As in life, you just won’t be able to avoid it at work. The more you try to, the worst it might end up being for you and for those that work for you. All humans learn from experience, both the good ones and the tough ones so what is the point of avoiding any if it only helps making you better at what you do and who you are?
It is never easy though for you and certainly not for them. I recall a conversation I had with an employee that worked for me for some time. I remember saying that eventually all managers disappoint their employees. She wouldn’t believe me, so I told her she should wait and see as I was at peace with the thought.
I do hope I didn’t disappoint her. I do know that given enough time anyone can disappoint anyone. Even leaders are subject to this.
That usually means that someone let you down. It might be the Company, it might be your boss or it might be someone on your team. It is not a pleasant sensation and it is definitely not one you yearn for. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad news you received from above or a poor performance that leads you to the inevitable decision of letting someone go.
It’s a feeling you dislike because it can expose you like no other. It can show you do not agree with decisions taken above your pay grade, as much as it can show how displeased you are with someone in your team.
Disappointment is the Father of all traitors
It can turn you into a non-believer. It can turn those who follow you into sceptics and eventually cause distress within your team. You can use this to prove a point, or as a milestone, a checkpoint every plan needs to stay current. It is up to you, but the one thing you can not do is avoid it. Do not fight it, rather, use it.
They can be disappointed on your or the Company as well. Be it as it may, they might not recover from the feeling per se. They want their boss to be unique, and good. They want to follow orders from someone that’s great at giving them, someone who proves useful, and can translate the Company’s mission into something good for them.
What happens when you or the Company doesn’t live up to those expectations is that they just don’t feel safe anymore. Something is suddenly missing, something’s wrong. They start doubting, they get angry and start arguing every single thing you say.
You can turn that disappointment into a learning moment for them, and the way to do it is by using their disappointment as a whiteboard on which you can explain to them what happened. Ask them how they felt and why they believe they felt like that. Tell them how it made you feel and how you’ll move past it with their help. Do not hide from their sight: share with them.
They are seeing you in one of the most vulnerable states and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If they are disappointed as well what you have is a point in common, which is probably THE best stepping stone for a manager to get closer with his or her team and that is a precious gift disappointment has for you: a way to engage and communicate better with your team, your boss or even your Company.
Also published on Medium.