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What do you do when you're disappointed with a work outcome?

Edited

I understand that...

  • Things don't always go according to plan and customers react differently to what we put out to the public.
  • We can develop work to the best of our abilities, but sometimes that work doesn't do what the team thinks it will do.
  • We may fight for a decision to go one way internally but other factors may take priority for it to go the way you want.

But none of this understanding helps me from being disappointed.

Whether it's a whole team that's disappointed or just some individuals, what are your suggestions on how to move forward?

Asking for a friend ;) ...and possibly me for the next time this happens. And...maybe I also want to crowdsource ideas to produce something for this community as a visual aid to help them when the time comes for them.

Thanks in advance, y'all!

misterbean.gif

11 comments

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa - Just checking: On the second bullet, should it be "sometimes that work does do" or "sometimes that work doesn't do"?  

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Great catch, it should say "work doesn't do" and I just updated the post to reflect that change. Thank you for calling that out!

Like Rose Eliff likes this

Take a deep breath, go for a walk and come back with different mindset

Like # people like this

First I'll say that I've I have benefited so much from mindfulness meditation and more mindful breathing exercises. Not just in the workplace.

If I were to tackle that on to any news received, it would help me focus on the thing right in front of me. While I don't think I get a different mindset by being more present, I still think that's helpful because I'll think less about the impact of a decision or team update.

So net net, that's fair. Does my interpretation resonate with you, @Anita Kalmane? Or do you legitimately gain a new perspective?

Like # people like this

Hmm... For me it's more like "no need to be angry or explode; let's disconnect for a minute". Then you come back and can look at everything with a different perspective and not let your emotions so much to rule.

Like # people like this

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa - Mindfulness meditation and present moment awareness are also helpful to me. Mindfulness helps me to keep my spirit in a calm, receptive place; present moment awareness helps me to focus on the current task and not ruminate on other issues. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Like you @Rose Eliff the mindfulness helps me stop the spiral. Totally.

But @Anita Kalmane I aspire for the walks to help me gain the new perspective. Maybe it's the distance that'll help do that.

Like Marjorie likes this

I love this question....for me it's these:

Redemption - can the thing be fixed, or changed to get the desired outcome.

Acceptance - Learn to live with the decision or outcome.  Try to take something positive away from the outcome or try to learn something so you can improve yourself/your team.

Fight on - if you have the ability to, and it's important enough for you - keep going until you do reach your desired outcome.

 

All of these are situational of course, and often the desired outcome is outside of your own or your teams controls, but I find it helps to decide which of the 3 is most appropriate for the situation.

Like # people like this

I would say that Acceptance is the key - accepting things as they are right now. Without rumination.

Acceptance does not mean I welcome the current "failure" in the future - just not fighting with what is here and now.

And if I am unable to stop ruminating (repeatedly imagining how things should have been and wallowing in misery), I may need to look at the reason - there must be some fear (often disguised as a belief or strong rigid expectation).

Well said @Pavol Harvanka , I agree, and also I think Acceptance is the hardest of the 3 options.

Great @Christine P_ Dela Rosa! I agree with @Pavol Harvanka

And I follow this way to deal with the less stress possible in all circumstances.

Sometimes, we won't know why it happens; however, accepting is the best to solve and deal with any expectation.

This is a very zen answer, @Nigel Budd. And I like that @Patrícia Fortunato Montenegro and @Pavol Harvanka , you've both resonated with "acceptance." You can only control what's in your sphere of influence, right? I also think that "acceptance" is the precursor to both of the other two options.

Out of curiosity, what has helped you in the past with acceptance? Especially for things you truly expected would be different?

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa I learnt that there are:

things outside of your control

things you can influence

things you can control

 

and although you can get stressed, upset, annoyed at any of these, you only get traction by putting most of your energy into things you can control, a little bit of energy into things you can influence, and just learning to live with the things outside of your control.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa, great question!

Something that helped me a lot was looking inner my feelings and emotions and observe what was happening. Self-knowledge is a guide from our hearts to deal with everything. It's hard to accept initially but makes me strong in making an effort to move forward and get things with maturity.

Like # people like this

@Nigel Budd I'm motivated by ROI, so I resonate with your not using energy on things that won't change.

And @Patrícia Fortunato Montenegro I think related to that^ sentiment, thinking about what is happening rather than an emotional reaction helps with that. I mean, I guess that's the point of mindfulness as well.  

Scenario 1: Outcome doesn't meet expectations 
Suggestion: Retrospective 
It can be so disappointing when this happens, despite everyone's best work and best intentions. It can be helpful to perform a retrospective to identify what impacted the outcome and what can be done in the future to produce a better outcome. 

Scenario 2: Unable to change decision 
Suggestion: Learn reasons behind decision 
In order to be able to accept a decision that doesn't match what we wanted, it's helpful to understand the Why. Sometimes having more information can be helpful in understanding why a new tool can't be funded or a new idea can't be implemented at this time. It can be helpful to look at things from a scope/time/resources viewpoint to gain more clarity on a decision. We don't have to like it, but we can understand the reasoning behind it. 

Like # people like this

A retro is a very good practice in a business/professional context. Learning the "behind" as well :-)

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment
- Lao Tzu

Like Rose Eliff likes this

Wowza, what a good reminder, @Rose Eliff.

