When you manage or lead an organization, you will eventually face the opportunity of dealing with disappointment with team members' performance. The circumstances vary, but the disappointment can sting quite a bit. Consider these thoughts about how to manage disappointment with a team member's performance.
Are you able to separate something that was done from something they are?
At first, this may not make a whole lot of sense, but it will. It's important to separate the action from the character of the person. Did they do something, or is there something in their character that causes the disappointment? In most cases, it's what someone did that causes the disappointment. If you can disconnect what they did from who they are, it will allow you to manage the situation easier.
Find out the disappointment circumstances – a case of good intentions gone bad?
If you have a situation where a team member tried to do their best, and it ended up being a mistake or a failure, keep the matter in perspective. You don't want a whole lot of mistakes, but you do want team members who are willing to make decisions to improve your organization. If you have a situation, however, where a team member made a decision to do something that was purely a bad decision based on selfishness, you will most likely want to look a lot closer.
Did you make your expectations clear?
In many cases, the bad decisions made could have been avoided with more information and clearer expectations. Did team members understand the expectations? Were you or others in your organization able to make it clear what to do and what not to do? Did the team member acknowledge what was expected and did they understand what to do?
Sometimes we create expectations that are simply out of reach. Do we know if the team member can meet those expectations? Most people won't let their team leaders know that they can't meet expectations, especially if they don't have a whole lot of longevity with the organization. Have you checked out the situation against what you are expecting?
Other circumstances involved?
Sometimes there are circumstances, either related to the situation or not, that affect the situation. The way circumstances affect the situation can make a big impact. It may not be necessary to dive into all of the circumstances, but you need to know what happened which kept your team member from achieving the best results.
Here are some good steps to resolve the situation:
Let the team member explain to you about the situation.
Maintain accountability and communication. Don't turn off the opportunity to talk and to speak openly on both ends. You need to assure your team member that you will listen and you will listen with an open mind.
Give the team member the opportunity to resolve the situation.
The best approach is to allow the team member the chance to restore trust and confidence by making things right. A good team member wants to show that he or she has learned what not to do, and then wants to do the right thing. By allowing the team member to fix things, it instills that feeling of trust which grows as the situation improves.
Provide guidance and clarity.
Share your expertise and knowledge. Don't let the mistake happen again. Instead, show that you are with the team member and that you will walk alongside them to find the solutions needed.
Provide additional support when it is necessary or beneficial.
If there is an opportunity to learn and grow, surround the situation with the right resources. Let the team member know that you can and will create a better environment for success.
Complete a debriefing once the situation is fully resolved.
You may not be able to get a positive conclusion or solution. Discuss the situation again with your team member to find out what was learned and what was gained. Recognize both positive outcomes as well as negative ones – don't emphasize one over the other.
Obviously, not every situation is going to turn out well, even if you try to deal with the disappointment with positive action. You may have to complete some disciplinary action, including termination, of your team member. The important point of emphasis in these disappointing situations is to resolve them with constructive strategies. Don't let a disappointing situation sit there without any resolution or effort to make it better.
What do you do to deal with a disappointing situation?