I’ve spoken about the power of genuinely owning and apologizing for one’s behavior, lack of accountability, etc. – especially if you’re in a leadership and management role – and then specifically outlining how it won’t happen again. This inspires your team to not only forgive, but also to rise up to support creating different results. Once the “baloney” in the space has been addressed, you all can move forward to create something beautiful together. And not until then.
However, there’s another piece to this puzzle. Forget. Once someone has gone through this “mea culpa” process, then it’s time to truly forget. Let it go. I get that whatever it was might be in their personnel file just in case it happens again. I get it.
But in the world of true forgiveness and REALLY giving someone a chance, no one on the team should be talking about or bringing up said person’s “reputation” or “history.” Permitting rehashing is like putting a scarlet letter on that person, then hanging an anvil around their neck, and then still asking them to perform at a level of excellence.
So what if they do it again? Then deal with that then. Deal with what’s there in that specific instance. Chances are when they have “real-time” feedback that doesn’t come with a boatload of historical weight, they’ll be able to see what’s not working and address it.
And if they do it again? Then maybe they aren’t really committed to change. And if it’s hurting the team or business outcomes, then it’s time to support them in transitioning. But at least first give them a fighting chance — both forgive AND forget.
Until then, don’t allow yourself or your team to undermine a team member’s sincere effort to show up differently.