Punctuality is difficult for many people. It speaks loudly to those around you and is often influenced by those around you. We pick up habits from others we don't realize, which, in some circumstances, are great (better eating habits), or can be pretty detrimental (missing appointments).
Early in my career, I had this message driven home from a seasoned boss who had no tolerance for our young team's arrogant attitude. We were all relatively new to the world of adulting and somehow felt we were "all that" and invincible.
He had watched us from afar. When he took over leadership of our team, he immediately hauled us all into the conference room and chewed us out about our attitudes and behaviors, showing a clear lack of respect for the business and our peers. He schooled us on proper business behaviors, and punctuality was his #1 message: Show up on time and be prepared for the conversation or plan to be working somewhere else.
This was an excellent lesson for me and one I adopted that afternoon as my own. I don't like being chewed out, and I don't like being wrong. He was right; I certainly knew better, had been raised in a very prompt family, and was just being rude.
I'm sure we were perfectly respectable and punctual in our personal lives, but group think can drag down even the best-intentioned. The behavior crept in over time as our previous boss allowed it to continue without consequences and was a late arriver himself. The culture created and tolerated it.
Being chronically late impacts trust in relationships. People know they can't count on you and will begin treating you accordingly. When you show up late, you're not only disruptive but also sending the message that you respect your time more than everyone else's.
If you're stressed and flustered when you arrive, you've lost focus and aren't at your best for sharing or receiving information. You only get a fraction of the discussed information when you're in this mindset.
For some, timeliness is just a given. For others, it's a pleasant surprise if it happens – as if being on time is something that happens to us rather than us being the ones responsible for the timeliness of our actions.
I had another boss who was the tardy one. In future roles where I ran the meetings, having adopted the timeliness attitude, I insisted on the same. The one exception was the boss, who would chronically wander in 5, 10, and 20 minutes late, dragging excuses with him about how other, more important things took his time.
When you lead a team, your team should be your most important thing. If you can't show up for them, why should they show up for you or on your behalf as a company representative? So much disrespect.
Instead of getting mad and yelling about tardiness, make it an expectation of your culture that everyone will walk into the room or log into the meeting no less than a minute before starting time. Zoom sends out 1-minute reminders of meetings starting, and I use those as my very last-minute-to-get-logged-in cue.
Set the timeliness expectation with new employees. Let them know what the behavioral expectations and norms are. The rest of the team will help reinforce it with their behaviors. If someone isn't adhering to the rules, have a 1-1 conversation reminding them and give them a chance to change.
When you go into a meeting properly prepared, you are more relaxed and present in the moment. You will also be acutely aware of those wandering in late and being disruptive with their apologies of tardiness.
Content provided by Q4intelligence
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