Have you given a struggling employee a second chance? Of course you have! The real question is – did they know about it or did you just give them a “break?”
I recently experienced a powerful example of why just giving someone a break rarely works. This lesson came courtesy of a player on our 18 and under AA baseball team. #2 had a variety of home and school issues going on the last couple of seasons so everyone understood when I didn’t come down too hard on some of his on field behavior issues. However, when it crossed over into unsportsmanlike behavior I suspended him for two games and in a players’ only vote they decided not to reinstate him for the remainder of last season. The players and coaches did make it clear that he would be welcome to rejoin the team this season.
To his credit #2 did return this season but it was made clear to him what the behavior expectations were if he wanted to remain part of the team. What a difference – not a single outburst at the plate or in the field. His improvement was never more evident than in our last game when he committed an error on the opening batter of the game – last year his temper would have caused him to lose complete focus but instead he recorded three very nice putouts, had several productive at-bats and scored a run.
A lesson to me that the best second chances are the ones your “players” know about. It is not only acceptable but mutually beneficial to let someone know you observed some lack of performance on their part but only if you make it clear the performance you expect and that you will give them a real opportunity to improve.