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In response to last month's newsletter on how to be punctual to meetings
, one reader made this comment:
…I have to wait and make small talk with the rest while we wait for the "power trip" guy to show up.
One of the more Dilbert-like aspects of many workplaces is to be on time for a meeting and then sit and wait for the stragglers. Whether those stragglers have had a genuine emergency or are simply exerting their power over the group, the punctual attendees are punished and the tardy ones are rewarded.
Let’s not allow the late-to-the-meeting people to get the upper hand. There may be hope after all for the on-timers. The next time you are in charge of a meeting, think about trying a few of the tips below to help round up everyone in the same room at the same time.
Before the meeting:
Tips to Start Meetings on Time with Everyone Present
At the meeting:
- Send a meeting invitation through Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar. Include an agenda listing the topics, the persons responsible, and the time people will be presenting. Put late offenders at the beginning of the agenda.
- Include these words on the meeting invitation: Please note that this meeting will begin and end on time.
- Confirm the meeting by email a day or two prior. Remind participants about the purpose and anticipated outcomes of the meeting and what they will be contributing. Set up a tardiness fine of $1 for every minute a person is late. Mention this in advance so no one will be caught off guard, and specify that the money will be donated to charity. Maybe even give the fund a special name or identity so that any ill feelings can be directed to the jar, not the meeting facilitator.
After the meeting:
If your boss is always late:
- Start the meeting on time; why should those who are on time be penalized? Despite what the latecomers may think, no one has time to spare.
- Do not count people being on time if they walk into the meeting room, put down their stuff, and leave to get coffee. They are still late if they do not return before the scheduled start time.
- Continue the meeting even as latecomers enter the room. Acknowledge them with a nod and keep going. There is no need to review what had been discussed before their arrival.
- Lock the door two minutes after the start time. Employees at a high-tech company in California started to do this so their boss would get the idea that his late arrival was not appreciated. Of course, they opened the door when the boss knocked.
- Reschedule the meeting if people, especially the key players, do not show up within ten minutes of the time the meeting is scheduled.
- End the meeting on time. This sends a clear message that you are respectful of people’s time.
- Thank the persons who donated money because they were late.
If a subordinate is always late
- Meet with her at another time. Ask her opinion about starting the meeting without her.
- Check if a different time would fit the boss’ schedule better so she could be there at the start of the meeting.
- Speak to the subordinate privately and try to find out why the person is chronically late for work or meetings. Make this article or even this book required reading before the discussion. They should come to you with a plan to address the issues.
- Discuss the resources that the company is willing to provide to help the associate improve. Maybe a time management class or, ahem, a productivity specialist can help?
- If the tardiness continues, you may need to initiate a performance improvement plan.
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Next Month's Newsletter Topic
: Where Should I Save My Files?
With the move to paperless workplaces, well-organized electronic files are a must. However, with all the options to choose from, where should you save your files? Look for the next newsletter on the last Tuesday of the month.
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