I’ve always said you can tell a lot about an organisation by the timekeeping of the people within it. Are they always running late? Always holding others up because they can’t seem to manage their time effectively? Besides being annoying & I would argue unprofessional, it shows how much they value the other people within the organisation.
By making people wait for you, consistently, the message you portray is that you are the one who is important, and the others are not. It says they are not as high of a priority as anything else. Sure, it happens from time to time, even I have been known to be late, but VERY rarely. When it is the norm, people begin to believe that being on time doesn’t matter. If I don’t have to show up on time, do I need to deliver on time?
It may seem harmless, 5 minutes here or there, but it is indicative of how we run our business. It demonstrates that we are not in control of ourselves & thus not in control of our business.
Maybe we over-commit? Maybe we are overbooked with too many meetings? Andy Bounds wrote about this today in fact with his latest Tuesday Tip, “Stop Pointless Meetings” . Whatever the reason, think about the message it sends.
If this is in your control (which is usually the case) then you can do something about it. If it isn’t, then you can still do something about it, but that should start with determining who’s causing it & why and then working with that person or team to make the necessary changes.
In reality this is a cultural, habitual issue. Something that takes time & effort to change. If everyone else is always late, why should you put any effort in to being any different? Leadership is not about being like everyone else, it is about setting the example (among other things). If you and/or your organisation are always late internally, it is likely this is the case externally as well. What does that say about the value you place on your customer?
There are plenty of methods, techniques & advice on how to improve your timekeeping. Like any other bad habit though, the first step is accepting that something has to be done. Stop thinking 5 minutes here & there is not a big deal. It is!