What are some top tips for keeping up team morale when you’re faced with failure or frustration?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
“Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump — they’ve all failed multiple times in their respective careers. Change your corporate mindset and teach employees that experiencing failure is the only way to succeed — it’s a healthy way to overcome the sting of post-failure frustration and strive toward success.”
“All entrepreneurs go through tough times during their maturation as business leaders. When faced with failure, the best thing that you can do as the leader is to keep an even keel and not get depressed. This is good for you and your team as well. It is hard to believe in a business if the owner doesn’t even believe that problems can be conquered. Therefore, keep your game face on with employees.”
“Too many companies view failure as a weakness. Although too much failure can be fatal, becoming allergic to it is equally dangerous. Your team should know that failure following a solid effort and thorough strategy is nothing to be a shamed of. I like the mantra, “Fail quick; fail often.” Because no one can foretell the future, your team should understand that failure is part of progress. “
“Once you recognize what went wrong, shift your energy and focus to resolving the problem, creating safeguards and identifying issues earlier. Nothing beats down morale faster than wallowing in the mistake. Instead, turn that frustration into an opportunity to do better next time. You’ll also set your team back on path and give them a goal to reach.”
“A big mistake a lot of bosses make is that they try to shield everyone around them from the failure or disaster and handle it alone. The false thinking behind this is normally, “If I tell them something is seriously wrong, they might freak out and jump ship.” The reality almost always tends to be if you are open and honest about the situation, your team will rally around you to find a solution.”
“We follow the saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. When faced with failure, we take a step back and look at what works and what is bleeding. If need be, duties and responsibilities will change, standard procedures are modified, and even shifting around people’s desks helps liven things up and enhance communication between departments.”
“When major failures occur, there’s often nothing that you can do in the short term. The most important goal during a time of significant frustration should be making sure that your team is intact, aligned and energized in order to bounce back. Taking the team bowling, out to a nice dinner or even on a short overnight trip to keep the good will and teamwork strong, which will help you persevere.”
“When times are tough, the worst thing you can do is try to hide the news. Let the team know there’s a rough patch ahead, but that you have faith in them and the business. Take time to answer questions and understand their concerns. They’re the ones who will help you through rough waters, so they deserve to know how the business is performing. You’ll find that most team members will rally to help!”
“If you’re worried about a temporary failure affecting morale, then focus on the morale, not the failure. Fix the problem, but make sure your team is focused on what’s going well instead of what isn’t. Don’t let the first mistake lead to the second.”
“Writing what went wrong on paper was a really good idea for us, as it laid out the big picture on our mistakes. By having a document on what went wrong, we can then fix our processes to prevent the mistake happening all over again. No matter what failure though, we always remind the team that greatness is remembered the most when dealing with trials and tribulations — not just success.”
“Maintain a sense of humor, don’t point fingers, and never, ever cut the team-building portion of your budget. Most importantly, spend some reflecting on your core competencies and those things that got you to where you are. Then, do those things. Throwing a party might help everyone feel better for a night, but ultimately, you need to remind your team why they joined in the first place.”
“If you think about it, most people, whenever faced with issues either are in need to talk to family, friends, psychologist, etc. The times we’ve gone through failures or frustration, the thing we find most effective is talk, talk and talk. We talk to generate ideas, we talk to generate hope, and brainstorm until morale is back up and ready to go even harder.”
“If you’re facing a steady stream of frustration, it’s incredibly wearing. Just a small win — something that can give you a rush and maybe get some momentum going in the other direction — can help morale immensely. It doesn’t have to be particularly big, but it does need to be a clear success that requires some input from everyone on the team.”
“Embrace failure. In fact, encourage your staff to fail regularly. Teach them not to look at failure as defeat but as a missed swing. If you don’t swing, you can’t ever hit the ball.”