Perhaps disappointment comes from the gap between what was expected and what happened. But if there's understanding of how things came to be, then perhaps that is what will diminish the gap and ultimately how the disappointment can be minimized.

Like Rose Eliff likes this

I know it's kind of cliche but it's about how you frame it. Every failure is an opportunity.

You try not to take the "failure" personally. Sometimes, things just don't work out and that's perfectly okay. 

You've been given an opportunity to do it better next time. Succeeding on the first try teaches us absolutely nothing. Learning from mistakes and failures gives us knowledge for the future about things to avoid.

Honestly, I've gotten so much more fulfillment out of getting something right the second time than I ever did getting lucky and doing it right the first time. I beat that "thing." And more importantly, I didn't let it beat me again.  

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

This is the most glass-half-full response I've read so far, @Josh Costella

In this way, I see the disappointment as evidence of work, even though it's not work that turned out the way you wanted it to. So these "failures" are like steps towards the top of a ladder of success. Right on :)

Like Josh Costella likes this

In the past few years, I'm in a position where we're pushing things to the limits and taking risky decisions.

What helps me personally if something fails is to tell myself and everyone else that we did the best decision we could at the time with the information we had.

And we would rather move fast and do mistakes than slow and overthink. Admit your mistake and fix whatever you can.  :)

 

So just grab a hot drink and chocolate, take a deep breath, and move on...

Like # people like this

This reminds me of advice I heard when it comes to decision-making. Everyone can advocate hard for one side, challenge each other, bring up points right up until it's decision-making time. But once the decision is made, that's it. The time for influencing is over and the time for carrying out that decision is next.

So yeah, I vibe with just focusing on doing the best you can in each phase or part of collaboration. As like you suggest, even mistakes are hindsight so we can only act on the knowledge we have about the opportunity in the moment.

Hi @Christine P_ Dela Rosa 

  I also agree with @Pavol Harvanka, acceptance is the first step, but then we have to try not to let things affect us too much, everything happens, nothing is eternal and it's not worth staying stuck in a situation or relationship that we know that it will not evolve

  You always have to think, what depends on me?

Cheers

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

"What depends on me?" is such a good question!

This may sound harsh, but there are few things that truly depend on me, and the more I zoom out, the shorter that list gets.

Like Vero Rivas likes this
Like # people like this

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa 

Wow, I believe that you summarized all the discussions with solid elements. 

All in all, conduct us in important reflection. The Dealbreaker seemed for me the "end" of the thoughts. It is input to deal with a disruption to change our relationship to the outcome and keep open-minded. 

It's representative and perfect! Good job! 🤗 👏🏽

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Andy Gladstone Community Leader Feb 07, 2022

Wow. Super powerful infographic! Really a great summary of the discussion with an actionable framework. Thank you @Christine P_ Dela Rosa 

Like # people like this

Nice graphic, @Christine P_ Dela Rosa

A couple of thoughts; use as you see fit: 

  • I'd suggest using parallel construction for each title, perhaps frame as CTAs (verb form) 
  • Use brief descriptions for clarity. Infographics tend to be concise. Examples: 

    Define boundaries 

    Understand the scope and limits of each role. 

    Understand why
    Gain understanding of the factors that determined the outcome. 
Like # people like this

Thanks for those notes, @Rose Eliff. I intended the construction for each title to be nouns but have changed them to be verbs. 

And while I liked the detail in each point's description, perhaps others may want a quicker read.

All that said, here's another pass!

Reslience v2.png 

Like # people like this

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa love the diagram, sums it up really well.  Great job.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Came late to the game, but, wow that graphic sums up what I have done in the past.  Amazing.  I think I could use this, with appropriate credit given @Christine P_ Dela Rosa , to teach my very young team mates.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Mar 22, 2022

My personal way of handling this is to step back to pull myself out from the negativity and deal with the emotional parts first, then, analyze the whole story and what could possibly go wrong and why, and talk to people to seek the improvements.

If it's the common thing across multiple team members, I will call out for a brainstorming meeting to open for discussion.

Like # people like this

That's interesting, to separate the emotion from the plot points. I often default to focusing on what happened but my emotions bleed into that thinking. Maybe I'll make a more concerted effort to separate the two!

Like # people like this

I've come to realise that if I stop pushing, the world will keep spinning. I do the best work I can, and I compare myself only to myself. Also, going in with the expectation of disappointment means being delightfully surprised when things go well.

Like # people like this

Something I can remind myself of regularly. Reflecting on just yourself/myself is truly a practice.

I'm a little late on this but I'd love to contribute.

Things not going the way you want them to is always hard but it happens. I've had some struggles with this, personally and professionally. So what I do when this happens is to remind myself that it's over now and that what done is is done and we can only move forward and learn from the past. 

So whether something like this happens at work or in life I try my best to focus ahead, fix the things that can be and do better next time. 

Keep your eyes fixed on the goal and acknowledge the progress you've made so far even if it's just tiny steps. Because the way to a goal is never straight or easy. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

A philosophy that's applicable beyond work. I love that, @Johanna Pichotka_APTIS_.

Like Johanna Pichotka_APTIS_ likes this

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