Some recent observations and events have caused me to ask a few questions about time and punctuality.
Is it a reality of our busy lives today that we just cannot be on time?
I understand that we all fill our calendars to the maximum available minute and cram as much in as possible within a working day but is it all worth it in the long run?
Is punctuality, and I would go so far as to say basic respect for others actually dead?
Why do I ask this?
As both a person who makes many appointments based on time windows for clients, leads and networking opportunities, as well as an observer and participant of other peoples meetings, it appears that the level of ‘on time’ meeting attendance is dramatically declining. All too often the other party whom is attending the meeting is running late, is late, or doesn’t arrive at all! In the majority of these instances this occurs without even any notice of the delay being offered, or an apology when or if they do turn up.
So why is it happening?
Perhaps in the 24/7 world of constant contact, workload demands and a fear of saying “no” to requests due to the potential for a business opportunity, we are over-committing our time? Maybe it is that we don’t want to let people down in the first place, but ultimately do in the tardiness, or maybe we have simply lost the respect for time in itself!
Whatever the reason, the impact of becoming known as the one who is always late, can cause considerable damage not only to you as a person, but more importantly to the brand you are representing. No one likes being kept waiting for the scheduled 10am meeting due to others poor planning and execution. I personally have taken an approach after being in this situation too many times, that I will wait 10 or so minutes, then politely leave a message that I am leaving and they can re-schedule when it suits me, and I won’t go out of my way to move time to fit them in a second time.
What can you do?
Common courtesy and respect is the key.
If you are running late, and it does happen, given traffic, personal circumstance or the prior meeting going overtime, but a simple call, SMS or email can be used to advise the waiting person that you will be late. More importantly if you say you will be 10 minutes late, be there within that 10 minutes, not an additional 30! Having worked in other countries, I have experienced cultures where time is not the focus and being left waiting for people is a given, and while I still found this rude, it was a way of life and you soon learn to adjust your own behaviour to not be as punctual as you normally would be.
We are all busy, and we all only have the same limited resource of time available each day, so take time to respect this resource that others are allocating to you for that meeting. Remember first impressions start well before the actual face to face aspect of the meeting!
Great post Tony. This is a real issue. I have experienced it myself and it does have negative implications in many ways. And I also agree that there are cultures where time is not the focus, however we live and work in fast changing times.
To counter the time wastage, I have set some personal rules and they are.
I am always on time, and if I am running late (as sometimes happens due to unforeseen circumstances) you will get a call.
I start my meetings on time. If you aren’t there.. tough.
If someone is more than 5 minutes late, without notification.. I move on to the next item on my list. I will not wait.
This may seem a little heavy handed.. but let’s face it. I have limited time on this earth and I’m not going to waste it waiting around for someone who does not respect it.
Thanks Don, looks like we share common views of poor punctuality!
I don’t think it is heavy handed at all, but simply shows you value your time as a precious commodity.