Failure happens. The idea is to learn from it and find a way to move forward. However, that’s a lot easier said than done. It can be quite devastating to go through a failure. It’s usually down to how much you have invested (emotionally more than financially) to know how you’ll react. When you really care, it’s harder to admit defeat, much less come to terms with it and find lessons from the situation.
When it’s a project you’re managing, you probably have a lot of emotional and psychological energy tied to it. And as the Project Manager it’s easy to see and be seen as the one responsible for the project failure, true or not. Keep remembering that failure is part of life and the goal here is to learn from this. It may require some deep soul searching, but you can do it. You really don’t have much of a choice…You will recover. How fast, though, is up to you.
The following three steps to recovering and learning from project failure might help. Steps one and two are focused on getting, you, the Project Manager, the individual, through the sense of loss, grief, anxiety and possibly guilt of the failure. Step three aims to help you focus on reflecting, discovering and growing from the experience.
- Time and space
When failure happens, you normally are not at your best, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, or even physically. So when you’re down, the tendency can be to retreat inwards with questions like ‘why me?’ or to lash outwards and blame others. Although this might protect you from the initial shock of failing, it’s negative and unhelpful and if sustained too long, damaging.
There really is no healer like time.
You will be going through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression/apathy and acceptance. Give yourself time and space to do it (enough space away from others, especially when in anger!). Recognising when you are in each phase somehow helps you get through it faster. Conscious living and all that.
- Techniques to help develop objectivity about the situation