Leaders: Give A Second Chance or Say Sayonara?

The question should leaders give a second chance or say sayonara is not one to be handled flippantly.  Today I am sharing 4 points every leader should consider before closing the door on an employee.

Leaders: Give A Second Chance or Say Sayonara?

A leader’s most meaningful responsibility is to develop their people to reach their maximum potential. But what happens when employees don’t perform at a level that meets or exceeds their leader’s expectations?  Should leaders give second chances or say sayonara?  Before making a final decision, consider these four thoughts.


Was The Expectation Crystal Clear?

I was talking with a frustrated leader recently.  Their employee, whose title was Customer Service Representative (CSR), was not meeting his sales goals. The leader had told the employee multiple times that he needed to increase his sales, but the results weren’t changing. This leader wanted to get rid of the employee. I wondered if it was time to give a second chance.

My first question to the leader was, “Does the employee have a crystal clear expectation of what your objective for him is — to increase sales?” The leader responded, “Absolutely.  I have told him over and over again.”

So often I see such a disconnect between leaders and employees in regards to expectations because of poor communication.

I had a long conversation with her employee to see if we could get to the heart of the disconnect. It became clear that even though the leader talked to the employee about the need to increase sales, the employee did not understand sales should be his number one priority.

Now, some may say that it’s the CSR’s fault for not catching on that the leader wanted him to shift his priorities and level up his performance.  I say, no way!

When leaders communicate, it is the leader’s responsibility to make sure the message is accurately received.  Let me say that one more time in case you were just skimming this article. It is the leader’s responsibility to make sure the message is accurately received.

After one of the multiple sales conversations the leader had with the employee, she should have asked the employee, “In order to make sure I communicated correctly, will you tell me what you understand my expectation is of you, please?”

I have no doubt that the leader could have avoided getting to this frustrating place if she would have taken responsibility for making sure her employee understood her message. Don’t think I am roasting that leader — that is not my intention.  I have been there before and have learned this lesson the hard way.  Before you say sayonara to an employee, make sure you have asked the questions to ensure your employee has a crystal clear understanding of what you expect of them. It might be time to give a second chance to yourself and to them.

Think your leaders could benefit from some communication skills training? Let’s talk!

Did You Give Them The Resources To Succeed?

So many times decision-makers hand off responsibilities and promote employees without giving them the resources they need to be highly successful.  Now, you have to know that I am obsessed with empowering employees and with people taking responsibility for their own success.  However, if you are at the point where you are questioning whether or not you should let an employee go, I want you to ask yourself if you gave them the training, equipment, and experiences they needed in order to perform the way you wanted.

I absolutely believe leaders should give a second chance to employees if the leader did not do everything they could to help them be successful. Give a second chance for the employee to learn and do better.  Give yourself a second chance as their leader to help them be successful.  Maybe you need to educate them. Maybe you need to inspire them. Whatever it is you need to do, own your leadership responsibility for developing your people before cutting ties.

How is Their Attitude?

As leaders, we have to remember that our employees are real people just like us.  People go through good seasons and tough seasons.  If your employee is underperforming, take some time to talk with them and see how their life is going.  Maybe they have had some really bad cards dealt to them recently — choose to show compassion.  As a leader, your team has to perform at a certain level — I get that.  But, if your employee’s attitude is positioned where they want to do better, I encourage you to give a second chance.

However, if your employee’s attitude is set on apathetic, carelessness, or recklessness — regardless the season — it might be time to say sayonara.  The trajectory for that kind of attitude is almost always going to be straight down.


Remember Why You Hired Them.

Finally, before you make the last call, remember why you hired them. Something made you want them to work for you when they were in the interview. What was it?  Is it still there?  If not, can you ignite that spark again?

Leaders who own the responsibility of developing their people, harness the power to impact lives in a massive, positive way.  Next time you’re faced with the decision to give a second chance or let someone go, remember these 4 considerations.

Does someone you know need to see this? Share it!

#secondchances #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #leadershipdecisions #decisionskills #decisionmakingskills


You might also like this: Mistakes At Work: Rise Up from a Slip Up


Alyson Van Hooser
Author: Alyson Van Hooser
Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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