I recently attended a conference and each day the programmed presentations never started on time and therefore ran overtime for the entire conference. This caused a level of anxiety for the conference organisers and their keynote presenters. The reason for the delayed starts and overrun was not necessarily the fault of the organisers or speakers, but was a result of attendees arriving late at the start of each day and wandering in to sessions that had already started. Usually armed with their take away coffee and chatting in to their mobile phone!
It reminded me of when, many years ago, the Managing Director of the business I was with had a hard and fast rule which was if you were not on time you were not allowed in to the meeting. Perhaps the conference organisers could have implemented this rule. I recall many managers being locked out of those meetings, armed with their take away coffee and donut, peering in to the meeting room asking to be let in. But the Managing Director was adamant – be on time, or bad luck!
Call me “old school”, but I have always been a stickler for punctuality. And not just because I was in the Navy either where not being punctual was a punishable offence. Punctuality was a habit I developed early on in life and a lesson learnt from my parents and school teachers. For me it is one of the most valuable skills to possess.
Why? Because, being punctual shows your respect for others. Being late is a selfish act, for it puts your needs above another’s. You want an extra minute to do what you’d like such as grab that take away coffee and donut! But by gaining that minute or more for yourself, you take away from another person or your team, which is why being late is akin to stealing.
In a scheduled appointment, the late-comer usually gives an impression that you don’t value the other person’s time or considers your time more important than that of the other. This is exactly why if you are in the position of being a candidate, for example, you should never be late at a job interview! However, the same applies to any meeting no matter whether with colleagues or external parties.
Many companies, recognizing the busy schedules of their employees, have introduced a meeting policy whereby the meeting will start on the hour or half hour but only go for 45 minutes. This allows for a bit of overrun time but also time to “collect yourself” before the next meeting or appointment. Still, you need to be there on time for when meeting starts.
There are numerous links on the internet that can help you – here is one to get your started on developing the habit of punctuality.
Being punctual will be a strong success contributor in your life and career.
About the Author: Stephen Harvey is a co-Founder and Director of Bouncement. If you ever have a meeting with Stephen please be on time!