Arriving late is a way of saying that your time is more valuable than the people who waited for you. (Karen Joy Fowler)
Life is unpredictable and most people can understand that, BUT when you make a habit of being late it makes it hard to trust you, and people might stop depending on you or delegating tasks out to you.
Regardless of your position, when you are late and hold up a meeting it can lead others to believe that you feel like your time is more valuable than theirs.
It doesn’t matter if traffic was bad, you had to drop the kids off at school or your prior meeting with the executive team ran over. Late is late.
When you accept that being late is not okay and learn how to appropriately handle the situation, the people you work with can adjust accordingly and waste less of their time waiting on you.
If you have CLS or Chronic Late Syndrome, here is one way to get better at managing your time. Every day for the next week outlines your time. Look at your day and everything you have planned in 30-minute increments. Plan out traffic, time to make lunch, time for post-meeting discussions, time to go to the bathroom, time to walk from one side of the office to the other, literally map out time for everything you do. Get good at managing your minutes. Being late can almost always be avoided if you plan ahead.
Make sure you always give yourself plenty of time for the unpredictable. If you realize you are going to be late, make sure to let everyone know as soon as possible. Don’t make excuses or interrupt the meeting when you get there late – just sit down and jump in as an active participant. When you walked through the door late everyone realized you were here. You don’t need to stop the meeting to notify the attendees of your presence. If you are late, own it. Apologize and move on. There is nothing worse than listening to a long story about why someone is late when you are already behind schedule.
If you are dealing with someone who has CLS it’s crucial that you have an honest conversation with them as soon as it starts happening to let them know that it’s affecting their performance. Don’t allow them to derail progress when they are late. Give a five-minute grace period and start the meeting. Don’t waste everyone else’s time on one person. Make sure someone always takes notes at meetings and then sends them out promptly after. If someone is late and asks a question about a topic that was covered when they weren’t there, kindly let them know that you won’t be going back to discuss the topic again and that they can catch up in the notes and reach out to you with any follow-up questions. Include a list of attendees and who was and wasn’t present so that you can refer to this information in the future. If someone is always late to your meetings reevaluate if they need to be there in the first place. Lastly, find out what led the person to be late so you can prepare to avoid scheduling meetings in a way that could cause a repeat issue in the future. If Joe always has another meeting that runs over before yours maybe think about pushing your start time back a half hour.