Time passes, people change. We all know it. However, how often do we act on this premise? When faced with a person whom we know has done us a wrong turn in the past, or we feel has displayed incompetence in his job, our first reaction is a tendency towards these past events (which obviously have little to no bearing in present circumstances) and to judge him based on these past events, without any regard for the present, or the good that he has done, which is immensely unfair. Thus, to the crux of this essay: the importance of giving second chances.
People who have had a bad track record may indeed be a cause for concern in the workplace. What if he messes up again? Will he somehow manage to undo all our efforts going into a project? What if…and the list goes on. And it may be the case that the person will cause the team difficulties if let on board. However, if never given the chance to even try, how is one to know for sure that such a person would be problematic in the team? If anything, the ‘innocent till proven guilty’ policy should be applied in such a situation, and the person in question should be given the benefit of the doubt.
Granted, it should be acknowledged that the psychological barriers are difficult to break when it comes to such decisions that can make or break a team, as letting a potential catastrophe onto the team. This is especially so for the risk averse. Thus, while it is not possible to fully welcome the person into the team from the get-go, perhaps a compromise can be made. For instance, put that person on probation, perhaps for a week or so, to test his capabilities. You never know, but he may surprise you, and exceed your expectation by a mile.
Which brings us on to the next point: that people ultimately are multifaceted and have various strengths and weaknesses. Past failures could ultimately have been due to his being in an environment unfavourable to his strengths which may have even focussed on his weaknesses, thus hindering his development and success. Reasons for failure ultimately do not solely lie with the individual, and can entail a host of external factors.
So it may be possible that it is only if a person truly has no strengths which align with the team that he should not be let on it. However, even then such a statement indicates a lack of understanding of that person. This is because that person, with strengths that perhaps no one else in the team has, may have vital resources, may provide a new perspective to the team, which would allow the team to elevate itself from its current position, and allow it to develop further. Moreover, weaknesses can ultimately be made up for by other people on that team who have complementing strengths.
Thus, give others a second chance. Even though they may have made a fiasco of their first, one should never be inclined to believe that it is predetermines all future possibilities.