Life is always going to throw obstacles in your path each day – personally and professionally.  Many will cause little or no  interruption or stoppage.

However, there will be some obstacles and that cannot be overcome as easily and might bring you and your team to a stop on the road to progress.  Don’t feel you’ve  failed because of these setbacks.  Here are five key steps you can use to deal with them in order to move forward successfully.

1. Acknowledge the Setback Honestly

The worst thing that you can do when you are going through some sort of setback is deny that you are actually going through one.  Acknowledge the setback honestly and openly to your team; do not conceal back this information to preserve the façade of a flawless track record.  Setbacks are going to happen, but they need to be properly acknowledged in order to be resolved.

2. Analyze the Resulting Damage

After honestly acknowledging the setback, the next step is to analyze the damage that resulted from it.  Initially, it is easy to assume that everything is ruined and that there is no way that the damage can possibly be repaired.  The good news is that an honest examination will often show that it is not as bad you as thought and there is, in fact, room for correction and improvement.

3Develop a Detailed Plan of Action

Since you are now able to identify the areas you can address in order to turn your past setback into a future comeback, the next step for you to take now is to develop a detailed action plan that maps out the steps that need to be taken.  This plan needs to repair any damage and overcome the obstacle or setback in your way.

4. Share The Action Plan with Your Team

Make sure everyone on your team is informed.  They need to be aware that there was a problem that occurred, the damage that resulted from those occurrences and, more importantly, the plan of action necessary to move on.  Their input is valuable, so be willing to accept different suggestions from your team that could enhance the quality and overall effectiveness of your action plan.

 5. Work with Your Team to Put That Plan into Action

The final step is to get to work on achieving the objectives and goals that were specified in detail through your plan.  Keep in mind that a full recovery may take some time; nothing can get done overnight.   Even so, you still want to check for progress and monitor the performance of your team as you work together as a united force to continue to move forward despite the setbacks you’ve encountered.

Mark Sanborn
About Mark Sanborn

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international bestselling author and noted expert on leadership, team building, customer service and change. Mark Sanborn graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University. In addition to his work as a business educator and author, Mark continues to be an active leadership practitioner. Most recently he served as the president of the National Speakers Association.

3 Responses to 5 Simple but Effective Ways to Deal with Setbacks
  1. I personally (like Bob Burg said on Facebook when he shared this article), keep having setbacks personally and professionally from time to time. Therefore, I can relate very much with this post and I must say, this is an excellent article. I love these 5 steps.

  2. In some company or corporate cultures, admitting a mistake is a hard thing. Everyone focuses on the mistake so much that everyone forgets that everyone makes mistakes. And that the team or company needs to acknowledge the mistake, learn from the mistake and try not to repeat it.

  3. Mark Sanborn

    You are right, Robert. Some corporate cultures don’t handle mistakes well. By making them unacceptable, people either try to cover them up or they don’t try anything that might fail. In the process, they kill off innovative attempts.


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