans, visit the MSU Human Resources website.

An ARAG Plan Member named Philip had the following to say about their plan: "It provided me with quick and clear guidance on how to obtain an attorney, what information they would require and eased the financial burden of taking on legal action."

It’s never too early to start planning ahead so you’re prepared for the unexpected. Start thinking now about your goals for this coming year and what kind of legal coverage or representation you might need. You can enroll in ARAG Legal Insurance during Open Enrollment in October.

Active employees – want to receive more information about voluntary benefits like ARAG and discounts? Opt-in to receive emails from MSU Benefits Plus.

Job of the week – Research Speech-Language Pathologist/Speech Therapist I

This week’s job of the week is a Research Speech-Language Pathologist (#593452) for the Department of Radiology in the College of Human Medicine. This position is seeking an individual to perform speech history interviews and standardized speech-language testing for children participating in the department’s research studies.

The responsibilities for this role include utilizing measures such as the Stuttering Severity Index (SSI-4) and Test of Childhood Stuttering (TOCS). Documentation of all evaluations must be done with accuracy, detail, and within a timely manner.

The ideal candidate would possess knowledge equivalent to that which normally would be acquired by completing one or two years of post-bachelor’s degree work, such as a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology; one to three years of related and progressively more responsible or expansive work experience evaluating and providing speech therapy to traumatic brain injured and aphasic populations; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

For more details on the responsibilities of this position, and to view all our current postings, visit careers.msu.edu. Internal applicants should access postings through the Careers @ MSU tile in the EBS Portal.

MSU employees call Teladoc “a game changer”

When you or a family member gets sick, it can be hard to fit in a trip to the doctor’s office – especially if sickness strikes in the middle of the night. Next time you need non-urgent medical care, remember you and your dependents (who are enrolled in an MSU health plan) have access to Teladoc – a service that gives you 24/7 access to a health care professional via web, phone or mobile app.

Teladoc treats general medical conditions including: cold/flu, bronchitis, allergies, pink eye, upper respiratory infections, Dermatology conditions including: skin infection, acne, skin rash, abrasions, moles/warts, Behavioral Health conditions including: stress/anxiety, depression, addiction, domestic abuse, grief counseling, and much more!

You can use Teladoc to treat a range of conditions including cold/flu, bronchitis, allergies, pink eye, dermatology and more. Jaclyn Sayen, an Administrative Assistant for the RHS Planning and Projects Office, is a big fan of Teladoc, “I’ve used it multiple times to treat pink eye for my two children…You can submit a photo (if you’d like), and I received a call back (video or voice) within 10 minutes from requesting an appointment from a licensed provider.” The average wait time to speak to a health care provider is less than 10 minutes – far quicker than sitting in a waiting room at your local urgent care or scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician.  

Quote from Jaclyn Sayen, an MSU employee: "I use Teladoc all the time. It's a game changer."

In Jaclyn’s case, the doctor decided a prescription was medically necessary, “And I was prescribed medication that was sent to a pharmacy nearest, as we were out of state at the time.” A prescription can be sent to any pharmacy in the USA, which is an excellent option if you or a family member gets sick on vacation.

Plus, you receive care at a time that is convenient for you – even the middle of the night. Vivianne Robinson, the HR Director for University Advancement, was especially grateful for Teladoc’s 24/7 service, “My husband has used it twice – the first time was 2 a.m.! They were great, fast and free.”

Jayme Bisard is a Secretary for the MSU Intercollegiate Athletics department and she agrees Teladoc is super convenient: “I called for a very basic, minor thing. It didn’t cost any money and I had a prescription called in that I could pick up right at lunch!” Using Teladoc is free for most MSU employees enrolled in an MSU health plan, the exception being those who enroll in the CDHP with HSA health plan. These folks will pay the full charge until their annual deductible is met.

Sounds great! How do I get started?

Visit the Teladoc website and click on “Member Login” to set up your Teladoc account. When you need medical advice, you can receive convenient, quality care from a licensed health care professional in three easy steps:

  1. Request: ask for a visit with a doctor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by web, phone or mobile app.
  2. Visit: talk to the doctor. Take as much time as you need to explain your medical situation – there’s no limit.
  3. Resolve: if medically necessary, a prescription will be sent to the pharmacy of your choice.

Questions? Contact Teladoc directly at 1-800-Teladoc or visit the Teladoc website. You can also download the Teladoc app.

Job of the week – Secretary II

This week’s job of the week is a Secretary II (#591122) for the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. This position is seeking an individual to provide support for both the Mechanical Engineering main office and the undergraduate advisor program.

The responsibilities for this role include assisting in making travel arrangements for faculty, staff, and students when requested, departmental ordering and processing online registrar forms. Other responsibilities for this role include providing general office support to the undergraduate advisor, entering data and communicating information to faculty, staff, and students.

The ideal candidate would possess knowledge acquired through completion of a high school education with coursework in typing and shorthand; one to three years of related and progressively more responsible work experience in word processing, spreadsheet, database, desktop publishing, calendaring and/or presentation software typing and filing; and may require knowledge of technical or medical terminology and/or technical training related to the field of employment; may require bilingual abilities in a specific language or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

For more details on the responsibilities of this position, and to view all our current postings, visit careers.msu.edu. Internal applicants should access postings through the Careers @ MSU tile in the EBS Portal.

Nationwide pet insurance can help you save!

Taking care of your pet is like taking care of someone in your family – you want nothing but the best for them. But sometimes having a pet can be costly. Did you know that as an MSU benefit-eligible employee, you have the option to purchase pet insurance through Nationwide?

One of the benefits of having pet insurance is that you can receive 90% back on your vet bills. Another benefit is you’re not paying out-of-pocket all at once. Having pet insurance allows you to pay a low annual deductible, while having a generous annual benefit. The more pets you have, the more savings you acquire. The My Pet Protection is one of the plans offered from Nationwide. This plan has a low $250 annual deductible and a $7,500 maximum annual benefit.

If your pet has any preexisting condition it will not be covered with Nationwide. However, My Pet Protection covers a large list of conditions such as:

  • Accidents (broken bones, injuries, cuts)
  • Common illnesses (ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Serious/chronic illnesses (cancer and diabetes)
  • Surgeries
  • X-rays (MRIs and CT scans)
  • Prescriptions medications and therapeutic diets

With Nationwide pet insurance, you have access to a veterinary professional 24/7 as well as emergency boarding, lost pet advertising and more. Coverage is available for cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, and reptiles. To find out if your pet is eligible for coverage, call Nationwide at 888-899-4874. You can enroll anytime in this benefit at MSU Benefits Plus by selecting your pet (cat or dog), providing your zip code and picking your plan. The coverage period will depend on when your policy is issued.

For more information on pet insurance, visit the MSU HR website or get a free quote today on the Nationwide website.

Job of the week – Research Assistant III

This week’s job of the week is a Research Assistant III (#591496) for the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in the College of Natural Science.  This position is seeking an individual to be part of a vibrant research environment using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to address a broad range of biological questions in various areas.

The successful candidate will obtain a leadership role to oversee daily operations, instrument support and user training. A strong background in protein biochemistry, cryo-EM grid preparation and sample optimization for cryo-EM structure determination is required.

The ideal candidate would possess knowledge by completion of one or two years of post-bachelor degree work, such as a Master’s in biochemistry, biophysics, or structural biology; one to three years of related and progressively more responsible or expansive work experience in research methodologies, software, optimization, data collection or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

For more details on the responsibilities of this position, and to view all our current postings, visit careers.msu.edu. Internal applicants should access postings through the Careers @ MSU tile in the EBS Portal.