Two teams of amateur cooks competing against each other to see who could create and serve the best three-course banquet for over four hundred guests could have spelt chaos.  Especially because according to Gary Meghan, many of the Master Chef contestants weren’t all that great at cooking traditional Indian cuisine.

As we’ve come to expect from reality TV, the dishes all got plated in time, the newlywed couple were overjoyed with the food and the guests left behind a show reel of compliments.  Nothing unusual here.

Normally I don’t think twice about reality TV, and in truth I’ve barely watched any episodes of any of the series this year.  But a comment by the leader of the losing team got me thinking about second chances.  “I know it’s part of the competition, but it’s still disappointing to not be getting the reward for a job well done,” he said.

More than not just getting the reward, the whole team is now up for elimination and someone will have to leave the competition.  This is the fourth series of Master Chef and over that time, unlike in business contestants have rarely received a second chance.

Contestants understand the price they’ll pay for not delivering to customer expectations.  It’s a dream dashed and the end of their TV adventure.  It’s a  consequence that is consistently applied.

In business I’ve found that people are given so many second chances that they forget there are consequences for poor performance.  And the number of second chances someone gets is inconsistently handed out.   Managers give team members second chances and customers give suppliers second chances. In reality we’re all much more forgiving than judges on TV.

We need second chances in business.  Knowing that we’ll get one is what gives us the confidence to try new things.   Having the space to try something different creates new opportunities.  Feeling like you won’t get a second chance stifles creativity.

But second chances shouldn’t be handed out indiscriminately within business.  Wouldn’t you be more likely to try something outrageous that just might work if you knew when it was ok to not quite hit the mark the first time around?  And on the flip side, would you be extra careful with something when you knew it was the end of the line if something didn’t work?  Imagine how much more focused we’d all be, and how much more we could achieve well if we were clear about the times when a second chance would be handed out.

All it takes to give a team member that certainty is an honest conversation. Kind of like setting the rules for a reality TV show and then playing by them.

Article by Janeece Keller