It happens to even the best teams — a project doesn’t pan out, a potential client chooses a different provider, or the higher-ups aren’t pleased with your results. So how can you help your team recover from a setback?
Acknowledge your own feelings.
Before you can help your team, you need to acknowledge your own feelings about the setback. You’re most likely disappointed — but you may also be tired, surprised, or even upset, depending on what happened. Whatever you’re feeling, acknowledge your emotions and tell yourself it’s okay to feel that way.
Understand the team’s response and validate their emotions.
Your team members may all be feeling different emotions depending on their individual contributions to the project. It’s important to understand how they feel and why they feel that way. By validating their emotions, you show them that you care about the work they did and understand why they’re disappointed or upset.
Give your team members space.
According to Amy Gallo in her Harvard Business Review article “How to Help Your Team Bounce Back From Failure,” it’s okay to give your team some space to process their emotions. In fact, neutral or negative emotions can actually help them analyze the setback.
Objectively analyze what went wrong.
When you feel that everyone’s ready, hold a meeting to objectively analyze what went wrong. Stick to the facts and state what went wrong without calling people out or blaming anyone. After all, you work as a team, so you win or lose as a team, too.
For example, let’s say you work at a marketing firm and you weren’t awarded a project after you worked on a proposal for months. You could state, “We didn’t win the account because we didn’t examine options that would allow us to complete the project faster.”
Discuss the lessons learnt.
Summarize what you can learn from the experience. Using the same example as above, you might state, “We might have been able to offer a faster timeline if we’d looked for a different production company for the corporate videos the client wanted.” In that case, achieving a faster timeline would involve looking for alternative providers than the one you usually use.
Review the team’s goals.
As Brian Scudamore points out in his Forbes article “6 Ways to Motivate and Inspire Your Team After a Setback,” it’s important to get your team motivated to continue to pursue their objectives. It will make them happier and more productive — and when everyone starts focusing on their goals again, you’ll soon see an upswing in employee morale.
Start to look forward.
Once your team is motivated again, discuss the project or projects you’ll be working on in the short and long term. Ask your team for their thoughts on the projects and what actions they believe they should take in order to be successful.
No matter how hard you work and how good your team is, setbacks are inevitable. But with some patience and people skills, you can help your team overcome their disappointment and give them the confidence to tackle future projects with their best efforts — renewed.