When your employees are chronically late to a business meeting, a training session or an appointment with a customer, it is a good indication of lack of integrity both on the employee's part but also a company's culture that has allowed this unprofessional behavior to happen.
Unfortunately, when this issue is not addressed in a company, it becomes a rampant disease within a company and does not only hurt the company's reputation but it also makes the company lose resources including customers, money and other employees who are punctual.
If a company is consistently late at every department and the meetings are always delayed, it is a safe bet that the etiology is rooted from the upper management and the people at the helm of the company. This behavior is a cultural problem within a company and if it is not addressed quickly and proactively, the company will suffer the consequences.
We all know that there are only a certain number of hours in a day that a company can serve its customers and make money. Money and time is directly related. When a meeting is planned, the company gives up its resources (personnel, time & money ) to conduct these meetings. In addition, there is the " Loss of Opportunity" cost, that is the amount of money an employee is expected to earn if the employee was not at that meeting. If you constantly face the issue of tardiness in your company and you have to always wait for people to show up, it is guaranteed that your customers are experiencing the same behavior and they are taking their business to a competitor who is more reliable and respects their time.
The bottom line is that your company is losing money silently through lost revenue, lost business to a competitor and you have you are slowly punishing and demoralizing those employees who are punctual.
These are some of the suggestions that I have if this is a noticeable problem within your company:
1) If you are the leader, a manager or head of a department, you must set the perfect example of punctuality yourself. You need to directly communicate to your employees that late meetings are not tolerated.
2) Communicate effectively with your employees as the reason for the meeting and what is expected from them at the end of the meeting. For example, we will have a meeting discussion our marketing agenda for next quarter and at the end of the meeting, I expect that all of us have all of the information that we need so we can make our decision.
3) If the meeting is internal and you have late offenders, make a decision as whether or not you want to let them in the meeting room in advance, by announcing "the doors will be locked within 5 minutes of the meeting start time or please do not enter the meeting room if you are more than 5 minutes late". The 5 minutes’ grace period is for those people who have a genuine reason to be late and this can be expected. You must control the behavior in order to change the culture.
4) If the meeting or an appointment is with a potential client and your employee is late, you may or may not find out about this. If you do find out about this, have a conversation with your employee regarding this issue. If it is an isolated event, your conversation with your employee will show the value you put on your company's reputation and it communicates what is expected from the employee. However, if this is a chronic problem, you need to show your employee how his or her behavior affects the business and ask them to come up with a penalty that they will be responsible for. If they are not able to come up with a penalty, try to make an agreement with them that they need to resign from their job.
5) Send regular survey’s to your customers and part of the survey, try to ask if the meeting with your employees were punctual and ask their opinion.
Being on time is a sign that your employees are professional, they respect and care for the company's reputation. It is a sign of integrity and no company has ever reached the heights of success by having a work force that is chronically late.
Dr. Allen Nazeri is the founder of Nazeri & Company Co., Ltd a Consulting and Advisory group and can be reached Drallenci@gmail.com