Team Failure: How to Keep Morale High & Relationships Tight #LeadMorale

How can teams carry on with high morale during and after team failure? Is it automatic that they will? Or is it more likely that they won’t be able to unless leaders and managers intervene? Well, assuming that teams can carry on well after team failure is absurd. When you see the teams that do it well, the leaders, managers, project managers, and team members have taken conscious steps to make it happen. Here’s how you can keep morale high amid team failure.

Team Failure: Image is matchsticks w/ tops burned.

Team Failure: How to Keep Morale High & Relationships Tight. Image by Jeshu John via

Image by Jeshu John via Designer Pics

Keeping Morale High Amid Team Failure

Prepare teams far in advance and along the way on how to keep morale high and relationships tight even amid team failure. If you skip this and simply try to fix it when you see morale sinking and relationships failing, it may be too late.

    Addressing Morale & Relationships in Advance is Key

  1. When a team first forms or when an existing team gets a new set of objectives, discuss the attitudes and beliefs that will keep the team inspired.

  2. Raise the issue of accountability and what it means at the very beginning. For example, when team members make mistakes that threaten the project, what must they do to sustain everyone else’s trust? If they make excuses, point fingers, pass blame, etc… morale and relationships will take a big hit. Then, if the project and the team fail, that lack of accountability along the way will threaten the future performance and morale of that team.

  3. As leaders, managers, and project managers, communicate thoroughly from start to finish. Never let the team members be surprised that the team failed. As you get information that spells disaster for the team, don’t withhold it because you don’t want to demoralize them. Share the information, your ideas on how to overcome the obstacles, and get their ideas as well.

  4. Leading for High Morale for Team Cohesiveness

  5. Recognize personality differences and have team members identify theirs and those of their teammates. Drivers like to go straight to the end result. Analytics like to know the data and proceed methodically. Amiables want tight relationships as the path to the end goal. Expressives thrive on communication and information. Much of the friction on teams can be traced back to personality type. Help them to respect the differences since the are simply different roads to the same end. Else, if the team fails to meet the end result, the disrespect they have for each other will tear the team apart.

  6. Inspire the team members along the way with far more recognition of their talents than most leaders and managers usually give. As you point out how their talents and commitment are feeding project success, the team members get a sense of control over the rocky roads. Even if the project fails, they will remember how hard they all tried.

  7. Amid Team Failure, Don’t Say …

  8. I suppose you all did the best you could. You suppose? Why equivocate? If you have done the above steps, you have addressed performance along the way. Now tell them how proud you are of them to sustain the team morale and relationships. You can dig into why all your efforts failed through after-action-review and lessons learned. Those are concrete steps that the team can analyze. That is very different from suggesting they just weren’t good enough.

  9. Who is to blame? Blame is of very little value. You as leader/manager must be accountable WITH your teams to learn from failure and do better next time. Here’s the difference between blame and accountability.

  10. After a Team Failure, Assess Team Strengths

  11. When you are doing lessons learned after a team failure, make sure the lessons include what you all did right as well as what you learned from any mistakes. Create a chart that has two columns (some call this a plus/delta chart). You highlight what went well, what unforeseen glitches caused trouble, and what would you change going forward.

Prepare your teams for how to deal well with failure without tearing the team apart. Even though teams don’t set out to fail, it does happen. Yet it doesn’t have to spell the end of the team, its morale, or the relationships that have built it. When leaders, managers, and project managers, lead morale throughout a project, teams can sustain morale and relationships even in the toughest times.

Have you seen a team fall apart when it fails to reach the end result? What happened & why?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Why Do Teams Rally in a Crisis and Fall Apart Later
Replace These 5 Unempathetic Leadership & Teamwork Statements

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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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2 Responses to “Team Failure: How to Keep Morale High & Relationships Tight #LeadMorale”

  1. Mauwa says:

    Very useful article.

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