What strengthens and weakens psychological safety in sales teams under Covid-19 and sudden virtuality?
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- Master of Science 
March 2020, the world was surprised by Covid-19, a fast-spreading pandemic, which forced organizations, such as Tech-Org, to suddenly overnight work virtually. Our research setting is Tech-Org, an international organization that develops and sells HR technology. We have examined how the pandemic and sudden virtuality, as external factors, impact psychological safety in sales teams; more specifically, “what strengthens and weakens psychological safety in sales teams under Covid-19 and sudden virtuality?” We did a multiple-case study, and our research methods were semi-structured interviews and observation. Our units of analysis were three sales teams, where we interviewed 12 participants, including team members and leaders. We have constructed a table illustrating our aggregated dimensions as emerging changes with virtuality that weaken and strengthen psychological safety through our analysis. Our findings suggest that external factors urge the leaders to buffer for external uncertainty. Also, sudden virtuality exaggerates the distance and already individualized seller role. Moreover, employees grapple with the new normal and virtuality differently, where domestic relations, age, and experience are crucial. There is a gap between oldtimers and newcomers where individuals express themselves differently due to age and experience. Also, findings show that individuals struggle with informal and spontaneous interactions with virtuality due to a lack of physical cues, which leaders proactively respond to by increasing planned sessions. In addition, we found that culture, heart-to-heart and one-on-ones, digital appreciation, and virtual celebrations build interpersonal relations. Findings insinuate that employees respond to failure differently. In addition, leaders approaching uncertainty and their overall leadership are critical. In conclusion, several reactive and proactive changes weaken or strengthen PS under Covid-19 and sudden virtuality, where leaders should make changes to ensure a psychologically safe climate under uncertainty.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Business, Leadership and Change - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2021