When employees face problems, that's your chance to shine as a motivator. Help them work out of a jam and their morale will improve.
Serving as a problem-solver for your staffers doesn't mean that you do the heavy lifting for them. Instead, remind them that they are capable of overcoming whatever hardships they face—or at least express sincere confidence in their ability to make the best of a bad situation.
To motivate people who are mired in the muck, focus on the future. There will be time to dissect the past later. For now, say, "You need to define the problem and identify your options going forward."
Conduct a joint exercise. Assist employees in stating the problem accurately (that's not always as easy as it sounds!). Then guide them to create a menu of options on what to do next or possible action steps.
If they get stuck, lead by asking questions. If they're struggling to see a way out of a mess, ask, "What are some options you can definitely eliminate?" Getting them to discuss pitfalls they must avoid can propel them to seek solutions. Identify tactics to help them steer clear of traps.
Never sound hopeless or cynical. Through gentle questioning and supportive comments, you will motivate when it counts most.