Time is a form of communication that infers respect or the lack thereof. It is important to be cognizant of others time by being punctual at meetings and other events. When you do so, you let others know that you are present and denotes professionalism.
Be mindful that respect is a two-way street. As a leader, you set the tone of the meeting and promptly starting the meeting at the agreed upon time demonstrates that you are disciplined, responsible, effective and productive. You set the example of what is expected of your employees.
What to Do When Others Are Not Respectful of your Time
There are times when being late is unavoidable and this person will usually contact you to inform you of the situation. This is not what I’m referring to.
I am referring to those who for one reason or another are chronically late whether intentional or not. There could be many reasons at play; however, this behavior destroys the morale of the group as this can start a chain reaction where everyone begins to arrive late since the group never meets on time anyway. This can affect how you are viewed as a leader. So it is best to nip this in the bud before it gets out of hand.
There are several ways to address this behavior and it depends on the situation and the individual. The first thing to keep in mind is that regardless whether this person is intentionally late or not, try not to take it personally. When you view this as a personal attack, it will be difficult to address the behavior and not the person; especially if you must work with them. Focus on the behavior. Let’s look at how you can handle a couple of scenarios:
The Employee Who Is Chronically Late
Directly addressing the employee of being chronically late is the best course of action. Try to find out the reasons she is late. Is she experiencing a personal issue? Is she overwhelmed with meetings or work? Is she otherwise a good employee or if being chronically late a symptom of a bigger work issue? Does she underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete a task? If she is otherwise a good employee, what tools are available to help her? Maybe coaching in time management may be a solution. There is software available that can assist her. Try to work with her to help her get on task. But keep her accountable: She has to make the effort.
The Boss That Is Pulled In Several Directions
If this person is your boss and you know that due to her position, she is pulled into many directions, you could offer to help. You could say: I understand you are juggling several meetings in a given day, what can I can do on my end to make it easier for you? By asking this question, you make your boss aware of the effect of her lateness but you also let her know that you support her.
The Co-worker Who Is Chronically Late
The best way to handle this situation is to start the meeting promptly at the scheduled time. When you send out the agenda prior to the meeting, you can add: “The meeting will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m.” And then promptly start the meeting. When the peer comes in late, do not stop the meeting to offer to “tell her what she missed”. If she asks later, you can politely tell her that you are pressed for time but she can look for your email regarding the meeting summary when you send it out later.
This takes care of two situations: If your boss attends these meetings, her late arrival will make your boss aware of the situation for her to address the co-worker. If your boss does not attend the meetings, the pressure is put back onto the co-worker to get her act together.
An alternative is to address your peer directly. You can give her a head’s up that her tardiness reflects negatively on the team. This may work as she may appreciate your help or it may backfire as she may take offense. However, addressing your co-worker’s punctuality issues makes the peer confront the issue.
You may want to do both: Address your peer directly and start the meeting promptly at the scheduled time. Or as a final option, you can tell your supervisor. If the co-worker’s tardiness is causing an issue in your team (complaints) and directly addressing her does not help, then you may have no other choice but to talk to your supervisor. Before you talk to your supervisor, make sure you have documentation to back up your claim in case you need it.
Time is a very powerful tool. Use your respect of time to position yourself as a leader. When you meet deadlines, are punctual at meetings and other events, you communicate to others that you are disciplined, efficient, organized, professional and reliable; beneficial traits for leadership.
Have you ever had to deal with someone who is chronically late? How did you handle the situation?
Enjoy the rest of your week!
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