Disappointment Can Damage Morale and Motivation

Posted on

I’;m sure most of us, at one time or another, have had a project canceled, or report / presentation we’;ve been working on changed by our manager with little explanation. You’;ve put a lot of effort in to the detail, worked long hours to get it completed, put your heart and soul into the results. What do you think and feel if that piece of work then gets canceled or changed, or even seems to be ignored?

I have to admit, that I’;ve been guilty of reviewing some work that one of my team has done (excellent work at that), and then been so interested in taking that information and pushing it to the next stage, that I’;ve not taken the time or effort to actually tell that person that I appreciated what was given to me and the effort that had been put in to the results so far. I did thank them, but certainly did not communicate that their work had been essential for us to base our next decisions on, I just carried on. And the worst bit for me was that another of my team had to explain to that individual how appreciative I actually was, just by virtue of what we were doing with it.

When the same thing has happened to me, I know I’;ve felt de-motivated. With a project, for instance, that’;s been worked on for months, has its budget cut or is de-prioritized, it’;s disappointing to say the least. It can drain our energy and confidence, and could affect our future objectives and goals.

So, what would you have likened your boss to have done or said, when you were in that situation:

  • Is there anything that can be salvaged and produced from the data so far?
  • Is there some learning that could have been shared with your team?
  • Could you have been asked to present the information anyway?
  • Provided a detailed explanation of the thinking behind the decision made?
  • Provided feedback on your contribution, and how those skills can be transferred?

As a leader, there will be times when your team are disappointed in a decision or action made. As well as the above, it could be if a presentation goes wrong, a client is lost, or a promotion is not achieved. But helping to reduce the disappointment, learn from mistakes, and communicate effectively is part of a leader’;s essential skill set.

Disappointment is the difference between what we had expected and what was achieved. Sometimes that difference can be small and easily managed, and sometimes it is much more damaging to individual and team morale and motivation.

So, as a leader, as well as managing any disappointments you personally have, consider the following with your team:

  • Communicating effectively, demonstrating an understanding of where disappointment could be triggered.
  • What can be learned from the setback?
  • Understanding motivational needs and how you can provide opportunities for improvement.
  • Encourage feedback and build a trusting environment for open discussion of concerns and issues.
  • Ensure that goals remain just as challenging, as there can be a tendency to make targets easier to avoid future disappointments.
  • What can you and your team members learn from themselves through this situation? Self-awareness provides insight into motivational needs and stress triggers, which can be discussed and understood during real time analysis.

What examples do you have of these types of situations, and how can you learn from that to leader your team in the future?