Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Being On Time

Being On Time
Article By: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, June 2, 2005 updated September 2009

It is 9:00 AM in Baltimore, 8 AM in New Orleans, 6 AM in San Francisco and it is 5:25 at the Board of Realtors. Real estate agents are notorious for being late. It’s as if it is a fashion statement, a statement of independence or of power by being late for meetings.

The problem with writing Nuggets such as this one is that people tend to take it personally and feel a need to justify their actions or defend their position. No explanation, apology or justification is needed, expected or desired. The purpose of this Nugget For The Noggin is to simply point out the ramifications of being late for meetings, seminars/classes or appointments.

Let’s examine appointments first. There have been numerous studies regarding the Left Brain and the Right Brain. For the purpose of this Nugget, suffice it to say that a Left Brain person is literally a slave to the clock. There is a time and place for everything and they are never late! But to a Right Brain Person a specific time, such as 7:15 AM, may be 7:00 or it may be 7:45, time is not important. It may not be important to them but how do you think the Left Brain person who they are to meet with feels? If this is a sales call, you start out with one strike against you before you meet. In fact, you may have already been called out on strikes before you show up. Being on time is a two way street. Just as YOU expect people to meet YOU on time, most people expect YOU to meet THEM on time.

Meetings. The occasion of a meeting or class is what prompted me to write this Nugget. Hopefully everyone will simply take it and apply it to their lives as being important and not personal. What has past is past and forgotten. But, at a recent meeting/class, 11 of 33 attendees showed up late for the class. I am sure everyone had a reason or justification but that is not the point. There was an instructor from the government who had to stop and start every time a late attendee entered the room. It was extremely distracting not only for the presenter but also for everyone in the room. The repeated interruptions actually extended the time for her to make the presentation. More importantly, as it almost always occurs, someone who shows up late will almost assuredly ask a question that had already been covered or asked prior to their arrival.

In some instances, a quorum is needed before a meeting becomes official. In any case, if a quorum is required, no action can be taken if the required quorum is not present. Let’s say there are 12 members that are scheduled to meet and 7 members in attendance represents a quorum. Let’s also say that the meeting is to begin at 10:00 AM. At 10:30 there are only 6 voting members present. Clearly 30 minutes have been wasted while waiting for the 7th member to show up. If you are one of the 6, how does that make you feel? Unimportant? Disrespected? Angry? All three? If you are one of the 5, what are you thinking? “I’ll just be a few minutes late. After all, I have a real excuse for not being there on time. There will be enough people present to conduct the meeting.”

Everyone can verbalize a legitimate excuse for not attending or being late, or do they? If someone said they were going to give you $10,000 if you show up no later than 10:00 AM, would you be on time? Most events are scheduled well in advance so does it not make sense to enter the event on your day timer and then not schedule other activities that would clearly interfere with your commitment to participate? It also makes little to no sense to leave at the very last minute and allow no time for traffic or anything else that could deter you and make you late.

Education is the key to increased productivity. The more you learn the more productive you become. Educational classes are scheduled weeks and months out from the actual event. Therefore, if education is critical, and it should be, commit to attend and when someone wants to take you away from that commitment, learn to adjust and say, “As much as I would like to meet your schedule, I cannot because I am committed to attending a class.” Most people can accept that. If not, then you have to choose what is more important to you. If you choose NOT to attend the class, inform the party hosting the event that you will be unable to attend.

I recently attended an event where 45 people had signed up to attend; only 21 did. The hosting company had not only brought breakfast for 45, they also brought lunch for 45 and now had to throw away the excess food in addition to paying for it. When we commit to attend an event, it is very easy to justify not attending because after all, “it is only one person.” But as you can see by this example, it was NOT just one person; it was 24 one-persons!

I would like to think that no one is late on purpose. I would like to think that most people simply do not put a personal value on their being on time when so many others always seem to be late. They tend to justify being late by convincing themselves “it is only this one time.” Being late is being late. Being late is also being disrespectful to someone; either the presenter, the host, those in attendance or all of these people. But just as important, the part of the meeting/class/seminar that you missed might have triggered a question or input from you that could have changed the content of the program.

There is one simple rule to follow:


Oh, by the way,
when you attend;

That is a Nugget for another Day!




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