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How to offer a second chance

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,People Management

second chance signYou’ve got a worker who has fouled up big time—severely enough to justify immediate termination. Yet you feel like he may deserve a second chance. Here’s how you can go about giving it to him:

Talk to other stakeholders. If an employee’s committed a flagrant offense and everyone knows it, then you need to think about how your other team members, or your managers, will react if the worker doesn’t have to pay the price. Giving him a second chance—even if that involves severe discipline, like a demotion or suspension—could create morale problems that will outweigh any benefits the worker may bring to the job.

While normally you wouldn’t discuss performance problems with a worker’s colleagues, if they already know he’s at risk of termination, talk with your team (as well as your manager) about why you want to avoid that fate. They may feel, for example, that the employee’s skills or experience aren’t as irreplaceable as you may think, or that his behavior is more offensive than you suspect.

However, the point of these meetings shouldn’t be to debate whether the worker’s mistake was “really that bad,” but whether there are good reasons why he shouldn’t be fired.

Talk to the employee. If you feel you have support from both the team and your management, have the “make-or-break” meeting with the employee. Unlike your previous discussions with other stakeholders, this meeting should focus exclusively on what the worker did, why it was wrong and how he can assure you it won’t happen again. Make clear to him, as you should to others, that you can and will terminate him right now if you need to; he’s not indispensable.

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