Dealing with Tardiness

Strategies for Leaders Dealing with Tardiness

Do you know someone who is always late for work or shows up late to meetings all the time? Maybe you are that person, OR maybe you have to manage that person. How do you deal with tardiness in the workplace?

As is the case in many scenarios, everything depends on circumstances. You are not alone. In the courses we have taught, participants tell us of similar scenarios all the time. Here are a couple of pointers.

Keep in mind the “style” of each person. Some individuals have a different personality and communication style. In one of our courses we start with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI), so they become aware of their own type and so they can identify potential conflict issues.

Showing up late may be a style matter. The person may have spent too much time chatting with a colleague before coming to the meeting and lost track of time (Extraverted, Feeling type). Another person may come in late thinking the first few minutes of every meeting are just a waste of time doing introductions instead of going into the core of the meeting (Sensing, Thinking type).

Talking these issues through with the individuals and helping them understand how they patterns are affecting performance may help improve behavior.

Another aspect to consider is expectations. Is it critical that everyone be present at the same time? Will that affect outcomes in any way? Making it clear to everyone and setting the expectations will help people understand the need to be punctual. It is also necessary for the team to understand the consequences of tardiness. I don’t mean disciplinary consequences, but rather how the behavior affects outcomes. If possible attach a metric to it. For example, if a key person is 20 minutes late for a key portion of the meeting, those 20 minutes may equal several hundred Dollars/Euros to the company in lost productivity, plus the project itself may be affected. Helping the team see the impact of behavior on productivity can help them understand the importance of meeting expectations.

You may say, “but these are adults. I should not have to say or do any of these things.” You may be right, but as leaders we don’t have the luxury to think this way. Part of managing people is helping them see behaviors in themselves that they may not have been aware of in the past and help them improve.

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