Does this happen to you?
Our meetings never start on time because people are always late. The rest of us sit and wait, checking email and thinking about what could be getting done if we were back at our desks. Or we start the meeting without the latecomers. Eventually they show up and want us to catch them up on the discussion. Help!
It is frustrating when fellow employees – colleagues, supervisors or subordinates — are late for meetings. Does it disrupt the meeting when someone walks in after the appointed time? You bet. For those of us who wait for the latecomers to arrive, or who start without them, we may wonder what’s going on in people’s heads when they are consistently tardy. No question about it – it is inconsiderate. We feel as if they are stealing our time and our colleagues’ time, too.
From their perspective:
Being chronically late for meetings is more common than you think (although is still not acceptable). I’m not talking about coming in late once in a while because that can (and does) happen to everyone. With an average of 11 million meetings a day in America*(yikes!), someone will be late. Often it is the CEO. CEOs were tardy 60% of the time according to a survey of chief executives by management consulting firm Proudfoot. What kind of message does that send to company employees? Being punctual for a meeting, from the CEO on down, sets the right tone. Meetings starting on time (or not) can be attributed to the leadership of the company. Sometimes it starts with one person, probably the one with the most seniority at the table, being consistently late for a meeting. Before you know it, it becomes the norm and now everyone is 5-10 minutes later. Since most professionals attend a total of 62 meetings monthly**, wasted time adds up quickly.
CEOs may be late for their own company meetings but, interestingly, are punctual when they meet customers or clients. In the Proudfoot survey which covered nine countries, only French executives were late to more meetings than U.S. executives (late 65% of the time vs. 60%). Japanese CEOs had the highest on-time rate (late 34% of the time).
Waiting 10-15 minutes for a meeting to begin can be very costly to a company. When you multiply salaries by the time wasted, it can be a very expensive proposition. And how about the cost to morale? Employees who make it their business to be on time end up spending precious minutes waiting for others so the meeting can finally begin.
At a large company based in Atlanta, meetings are the culture of the company. The day is driven by meetings – starting early in the morning and steadily continuing throughout the day. All day long people move from one meeting to the next. If a meeting starts late, everyone’s schedule is thrown out of whack for the rest of the day. In other companies, you may not be heading for another meeting, but a late start will affect how well you are able to manage your day.
Here are a few tips to help round up everyone in the same room at the same time:
Before the meeting:
At the meeting:
After the meeting:
If your boss is always late:
If a subordinate is always late:
*A network MCI Conferencing White Paper. Meetings in America: A study of trends, costs and attitudes toward business travel, teleconferencing, and their impact on productivity.
**Same source as above