I am not exactly sure what it is, but punctuality has become a lost art. I have spent many a meeting sitting in a room by myself waiting for the rest of the attendees to arrive. I really started thinking about this topic when my clients thanked me for being on time to meetings and engagements. Isn’t showing up on time a basic agreement and REQUIREMENT in business!? This is difficult to say, but tardiness is rampant in the public sector and nonprofit world. Surprised? Did this statement shock and awe? We always joke about being on "government time," but why is that the accepted norm? I think it is easy to get caught up in the many jobs, hats, and meetings we all have to sit in. The regular excuses include: “I had another meeting,” “I got caught up,” or “I was just too busy.” While we all at one point or another do truly get hung up (in which case you should always notify the parties waiting for you, BEFORE the meeting is to actually begin), regular tardiness and unreliability is not a desirable quality. For example, I on average work 14 hours a day including my commute and am very rarely late somewhere. Nothing is more important than an obligation I made with someone (or even myself) whether it be a friend, business partner, client, or a stranger. I want to be seen as reliable and accountable. I generally am comfortable giving people a 5-10 minute grace to account for little hang ups, but 15-30 minutes late without correspondence is not ok (and happens regularly).
The root of excuses presents a complicated situation in itself. Our immediate need to come up with an excuse should be a signal that our perception is being skewed to justify our own actions. If you were truly confident in your stance or actions, there would be no need to explain yourself or get defensive. Whether it be an ongoing self-fulfilling prophecy or one of the many other heavily researched social psychological responses, being late on a regular basis is never an acceptable excuse. Excuses should serve as a message to ourselves that we are responding to a shortcoming which is OK. The only true failure is not learning from your mistakes. I had to learn in 2013 how to NOT become defensive, which for me was a huge endeavor, but now I rarely find myself making excuses. I can listen to feedback and address errors to move FORWARD. I learned that being defensive was never productive and only highlighted a part of myself that was unable to take criticism or feedback (not to say the feedback was always packaged properly). We can receive feedback gracefully, which does not mean necessarily taking it, but THINKING about it is important. What have I brought up in this person? What is this person bring up in me?
When it comes to leadership, you cannot gain trust or be a true leader if you cannot show up on time. Showing up is part of the battle, but being reliable is an even BIGGER piece. Constant tardiness reflects unreliability, decreased accountability, decreased trust, and can cause extreme frustration (especially if you are working with me). I am not sure when it became acceptable for “busy” people to be constantly late or how my peers have become accustomed to showing up “fashionably” late, but it is something that has to change. This brings me back to Self-branding...is that the image you want to send to people? Even if you are busy, do you want to show the world you are poor at time management? Your impact matters. Especially those in high level positions at companies should greatly consider the impact of their habits. People should always be cognoscente of how these action effects their peers, coworkers, and employees. Most importantly, people must learn to say NO. We cannot be in three places at once, nor would we want to be. Learning to say no can be a liberating moment and can improve accountability. In the long run, someone will be much more upset waiting for you than if you initially tell them no.
This blog is short and sweet because the main point is…DON’T BE LATE! Take a pledge with me, to not be the millennial people love to blog about!