WHY Fronts: Dealing with Disappointment

Published: 21 February 2019 Ezine

This month in Synergy I talk about disappointment and how this can be defined as the gap between expectation and reality. How do you as leaders support staff in dealing with disappointment as well as dealing with your own disappointment?

The disappointment gap: 

  1. Almost always signals a sign for change, a new strategy or approach
  2. Creates a season for growth
  3. Can cause the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism to kick in; a new job/role may seem preferably than facing the disappointment
  4. Means we have to remember why we agreed to lead in the first place
  5. Should never be faced alone, ‘phone a friend’ or talk to someone who has faced this before

Have you ever experienced the points above? Which way did you sway: towards the positive ‘this has something to teach me’ or the ‘fight or flight’ reaction?

In reality you probably have experienced all the feelings associated with disappointment, you are human and not just a leader.

I found an article by The Riverstone Group called How to lead a team through a major disappointment by John Kramp here. 

I have set out the main points below as I found them really helpful and thought you might too.

  1. Share the Facts: - you probably know more about what happened to cause the disappointment than your team; the more information you can share with them the better. There is nothing more frustrating that seeing a disappointment but not understanding why, and if you could have done something about it. Keep it to the facts try not to embellish or protect the team.
  2. Acknowledge that it feels bad: telling the team how you feel allows them to acknowledge their own feelings and hopefully allow them to move on. You will not be able to face the issues you need to change if you and the team have not acknowledged them. Obviously, it is not helpful to dwell on the negative or to be self-indulgent, just tell it as it is.  
  3. Take responsibility and encourage shared accountability: good leaders step up and say, “it’s my responsibility”, however you need to mean it otherwise your team and your managers will see through it. Hopefully your line manager/s will also see their accountability and your team will acknowledge the part they played. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, when I am left ‘high & dry’ I find it helpful to remember my integrity matters to me and I want to demonstrate this.
  4. Invite everyone to learn from the experience: good leaders help their teams learn the lessons of disappointment. It is helpful if you model a learning response, for example by sharing some of the initial lessons you have learned so far.  Then invite your team for any further lessons they have learned from the situation. Debriefing is really important; your team members will have valuable contributions to make, especially if they provide some ideas of how to ‘do it’ better next time. 
  5. Explain the plan to move forward: this is easier said than done. If you don’t want your team to wallow in disappointment, then getting them to focus on the future may help. You may not have formulated a clear action plan but a few simple actions on how to move forward will give a positive focus, whilst you develop an action plan which covers all the identified lessons learned.
  6. Never waste a disappointment: allow your team to feel, learn, develop and grow together. Take the opportunity for yourself to be honest and open with your team, more often than not our teams respect us when we tell the truth, hard though that may be, and the result is that trust is maintained and grows.

Why not think about the above and see if you can use them to motivate or sustain your teams through quality improvement and innovation? If you have any better ideas I would love to hear them. You can contact me at [email protected] or I[email protected]: I am always looking to improve.