Setbacks. Why you need them.

During the last two weeks, a sports team I am working with experienced what would be classified as several textbook definition setbacks. When they occurred, they were in the process of learning about how to capitalize on their teams’ outcomes. As they were going through this experience, it wasn’t a comfortable situation for any of them. However, it was exactly what they needed to go through at that time.

Fast forward to this week, and the team decided it needed to do something differently. Not only because the way they were operating wasn’t working, but because the team dysfunction level was unbearable. You could feel it, and see it in their performance. Yet, until they encountered their second dramatic performance setback, they were not ready to do something different.

When this team reached what would be classified as “rock bottom”, was when they decided it was time to try what they were potentially resisting, or not fully feeling like they could embrace. At this point, they had nothing to lose, and potentially everything to gain from facing their setbacks head on. This included openly talking about them, learning from them, and deciding to collectively try a different approach to how they were functioning as a team. In other words, to begin acting like one.

Yes, it sounds obvious that a team should act like a team and be supportive of one another, but there are numerous factors which can contribute to this not happening. For instance, when a team’s communication breaks down, or when they don’t treat each other well, or act respectful of one another as both people and teammates.

The first sign of this or any team breaking down and heading towards a place they don’t want to end up, is when they begin playing as individuals. This happens in the workforce too. You can literally watch a team and see they are not functioning and supporting one another to be successful. You will also see individuals trying to stand out, or do what they think they need to independently do to support their team. This never works, as we all know that a team is at their best when they are deliberately working together, and trust that each member is ideally doing their part. It’s critical to note and be reminded that no single person on the team is responsible for the outcome of the team’s performance.

When communication and trust are both lacking, it’s nearly impossible for a team’s dynamics to be strong. However, each of these elements can be addressed, and when they are, the team can begin to heal, and repair and restore the camaraderie levels they are ideally seeking to reach.

Facing adversity and not working together to do so is one of the basic elements which contributes to a team’s setback. I give the team I am working with a great deal of credit for understanding and admitting they were collectively not doing their part to be a team. So, when they decided this week to do something about addressing this, is when I literally saw a different team on the field. As a matter of fact, I told them they looked and acted like a completely new team, and one that was committed to turning their setbacks around. They did exactly that, and logged their first home win that day.

Now, the real work of helping this team to maintain its focus on leveraging what they learned from their setbacks is going to be what makes the difference in the rest of their seasons performance results. They will be applying what they have been working on this past week to improve their team dynamics, and this will transfer into their actions on and off the field. Ultimately, they will be putting into practice and testing this afternoon what they have learned, and I strongly believe their setbacks will provide them with the inspiration to attain the results they are collaboratively working towards.

If you are an individual or on a team who has experienced setbacks, and who hasn’t, below are some suggestions you can apply to course correct on the outcome you would prefer to experience.

  • Consider what contributed to your setback. What role did you, or each team member play in having it occur? This should be discussed as a group, and lead by the Coach or Manager.
  • Discuss what you learned from your setback(s). Focus on being constructive with what is being communicated, and set ground rules that do not allow people to single out and publicly attack or embarrass someone.
  • Make sure that everyone has a voice. Some people on the team might feel more comfortable with writing down and then having someone else read what they want to express.
  • When trust breaks down, you need a delicate method and time to be in your favor to restore it. One of the things I recommend that team’s do, is to each write down what they like about every person they work with. It could be unrelated to their actual team contribution (e.g., they make me laugh), and then the next step is to then gather together and have each person read out loud what they wrote. This information can also be shared in writing too, so that it has a longer lasting impact.
  • Factor in doing something together that is independent of what your team normally does together, and which could allow them to have some fun. There a plenty of low-cost options and ideas to apply, so be creative. Having some fun together instead of dreading being with one another can be a catalyst to reset your team dynamic setbacks.

The bottom line about setbacks is that they can’t always be avoided, and when they do occur, they can actually work in our favor. That is, if you have the right mindset to capitalize on turning them into both learning, growth and opportunities to improve and recalibrate your teams’ dynamics.

TAGS: #Teams #Teamdynamics #Leadership #Teamsetbacks #Success #Motivation #Teamwork #Workforce #Business #Sports #Sportsteam #Sportsteams #Sportscoach #Coach #Manager #Leader

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