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It didn’t go well for Jennifer the last time, and now her confidence was shaken. She was doing everything she could to avoid going through it again, which only increased her anxiety and frustrated the rest of us. We had to rebuild her confidence and encourage her to try again. But it’s hard to rebuild confidence in the midst of the angst.

When “the last time” goes south, it can be hard to pick up the pieces. Perhaps you’ve heard concerns like these:

“The last time I gave someone feedback they cried.”

“The last time I was honest with my boss, I got a negative review.”

“The last time I presented to senior management, I got so nervous I forgot what I was going to say.”

“The last time I stayed up late working on a report, they didn’t even look at it.”

“The last time I interviewed, it turned out the job had already been promised to someone else.”

The memory of last time can destroy this time before you even start.

5 Ways To  Help an Employee Rebuild Confidence

1. Acknowledge What’s Real

If last time really was a complete disaster, acknowledge the issue. Trying to say something “Just wasn’t that bad” —if it was—will only make you lose credibility. If they’re blowing it out of proportion, offer evidence to help them see the past from a different perspective.

2. Break It Down

Ask questions to help them understand the root cause of what went wrong the last time. Chances are not everything went wrong. It’s much easier to improve when you know what you’re fixing.

3. Outline What’s Different About the Scene

They may think they’ve seen this movie before, but the truth is, last time was different in many ways. Take the time to explore how today is different from yesterday, or how this guy’s different from that guy.

4. Celebrate the Learning

Help them consider all they’ve learned from the last time and intentionally celebrate.

5. Help them Prepare an Approach

The best way to create a winning “this time” is to fully prepare. Help them create a strong strategy and approach.

How about you? What have you done to rebuild confidence on your team?

See Also:

How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted.

7 Ways to Build Confidence in Your Leaders

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


    • Karin Hurt

      Paul, This is a GREAT post. I love it when people expand the conversation with what they are thinking, writing and reading. I’m always wanting to learn as much as I can on the topic.

      One of my favorite keynotes is about confident humility, and I’m working on a book on the same topic. I’ve also partnered up with a state trooper/kickboxing master on a version of my confident humility keynote which integrates body/mind/spirit and gets people up and kicking. This subject is so important and there are many angles to explore.

  1. Bruce Harpham

    I like the suggestion to prepare a new approach. There may also be an issue of timing there – allowing some time to pass before posing a solution.

    • Karin Hurt

      Bruce, Ahh, yes, time is the great healer. Thank you!

  2. David Tumbarello

    Great wisdom, Karin. I think confidence is the result of a good diet. I mean, our successes, our challenges, our self-talk, our motivation, our company, and so many more “diet” like factors contribute to our confidence. And if I don’t like the elements in my “diet,” then I have the ability to change. Kinda like the adage “Don’t let anyone take away your happiness” — I believe that we shouldn’t let anyone take away our confidence. Take responsibility instead.

    • Karin Hurt

      David, beautiful analogy. Love it!

  3. LaRae Quy

    Wonderful and important topic, Karin.

    Lack of confidence can strike at any time, no matter our position in the corporate hierarchy or experience level.

    As counterintuitive as this may sound, one of the best ways to build confidence is to intentionally move out of our comfort zone—anticipating failure! It is our attitude toward failure that chips away at our self-confidence. But once we overcome an obstacle and gain the confidence that we have the mental strength to keep moving forward, it changes our entire perspective!

    • Karin Hurt

      Larae, I so agree. The more you do thinks you think you cannot, the stronger you become. Excellent. Thanks as always.

  4. Alli Polin

    So been there and my teams too. It’s easy to back off or play small based on last time… I’ve also coached team members to playfully adopt a new perspective. If this perspective they’re stuck in is called, “last time” what would “the perfect time” or “the most awesome time” or simply “next time” be like if they fully stepped into that new perspective. They need to ask themselves, not only what they would do from this new way of looking at the situation but also what’s present there for them but also what would shift with their confidence too.

    Such a relatable piece, Karin with great advice.



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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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