Giving second chances

Published on 
3 min, 557 words

Categories: podcast work

Sometimes people need a second chance.

In the Simon Sinek interview with Leland Melvin they talk about giving a second chance to an employee and how they can sometimes turn out to be the best employee.

Are you good at giving other people a second shot? Sometimes the disenfranchised that don't get the first shot because of whatever situation that people see them in. And that's probably one of your best employees that they get a shot. You think about second chances. Instead of a firing an employee, you give them the second shot and they're your star because they didn't get fired for doing this thing or whatever happened. They're your best employee.

I have encountered this a number of times in my career.

When I used to run the engineering team for a consultancy a young engineer did something stupid - a prank that he shouldn't have done. We had to decide whether to fire him or give him a second chance. It was not an easy decision and we spent a number of days discussing it and going back and forth. In the end we decided to give him another chance and he would hopefully learn from it. He definitely learnt from it and went on to become one of our best engineers.

Later in my career I was leading a team of developers at a bank. One of the engineers was really struggling and there were discussions about letting him go (I was not the decision maker). They decided to give him a chance to prove himself. I reviewed every change he made and made suggestions on how they could be improved.

A lot of people would take this the wrong way and see it as constant criticism. To this person's credit (and he should take all the credit) he used it to learn and took everything on board. Slowly over time his code improved and he required less and less guidance. I left the project after about eighteen months and he is still there today - over a decade later.

I was also given a second chance. When I started out as a consultant I was working for a customer and I didn't get on with the project manager. It was purely down to a difference in cultures. I went to my boss and said I couldn't continue to work there (I was young and naïve at the time). He knew the project manager and was surprised at my issues. The boss of the company I was working at told my boss that I should be fired but he persuaded her to give me another chance.

I went back to work there and in the end I got on really well with the project manager, once I understood the differences, and he was actually a really nice guy. I stayed with the consultancy for a couple of years and then my boss and I went off and started our own consultancy - which would never of happened if I had not been given a second chance.

Sometimes something someone does, or does not do, means a second chance is not possible however look for opportunities for people to have that second chance. We do, hopefully, learn from our mistakes.


Exploration with Leland Melvin - Simon Sinek/