View from the Trenches: "Dealing with Demoralized Teams"

Forward by Jack Prouty, President of the M&A Leadership Council

Over a year ago I had the pleasure of meeting with and learning from Donna Brighton and Scott Beilke  of the Brighton Leadership Group ( They are experts in change management and leadership/organizational effectiveness.  They put out an electronic newsletter entitled “Tuesday’s Tremendous Tip,” and a recent article has particular relevance to those of us who are managing the M&A integration team. Given the hours and level of effort required, the stress and challenges faced daily, and the number of months involved from planning to integration completion, we often have difficulty keeping our team members enthused, engaged, and focused.

The following article from Donna and Scott addresses dealing with demoralized teams. I believe there are some valuable points in it that we can apply as we lead and manage our M&A integration teams……. Please provide feedback and a sharing of your experiences in this area with me at [email protected]


Dealing With Demoralized Teams
by Donna Brighton and Scott Beilke, Brighton Leadership Group

A team becomes demoralized when their courage, confidence, or hope erodes. This can happen for many reasons including a significant loss, a failure, an overly optimistic goal or even exhaustion and burn out from an intense pace.

A demoralized team does not perform at their best. Instead of trimming their sails to a successful finish, a demoralized team sucks the wind out of their sails and the sails of anyone else around them.
To avoid getting off course or capsizing, this tip addresses some ways to overcome the impact of a demoralized team:

1. Be Real – Don’t pretend everything is ok. Address the situation and encourage the team to process it. This is not a session to whine, grumble, complain or criticize. Focus on observable evidence and get a realistic understanding of the current condition. Perhaps emotion is clouding your assessment of the situation. Look at the facts and be real with the team.

2. Reconnect – As a team gets frustrated and begins to lose hope, it’s easy to degenerate into blaming each other. Rather than looking inward at the team members and identifying what’s wrong with each team member, connect with each other on a human level. What makes each person unique? What are their gifts and abilities? How can you see the positives in each other?

3. Renew Your Focus – What is the mission, goal or higher purpose of the team? Sometimes problems overshadow the bigger goal. Remind the team of what you are collectively accomplishing and why it matters.

4. Celebrate – Find a sincere win, something that did go well and celebrate it. Remind the team of their greatness and the possibility of reclaiming it. It’s human nature to focus on what’s not going well. Sincerely celebrating a positive accomplishment, no matter how trivial, can recharge the drained energy of a demoralized team.

5. Learn – Step away from the issue and examine it objectively. What can you learn that can fuel future success? See the silver lining in an otherwise dark time.

Proactively address a demoralized team before it spirals into dysfunction.  Uplift the team members, reconnect them with each other and renew the focus on the goal to overcome the debilitating impacts of a demoralized team.

Note: For comments and questions on this article email Donna and Scott at [email protected]