Does good time keeping matter any more?
Or has good timekeeping fallen as a priority?
In my time I have been guilty of some erratic timekeeping. I was very much “a one more thing before I go” type of girl and a great subscriber to the phrase “fashionably late”. I would scoot into places about 7-10 minutes after the scheduled start. Apologetic of course, but really… was I?
I was lucky enough early in my career to have a manager who monetized the communally wasted time whenever any of our team was late for a meeting. It was actually quite shocking. If we had all been held financially accountable, our pay cheques would have been significantly lighter.
He saved me from myself.
When I transitioned into sales I had to replace “better late than never “ with “never late is better”. Arriving late isn’t actually a recognised commercially winning strategy. As a head hunter being on time is critical, particularly in a candidate-driven market when first impressions count. As a coach ditto.
I have become acutely aware in recent weeks how erratic general timekeeping seems to have become and how easily the phrase “running late “, has slipped into our daily business and social vernacular, including my own. Very often people apologise, (sometimes they don’t), explaining that either they, someone, or something else was “running late“, as though they were a bus service, entirely passive and had nothing to do with it at all.
It can be a feature of some cultures where late arrivals are factored into the time allocation by the organisers. Some webinar organisers say let’s wait (for 5, or 10 minutes) for everyone to arrive. But what about the people who arrive on time?
Good timekeeping is usually a choice
But do you choose to be late? If we are always late by the same amount of time, psychologists say there could be a number of reasons – but no doubt, it’s about us!
We might be:
⏲️Rebellious – not doing what’s expected
⏲️A crisis maker – need an adrenalin rush to get going
⏲️ Attention seeker – which comes with being last through the door and going through the apology ritual.
⏲️Power playing – I’m more important than you are, sending a message of disrespect.
⏲️Avoider – you don’t want to meet the person, or attend the meeting, so leave it until the very last-minute.
Whenever I have a question that niggles me I always like to check in and do a litmus test. I asked my network whether they had good timekeeping habits and 25% were on the “better late than never” end of the spectrum. I was quite surprised.
Never late is better
When I looked at the comments I could see that there were those like me who because of the nature of our work are disciplined. Dr. Allisha Ali, Leadership Coach, shared “I use to be a chronic late-comer until I got some wake-up feedback in terms of the example I was setting for my team. Since then I am 99% on-time or early in the Professional space. For personal activities, I go with the cultural expectations!”
Spencer Muhonen President and Founder of the Professional Sales Society at Brigham Young University is definitely on the side of punctuality.
Kristen Fife, Senior Technical Recruiter “I live by my calendar – which includes a LOT of phone calls and meetings. If someone is late, I generally reschedule because there is a format to my calls and I know exactly how long it takes.”
Erin Kennedy , Resume Writer “I think being late is rude. My husband and I both on time or early and yet one of our kids is late. ALL. THE. TIME. It drives us nuts.
I think being late says, “I don’t find you/this valuable.”
That doesn’t mean to say that I don’t give a grace period. There are always extenuating circumstance,s especially in the last few years.
Shelley Piedmont US-based Career Coach commented “One of my Clifton Strengths is Discipline, Dorothy. I am a big believer in making plans and putting systems into place. That is why I am not often late. But I understand others are not built that way. They have to do them.”
Diana Alt Career and Leadership Coach “I work pretty hard to be on time, but I give myself and others grace if they are a bit late – especially if they communicate along the way. So, I’d say I’m in the middle.
How long should it be?
So if we do wait for people to arrive how long should that be?
Virginia Franco, Resumé Writer “It’s strange — I’ve always considered myself a “never late is better” but don’t get upset if someone is running a tad late.” “a tad” for Virginia is ” 10 -15 minutes”
15 minutes for me is deal-breaker late.
Marti Konstant, Workplace Futurist, advocates that group meetings should start on time which I support. “However, group meetings and special presentations need to start on time, to respect the schedule of others, AND it is a disciplined approach to time management.”
They should also finish on time. Respect for people’s time comes not just at the beginning of a meeting but at the end. Very often people are late throughout the day because the first meeting didn’t run to schedule.
Lisa Rangel Executive Resume Writer describes herself as a reformed workaholic and is being kinder to herself and uses any waiting time more constructively “I think I just became gentler with myself and everyone else. We aren’t curing cancer and I have given less weight to self-imposed deadlines.”
This is also a good point. To ask ourselves if the delay really matters in the overall scheme of things and we can use that time constructively. It can also be important with self-imposed deadlines.
At the root of good timekeeping is respect for the time of others. People will cut poor timekeepers some slack occasionally, but eventually, it will catch up with them.
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