I’m responsible for coordinating and running a bi-weekly meeting with colleagues, and I’m over-the-top frustrated with how many individuals stroll in late. I keep these meetings short, have an agenda and stay on task. Since everyone needs to hear the information, I don’t want to start without at least half the members present, but it seems that very few arrive on time. In the past, I’ve asked everyone to please be on time in my email reminders. What do you suggest I say or do differently?
Running Out of Patience
Dear Running Out of Patience,
I still remember talking with a sales manager who docked his employees $1 for every minute they were late and another who made people sing the Barney theme song hoping to embarrass them in to promptness. Unfortunately, as a colleague, you don’t have the same luxury to enforce such incentives. My theory is that people do what they do because they can – the cost vs. payoff isn’t great enough to change.
I applaud you for doing your best to keep the meetings short and the use of an agenda. I would probably place “timeliness” on the next agenda and state: “As a team we’ve been allowing lateness to become the norm, and I want to remind you that the start time for these meetings is X (if possible choose an unusual time such as 9:13 a.m. as it’s more memorable). So that all of us can maximize our day, from this point forward I will begin on time and stick with the agenda.” Next meeting, start on time even if it’s just you in the room! When someone arrives late and needs to know something that was already covered, simply say, “We already discussed that item. You’ll have to get the information from someone else following the meeting.” When the meeting is over, quickly gather your items and get back to work rather than be available for others to find out what they missed.