Do You Give Second Chances?

Do You Give Second Chances?

Posted on 12. Sep, 2011 by in 1 Leadership

Is there a limit to the number of second chances you give others?

Let’s look at this question in the context of today’s pressure-cooker environment prevalent in so many companies today.

People worry about losing their job. Teams are stretched thinner than before but the pressure to perform is ratcheted up a notch or two. Employees are creating and responding to other pressures that they’ve created AND likely not be real. What we have is a revving up of output energy that cannot be sustained.

The outcome: people will fail. Projects will fail. People will burn out.

As a leader your response to failure is vital. Punish people and projects for failure and watch the pressure-cooker combust or get closer to combustion. However, if you give people second chances you can begin to release the pressure.

Without a doubt the pressure to perform, excel, beat the competition is high. Let us not forget, however, that performance, excellence, new products and services are not possible without the talents of people.

Your people are not replaceable cogs in a mechanic wheel. They are not even easily replaceable in today’s job market.

In this era, we need leaders who take to heart the importance of creating an environment of optimism, of possibility. In this environment people’s talents and ideas are applied and shared. Second and third chances are available.

The pressure becomes a challenge that evokes the best response from people. This contributes to an environment where people thrive because they are allowed to explore under pressure and not penalized by short-termed thinking management practices.

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10 Responses to “Do You Give Second Chances?”

  1. Giving second chances to a good employee BUYS their loyalty to you and saves you all the aggravation of having to deal with firing them, replacing them, and more. You win. Maybe a 3rd or 4th mistake is worthy of reconsideration!

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  2. Shawn, aloha. Great post on an important topic.

    Two other questions that need to be answered are:

    1. Why did the person/project fail
    2. What is the cost of starting over with someone new–both monetarily and psychologically?

    Without a doubt, Shawn, I vote for a Second Chance whenever possible.

    Best wishes for a terrific week. Until next time, aloha. Janet

    Reply to this comment
    • Shawn Murphy

      12. Sep, 2011

      Hi Janet,
      Just got to say how wonderful it must be to live in Hawaii. Also got to say how much I appreciate your work and the message you spread. I’m a fan.
      Shawn

      Reply to this comment
  3. Kneale Mann

    13. Sep, 2011

    Another wonderful post, Shawn. If you want to lead, then lead and that does not mean only lead when the pom poms are aloft. And one tactic you may want to employ is to stop talking, writing and thinking about the economy for just one day. One day void of job threats and undo pressure from the omnipresent bad guys who are here to take your jobs away.

    As Winston Churchill once said, the only way through it is through it. So let’s get on with it.

    Celebrate your people, support them, let’s get back to work and stop whining. That will solve nothing.

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  4. Manie Bosman

    13. Sep, 2011

    You’re making some very important statements here, Shawn. If I may give a brief and perhaps somewhat simplistic response, I would say if you need to give someone a 3rd or 4th chance to do the same thing right, something is wrong. Either the person is not motivated, not suitable for the task or spitefull; or you have failed to equip or coach the person for the task. In both cases it is a failure in leadership…

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    • Shawn Murphy

      13. Sep, 2011

      Manie,
      Completely agree that 3rd and 4th conversations about a performance, judgement, lack of motivation, et al issue is cause for concern. Assuming the manager has spoken with the employee about the breakdown, a very different conversation may be necessary. It’s those insidious decision a leader makes to not give a second chance when an employee makes a mistake or in someway fails that is cause for serious concern.

      Your point that it’s not black-and-white is important. We certainly don’t want to allow people to continue to underperform without coaching. And We don’t we a leader to overlook his responsibility either.

      I appreciate your insights, Marnie.
      Shawn

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  5. Siddhartha Herdegen

    13. Sep, 2011

    What’s missing here is a definition of what it means to fail. There are many ways in which our expectations could be unmet, not all of which have the same importance or severity.

    The number of “chances” a person gets depends in large part on the severity of their failure. For minor disappointments I would probably give a near infinite number of chances so long as I perceived they were growing in the right direction.

    For more sever disappointments which clearly demonstrated a fundamental flaw of character I would let them go immediately.

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    • Shawn Murphy

      14. Sep, 2011

      Hi Siddhartha,
      Indeed the topic of second chances can be expanded to look at the failure, it’s impact, and frequency. Let’s start though at the beginning which is are second chances even available to others when they fail? When we let the pressure of results and high performance drive our leadership, second chances can take a back seat.

      Shawn

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