A truly effective executive keeps his/her time commitments. Regardless the industry, position one holds, function you are in, or size of company, it is critical to take being on time seriously. In addition, I believe that if you do not get to most meetings at least 15 minutes early you are losing huge opportunities. While being on time and keeping your meetings is necessary, being 15 minutes early can be a gold mine. I have had clients partially apply this secret, and the results were automatic.
Every time you reschedule, cancel, miss, or are late to a meeting, you generate direct and/or indirect costs. If one looks at the situation objectively and follows the chain of impact from rescheduling, cancelling, missing, or being late in order to quantify the costs, you would see that some examples of the problems include:
- Reduced employee loyalty/satisfaction because of frustration, disappointment, or even anger, which in turn leads to decreased productivity and/or increased employee turnover
- Reduced customer loyalty/satisfaction because of frustration, disappointment, or even anger, which decreases revenue
- Increased errors, which can reduce customer service or product quality, leading to a rise in product returns, reduced revenue, increased charge-backs, etc.
- Decreased productivity while people wait around for meetings to start, or stop for recaps of material already covered for the benefit of latecomers
- Increases in the length of time it takes to make critical decisions, sometimes by months, which costs you revenue and sometimes extra expenses.
The culprits always justify their actions with comments such as:
- My biggest customer needed me.
- An emergency had to be dealt with.
- I had too many phone calls/e-mails to return.
- Another matter was more important.
- Traffic was bad.
- The other meeting ran too long.
The comments above may be reasonable responses on occasion, but, in most cases, they are excuses for not being responsible, and they are costing you, others, and your company even if you cannot isolate and measure the cost.
Think about your own experience. What are your true thoughts about someone who is late? When your doctor keeps you waiting for 45 minutes, are you happy when he finally sees you? Does he seem more qualified, somehow better than other doctors, worth paying more to see? Is this someone you would want to refer to a friend, invite over for dinner, do a special favor for, or maybe work until midnight for? Of course not! Amazingly, though, bosses somehow think it is okay to make employees stand outside their offices for 20 minutes while they take a phone call, or have them wait in the conference room until they’re ready to make an appearance, or ask people to cancel other meetings to attend theirs. In the end these executives are ineffective and are causing their team to be ineffective as well, which is costing their organization big money.
Regardless of what people tell you, if you are late for meetings by more than 5 minutes twice a week, reschedule or cancel meetings more than twice a week, or miss meetings twice a month, you can be more successful merely by improving your time management.
Another aspect of the importance of keeping meetings and being on time is trustworthiness. Salespeople have learned that the first step in the buying process is to get the prospect to “buy” the salesperson. If the buyer does not trust the salesperson, it will likely not matter how good the company or its products are. The salesperson will go home without a sale. If the salesperson does not show up on time it lowers trust.
Well folks, everyone is in sales. We are selling to employees, bosses, boards of directors, shareholders, children, customers, vendors, and so on. If you are on time and keep your meetings with someone, you help earn trust, which in turn helps earn power with someone, and then the sales process has a chance of happening. On the other hand, if you cancel meetings, make people wait, show up late, and constantly reschedule, you lose their trust. You lose power with that person, and there is no deal. It is that simple!
Even better than being on time is the “15 Minutes Early Plan.” Have you ever noticed that when you arrive at someone’s office to have a meeting, that is when they start preparing for your meeting? This is especially true if you are in sales. The prospect is never ready, so by getting there just in time, you lose at least 10 minutes of your allotted time. Arriving early usually gets you 10 more minutes of productive time. And if the prospect is someone really important (like the CEO), it might be weeks or months before you get “face-time” again, so those are 10 big minutes.
Another benefit of the “15 Minutes Early Plan” is to lower the impact of road rage from the horrible traffic in Miami and South Florida. Estimating a just-in-time arrival requires PhDs in geography, quantum physics, and mathematics, and a lot of luck. By planning to be 15 minutes early, you can bring less stress to your meeting and your life.
Even if you do not have to drive, it is just no fun to rush around. It is nice to have a few minutes between meetings to have a glass of water, call your significant other to say hello, or take a few deep breaths before running to the next meeting. You will find that you get more done, and your input will be much better. In addition, it gives you an opportunity when you get to the meetings to have some time to develop rapport with others without having to waste valuable meeting time.
As I’ve already mentioned, all of this is linked to success. What is meant by success? Success is defined by the individual, and typically defined in terms of money, friends, possessions, colleagues, status, power, prestige, customer satisfaction, strong family, etc. At the end of the day, I leave it to you to find your definition of success. Use the “15 Minutes Early Plan” and you will have more of it.
We help clients maximize their growth by providing strategies on the fly, knowledge, and motivation. Contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7213 or [email protected] to find out how a business coach, our consultants and trainers can help you accelerate your success.