I used to think first impressions were everything. I would meet someone and give them a week, a day or even an hour to create a name for themselves. Then I realized that people grow, and second chances can be new beginnings.
As a leader, I'm driven to evaluate individuals day in and day out. I have become pretty decent at figuring out what kind of contribution he or she will make, in a matter minutes. But then, things change. Their environment changes and their world comes crashing down on them.
When that happens, we as their supervisor have two choices of words when approaching him or her:
1) perform better or get out
2) something's distracting you, what can we do to make this right.
I've learned in a short period of time that the latter can make or break someone's career.
When you stop and recognize that your team are a set of humans, you realize that there are more important things happening at that given moment than the goal they were working on.
Okay- you're rolling your eyes. As a leader within a medical device industry I learned you can't stop if someone isn't feeling well, or else our pacemakers won't get out the door. But when we recognize the human element, the goal shifts into someone else's hands and it's okay.
It doesn't make you weaker or less of a leader to identify the human in your team. However, you need to recognize when enough is enough. How long do you use the human element? Well, for starters, there will be a point you recognize this individual isn't improving and other performance measures need to be taken.
Ultimately, when we tap into our human element and listen to what's not being said, you are able to more effectively performance manage your team.
First impressions can easily cause us to write someone off without truly looking at the bigger picture. Next time you go manage someone's newly negative performance, stop and ask: what changed? Second chances are warranted. So rather than creating and referring to that first impression, find the right impression this individual is trying to make.