- March 8, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: management, productivity
I’m one of those sticklers for timeliness. You know, “early is on time, on time is late.”
That idea was drummed into me very early on in my career. It means if you have a meeting at 10:00 a.m., you don’t show up at 10:00. You show up at 9:55 so you’re ready to start the meeting at 10:00.
Because if you show up at 10:00, everyone else has to wait for you to get settled and you’ve spent a few precious minutes eating everyone else’s time. Six people at a meeting have lost a total of 30 minutes of productivity. Do that roughly twice a week, and in one year, you will have lost an entire employee’s week of productivity.
To combat this, and reinforce the “early is on time” practice, I developed a habit of locking people out of meetings if they weren’t on time. At the precise minute the meeting started, I locked the door on the office, conference room, or wherever we happened to be.
Whether it was an internal meeting, external meeting, national sales meeting, or a meeting with one of our own vendors, the door was locked, and the meeting continued without them. I didn’t care who it was, they weren’t allowed in the room.
Years ago, someone — not me — hired my son to work for Robroy. He was scheduled to be in a department meeting, and he showed up late.
I locked him out.
You can imagine what went through the organization after that. “If David will lock his own son out of a meeting, you can imagine what he’ll do to us!” People were rarely late to meetings after that, because they realized I was serious.
My son was never late to another meeting either.
Now, there are exceptions to every rule, of course, and there’s an exception to this one.
If you communicate with me before the meeting, and let me know you’re going to be late with a legitimate excuse — my last meeting ran over, I’m stuck in traffic right now, I’m injured — then I’ll let you in the door. Otherwise, I won’t. But it has to be a legitimate excuse before the meeting even begins, not after you missed it.
It’s very disrespectful to make a roomful of people wait for one person, and it certainly isn’t productive. But you only have to do that a few times before the message goes through the tribal pipeline: don’t be late for his or her meetings.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: SplitShire (Pexels.com, Creative Commons)