Are you in the habit of keeping your time commitments? When you are scheduled to attend a meeting or conference call, are you early, just-in-time, casually late, known to reschedule often, or known for being habitually late?
If you are honest, your real answer will be, “it depends”. It depends on who you are meeting with, the purpose of the meeting, how important the meeting is to you, whether you feel the group will wait for you or start without you, your seniority as compared to the others in the room, whether there any consequences for lateness, whether you think that what you are doing is more important than what will happen at the meeting, etc. In other words, it’s all about YOU. So it’s all right that you are being selfish, do not care about the others’ feelings, are only worried about the here and now, and are not thinking about the broader consequences.
You Generate Direct & Indirect Costs When You Miss or Are Late to a Meeting
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, canceling, 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.
Justifications to Being Late or Missing a Meeting
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 or e-mails to return.
- Another matter was more important.
- Traffic was bad.
- I was in another meeting that ran too long.
Consequences When You’re Late or Miss a Meeting
The reality is that you damage your personal brand, hurt your organization and others every time you are late, cancel, miss, or reschedule a meeting that you agreed to attend. You need to be responsible when making meeting commitments, and try your hardest to be on-time for them. People would not invite you unless they felt it was important for you to be there to provide your input. If you do not want to participate in a meeting, do not accept the invitation. If you are in the habit of overcommitting yourself… stop, and take the time to look over your schedule.
Do You Over Commit?
Overcommitting is not helpful to anyone, including yourself. If you question the value of a meeting or your need to be there, do so beforehand. Most importantly, be respectful to everyone. Those leaders that have the mindset that “I am the boss so everyone should wait” are usually the ones who have the lowest employee engagement / productivity. To those of you who think that a call from a client trumps everything else, your clients have no idea what you are doing at any given moment, and most of the other issues you think can’t wait really can.
Learn more about effective meetings:
- Effective Meetings Focus on Decisions
- Effective Meetings Require Time
- Effective Meetings Require a Purpose
- Effective Meetings Have Conflict