As a leader, you’ll understand the need to forgive and forget and the poison that comes from holding a grudge. That is after all, what makes you a leader. The hard part isn’t forgiving. The hard part is forgetting. When it comes down to it, in fact, should you even try to forget?
If you’re a good leader, you’ll be giving your staff lots of leeway to be making mistakes. After all, if they don’t make mistakes, they’re not going to learn anything. It can be quite painful in fact to watch the dunderheaded moves that some people can make. Staying quiet while they screw up is essential to being a good manager as long as the mistake isn’t catastrophic. So to help people learn and grow, you need to let them make mistakes and then you have to forgive them for those mistakes.
But forgetting, I don’t think so. If you did actually manage to forget then you risk someone making a mistake time after time. The key is to remember the mistake a but watch to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. If you do see something happen again and again then you’ll need to step in to make sure it stops finally.
If the issue never arises again then forgetting is also not appropriate as this is great fodder in a performance appraisal of how your direct report has grown and learned.
Next time one of your direct reports does something totally outlandishly boneheaded, be quick to forgive and make sure your forgiveness is verbal. At the same time though, find some way to keep track in a performance management system of lessons learned so that while you forgive, you can remind them later of lessons that they have learned and how they have grown.