Don’t Let a Setback Drag Your Team Down

Every team experiences setbacks — the customer you didn’t land, the client meeting that didn’t go well. And because of our natural negativity bias, these disappointments can often overshadow what is going well. 

Well, the good news is that bad news doesn’t have to drag you all down. You can adopt what the leadership scholar John Gardner called “tough-minded optimism” and exhibit excitement, enthusiasm, and grit. Go out of your way to remind colleagues of the progress they’re making. Celebrate small wins frequently and memorably. (There’s a reason so many startups ring a bell or bang a gong every time they land a new customer.) 

Organize a Friday celebration to revel in the week’s good news. Of course, we can do that online over Zoom or Skype for now!! 

Make it a point to emphasize — even overemphasize — good news in order to lessen the impact of the bad. While keeping your team excited and focused on the future, you might also have to deal with any “bad apples” — people who gossip, carry grudges and otherwise bring the team down. Their negativity can be contagious, so it’s important you coach them to change their attitude or ask them to move on.

Adapted from Harvard Business Review Don’t Let Negativity Sink Your Organization,” by Bill Taylor