Coming late To Meetings

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When we fear something, we often complain about it. And when we complain about something, we rile ourselves up and convince ourselves that our fears are justified. The more we complain about a decision that's already been made, the more frustrated we become.

If you come late to a meeting once, I notice.The first time you demonstrate a lack of teamwork, I notice.I need to better understand your commitment to the group.I always say some version of, I’ve noticed something three times and I want to discuss it with you. That way we both know it’s a trend.Is it okay to talk to them about it the first time?You don’t have to wait.But everyone slips once or twice.Just don’t let it go more than three times without having a conversation.Three is a good rule of thumb because it allows you to act with confidence that it’s not all in your head.So, Mike said to me after I explained my rule of three, are you saying I should talk to her about it?I can’t help but notice you’ve asked me that same question three times, I said.What do you think?Don’t wait too long to bring something up.People can only respect boundaries they know are there.We are so late! she said.What do you mean? I responded.The party doesn’t start for an hour.We’ve got plenty of time.Peter. She didn’t hide her annoyance.We’re a hundred miles from the city.There’s no way we can make it on time.But we’re not late yet. I smiled.We’re still an hour early.This explains why I am always late and Eleanor is always on time.Eleanor, you see, plans for transition time.It’s eleven o’clock.We’re already thirty minutes late for tomorrow night’s party.Eleanor, of course and as usual, is right.My intentions are good.I don’t like being late.Most people who are late don’t like being late.And I never plan to be late or intend to be late.I understand that it’s disrespectful and unprofessional.I have a very high need to be efficient and productive.I’d rather just be somewhere.I don’t want to waste the time getting there.So even though I know I should leave more time, I push it, clinging to the illusion that I can get places faster than is humanly possible.I’m not the only one.Even if they’re just phone meetings, we can’t dial that fast.And when you throw in a bathroom break?It’s premeditated lateness, and we do it all the time.One of my clients has a policy not to start a training program until ten minutes after it is scheduled to start.That’s institutionalized lateness.But the joke is on us late people.Not just for the people who are waiting, but for the people who are late.Because nothing is more productive and efficient than transition time.It’s not just our time to travel.It’s our time to think and to plan.Now, what is the point of this meeting?The meeting probably should have been thirty minutes.But since we haven’t thought enough about it beforehand, the meeting drags on.If we took a few minutes before the meeting to really think about it, we could drastically shorten it.How can I make this shorter, faster, and more productive?Even five or ten minutes of that kind of planning can shave thirty minutes off a task.Think about your outcome.Think about what you really need from people.Spend your transition time plotting how to maximize your outcome.Need people’s ownership?Think about how you can involve them more openly, get their perspectives, and engage them.Ponder how you can have more fun.Maybe you’re thinking, But I already plan.But there’s no better planning time than the fifteen minutes before you walk into the room or get on the phone.Do you know any athlete who would rush off her cell phone and jump into the starting gate of a race?Because athletes know that transition time is productive time.End meetings at least fifteen minutes before the hour and schedule that time to prepare for the next one.Maybe, then, we can keep that meeting to thirty minutes and have an extra fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom, answer email, or surf the Web.That would be more efficient than doing those things during the meeting.I have more to say about this.But it’s only fifteen minutes until my next meeting so I’ve got to go.A few moments of transition time can help make your next task shorter, faster, and more productive for you and