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How to motivate your IT team after a setback

Sharon Florentine | Aug. 14, 2014
Projects fail, clients move on and layoffs happen. However, you can keep your team motivated in the face of failure. It just takes some basic psychology, a little bit of time and a lot of empathy.

To that end, Palazzolo says, after acknowledging that a failure or a setback occurred, the focus should then shift to bouncing back and recognizing that there's always a positive to be found, she says.

Step 2: Focus on the Positive

"Emphasize that there's always something positive to learn from every situation," she says. "Try to get your team focused on what worked: did you learn that you need to work more effectively as a team? Did you find that your process, scheduling, resource allocation was very effective?"

If you've identified these areas, make sure you're praising your teams for what they did right, not just on where failures occurred, Palazzolo says. But beware of hollow praise, as that can be detrimental in its own way, says Connie Kadansky, a thought leader, speaker and sales coach.

"Yes, you have to recognize that there was a problem," says Kadansky, "And also acknowledge strengths and successes. But go beyond, 'Great job,' which just builds ego, and emphasize specific, substantive achievements to help your feedback make a greater impact. 'Your ability to set goals, follow through and persevere in the face of obstacles sets a great example for the rest of the team and for the company' is a much more effective way to motivate," she says.

Making sure to acknowledge your employees' and teams' efforts rather than their achievements can go a long way toward boosting morale and overall engagement, and can give a much-needed boost to motivation and drive, she says. If possible, Kadansky adds, delivering recognition and praise of this kind in a public forum -- at a meeting, or a company-wide email -- can also be effective at motivating workers.

"Sometimes, we learn more effectively from our mistakes than from successes," says Dale Carnegie's Palazzolo. "It's important to remember that, and to identify where a perceived failure can actually open up new opportunities," she says.


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