How to Motivate Your Employees After a Disappointment

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At one time or another we all suffer setbacks and disappointments, and sadly when this happens at work it can be hard to get motivated again. Not achieving something we’ve worked hard for, whether in the form of not meeting a target or deadline, losing a contract or not receiving funding, can be disappointing and demoralizing for individuals as well as the whole team.

When situations like this arise it’s not unusual for employees to look to management for a morale boost and to lead the way in moving forward. While this might seem like a daunting task, there are many ways to rally the troops, and ensure staff feel motivated and energized.

Understand what Happened

Before you can move on from an issue it’s important to understand why the disappointment occured. While you might think it’s raking over old ground, learning from mistakes ensures they won’t happen again. Objectively reviewing what happened can help provide a clearer idea of what you can do differently next time. Preparing for similar future events or tasks will help staff feel like they are well-equipped to deal with it next time, and create positivity in knowing they won’t repeat the same mistakes.

Communicate Openly

Sometimes disappointments can affect an entire team or company. Therefore it’s important to address the situation openly to avoid gossip. Speak realistically about the disappointment rather than sugar coat things. This encourages an environment of open dialogue and discourse. Listen to your members as they share pieces of information and their feelings. Communication will also allow you to tell employees what they’re doing right and congratulate them on hard work. After all one set back isn’t indicative of the whole situation.

Take Time Out

A team day can do wonders to boost morale, allowing employees to get away from the office environment and do something a bit different. Think about what your employees would enjoy doing and what your budget will allow. Even something simple like a sports day or a picnic can be enough to take your employees out of the situation and have some fun. Socializing with colleagues in a low stress, casual environment can encourage them to form lasting bonds that stretch into the office and generally improve happiness.


Take some time to sit down with employees, discuss their performance and ask them what they would like to get from their role. You may discover simple changes that can be made to make their day more interesting, or particular tasks they would like ownership of. Discussing these issues with them can help them feel like things are getting back on track and that they won’t be judged for past failures. If they’ve produced good work, or you feel they should be given recognition for something make sure you vocalize this. Praise makes everybody feel good, but only if it’s genuine, so put careful thought into it.


Positivity and passion are contagious, so be passionate about the company and your job, and it will rub off on your employees. When things go wrong don’t dwell on them; instead try to move onwards and upwards and encourage those around you to do the same.

Create Vision

Working towards a shared vision helps motivate people. Getting back in touch with this vision after a setback will remind the team what they are aiming for. Seeing a product in action or just getting reacquainted with your software, for example, will inspire, re-energize and refresh individuals.

Provide Training

Training employees will strengthen their skills and give them more confidence in their abilities. Ask employees which areas they feel like they need more training in and think about in which areas there is room for improvement. Training sessions can help team members bond and work on skills in order to ensure mistakes aren’t repeated.

Be Supportive

Training and learning from events are all well and good, but sometimes the thing that helps the most is knowing that you are supported and not being penalized for a mistake or a disappointing result. Let your employees know that you are available should they wish to talk things over and discuss how to improve the situation.

It’s important for you to have support as well as a leader, so ensure that you have someone you can go to for help and advice.

While disappointments have the power to cause self-doubt and upset, it’s important not to let that become the over-riding result. By implementing even just a few of our tips it’s possible to motivate staff again and learn from the situation in order to avoid it happening again. While the saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ can be a cliche, in business it’s pretty spot-on; building staff up again after a disappointment can and should result in a more motivated, stronger and more experienced team.

Author Bio: Will Bridges is an HR Consultant at Unum, one of the UK’s leading financial protection insurers. Unum specialises in providing Income Protection through the workplace, and is committed to helping the UK’s workforce get a back-up plan. Visit them online at: