When to Give a Second Chance and When to Draw the Line
I give second chances reluctantly. I don’t want you on my team if you don’t work hard and bring your best.
Drifters, excuse-makers, and blamers freak me out. They don’t deserve second chances.
My closest friends think I’m too quick to rule people out. They’re right.
I’m thankful for friends who look me in the eye and confront narrow thinking and small-hearted behaviors.
12 reasons to give people a second chance:
- You gave confusing instructions.
- Lines of responsibility were fuzzy.
- There’s a history of delivering results. History predicts the future.
- Failure occured around new responsibilities.
- Screw ups were owned, not buried.
- A next-time plan is offered and endorsed.
- You expected someone to perform in their weakness.
- Your ambition for them exceeded their competencies.
- Effort was high, but results disappointed.
- You didn’t offer training, coaching, or support.
- There’s improvement and potential.
- A different, more suitable role, is available.
The uncomfortable truth is leaders are responsible for people’s failure. You hired the wrong person and put them in the wrong role, for example. Perhaps you didn’t properly assess someone’s strengths.
When people on your team flounder, look in the mirror before casting stones.
Draw the line:
Give no patience to people who don’t care and don’t try.
Drifters deserve a kick in the pants, not a chance to drift again. You get what you tolerate.
A second chance is an endorsement.
Passion, energy, resolve, character, and responsible mistake-making deserve second chances. But if people give up, don’t seem to care, make excuses, or just pretend like everything is OK, draw the line.
Don’t give second chances to excuse-makers unless you want to hear excuses in the future.
When people don’t own their failure, draw the line.
Remember your own struggle, failure, and frailty. Competence is won through hard fought battles.
When should leaders give second chances?
When should leaders draw the line?
Because we are human and humans make mistakes.
Now repeated actions require deeper processes to determine a method to eliminate mistakes.
Educational perhaps, better leadership may be needed or a better listening and guidance session.
Once you have gone through the process once, the line needs to be drawn and clarified what will and won’t be tolerated.
Thanks Tim. Yes! The reminder that people have frailties is important to remember. I feel in your comment some encouragement to draw the line slowly. Don’t rush to rule people out.
Depends on error and the severity, especially if its something that been repeatedly explained and clarified, then it’s a no brainer, there can be gray areas as well that require more investigation. I’m thankful; to all our teachers who gave us more than one chances and didn’t judge us on our first mistake. If we are dealing with competent individuals who know the ropes then we may not be so forgiving, as they say ” you should know better”, especially if the mistakes causes physical harm or injury to others. Many complex scenarios tend to require thorough understanding of all the players,
You are right Dan – those who blame, make excuses and don’t own their failures don’t belong on any team. Those who do enable a victim mentality and victim culture where blame becomes the norm. It comes down to the recruitment process. Hire on attitude and fire on attitude.
Thanks Strategez… Yes, so much of this conversation is about hiring people with character and passion.
Character and passion…yes! That’s what I look for during interviews! And it’s sometimes the hardest characteristic to measure accurately.
Hi Dan, I feel compelled to twist the knife a little 🙂 My observation is that an issue is not addressed because the leader themselves has similar failings (if I call them out I may get called out). So my question would be – If as a leader you’re giving people a second chance, then what are the real reasons for this?
But to answer your question – never. Everything should be a new beginning, if you reset the boundaries, agree new timelines etc. then it’s not a true second chance. But if you let them proceed with no correction or redirection it is a second chance and you invite failure or worse, repeated failure.
Hey Richard. We tend to judge others through the lens of our own strengths and weaknesses. When that happens, others should be good at the things we are good at. If they aren’t, something’s wrong with them.
As you indicate, we may have greater tolerance for the weaknesses that we have.
I can’t help but think that holding ourselves to high standards is essential. Along with that, acknowledging and compensating for our weaknesses goes a long way toward open conversations.
Thanks for jumping in.
I like these thoughts … sound similar to toddler training!
‘You get what you tolerate.’
‘A second chance is an endorsement.’
Also like the concept of ‘responsible mistake-making’ and Croadie’s reminder that similar weaknesses/failings leave leaders with some real challenges!!
Thanks tooarbie. Maybe we should adopt toddler training principles for training leaders. 😉
Simon Sinek says in one of his talks (https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe/transcript) that great leader see their team as Family and that you would never fire a Family member for performance issues. I wonder what is your take on this?
Thanks Peppino. Love Simon’s work. If you never fire a family member then be very careful who you bring into the family. I’ll add that family style cultures often need to learn how to deal with touch issues openly.
Second chance, even a third chance is warranted most of the time, but fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, etc., etc. reaches the point of absurd
Why do we give so many “second” chances, espcially with today’s employees?
My theory, at least with younger employees, which has morphed into the same treatment for older employees based on seeing the passes being given to their younger colleagues, begins with younger employees growing up in a society where everyone recevies a participation trophy and is given endless “second chances.” Even the Parkland shooter was gvien endless second chances.
Secondly, we have too many so-called leaders that are motivated by Affiliation and cannot bring themselves to criticize their employees because they want to be their friend, so they either ignore the infraction or give the employee endless second chances. Additionally, they do not hold the employee accountable for the mistake, therefore little to nothing is learned from the experience.
Lastly, the meaning and value of the phrase “I apologize” has become totally meaningless. It is treated like a “get out of jail” statement now; however, don’t expect any change in behavior.
If in the organisation (church ) some poeple claim themselves to be this and that, saying the leader doesn’t recognise what we are, they leave the organisation and try to influence some others, but the leader knows that they don’t have anything of what they are claiming. What can be the solution to protect the organisation and maintain the growth.