You hoped they would do better but they failed again. Why? Second chances — by themselves — prolong failure. People will fail tomorrow in the same way they failed today, unless they change.
A second chance apart from intervention is tomorrow’s second failure. Responding to second failure is one of leadership's most powerful opportunities.
7 ways leaders seize the opportunity of second failure:
- Explore failure deeply. Learn from last time before rushing to next time.
- What decision did you make that brought you to this failure? (Don’t say “us” when you mean “you.”) With this failure in mind, if you could go back in time, where would you go?
- Look for the point in time when a decision led to failure. What would you do differently at that point in time?
- Clarify commitments. What are you committed to do next time? How? When? How frequently?
- Identify what needs to stop. The likelihood of success increases when you stop doing things that sabotage success. Stop losing your temper, for example.
- Pinpoint new behaviors that need to start. Be specific. Make them simple and actionable.
- Establish follow-up meetings. Don’t walk away from repeated failures.
- Provide mentors, coaches, training and feedback.
- Remove responsibilities. When someone repeatedly fails, you put the wrong person in the job. Give their responsibility to another person. Reassign them.
- Have the tough conversation. “If we continue to give your responsibilities to others, we’ll be helping you find another job.” It’s unfair to minimize the consequences.
Responsible failure is about learning, growing, adapting and trying again with renewed vigor. Failure never magically disappears. Patterns of failure persist until leaders intervene.
How might leaders seize the opportunity in second failure?