A team becomes demoralized when courage, confidence, or hope erodes. This can happen for many reasons including a significant loss, a failure, an overly optimistic goal or even exhaustion and burnout from an intense pace.
Demoralized teams do not perform at their best. Instead of trimming their sails to a successful finish, demoralized teams suck the wind out of their sails and those of everyone around them. To avoid getting off course or capsizing, here are some ways to overcome the impact of a demoralized team:
- Be real – don’t pretend everything is ok. Address the situation and encourage the team to discuss it. This is not a session to whine, grumble, complain or criticize. Focus on observable evidence and get a realistic understanding of the current condition. Perhaps emotion is clouding your assessment of the situation. Look at the facts and be real with the team.
- Reconnect – as a team gets frustrated and begins to lose hope, it’s easy to degenerate into blaming each other. Rather than looking inward within the group and identifying what’s wrong with each team member, connect with each other on a human level. What makes each person unique? What are their gifts and abilities? How can you see the positives in each other?
- Renew your focus – what is the mission, goal or higher purpose of the team? Sometimes problems overshadow the bigger goal. Remind the team of what you are collectively accomplishing and why it matters.
- Celebrate – find a sincere win, something that did go well, and celebrate it. Remind the team of their greatness and the possibility of reclaiming it. It’s human nature to focus on what’s not going well. Sincerely celebrating a positive accomplishment, no matter how trivial, can recharge the drained energy of a demoralized team.
- Learn – step away from the issue and examine it objectively. What can you learn that can fuel future success? See the silver lining in an otherwise dark time.
Proactively address a demoralized team before it spirals into dysfunction. Uplift the team members, reconnect them with each other and renew the focus on the goal to overcome the debilitating impacts of a demoralized team.