Start meetings on time. Always.

16th February 2016

Your meetings today.

Will they start on time?

They should.

But I bet some won’t.

Because people will always rock up late.

They might apologise. They might not.

They might go and get a coffee before they sit down – meaning people have to wait even longer for them.

They might even expect a recap of what’s been covered so far – meaning everyone who was on time has to hear it again.

But when you let this happen, you enable their poor behaviour. And disrespect the people who turned up on time.

How to fix this?


Start on time. Every time.

When latecomers arrive, continue with the meeting. Don’t start again. Don’t explain what they’ve missed. Don’t explain what you’re talking about now. And definitely don’t say ‘Good to see you. Thanks for sparing the time for this meeting. Grab a coffee. There’s no problem with you being late.

So that’s when other people are late.

But what about you? Do you turn up on time for meetings?

You should. As we’ve just said, it’s respectful when you do; disrespectful when you don’t.

Here are reasons you might not – and what to do about them:

‘I have back-to-back meetings in my diary’

  1. So don’t have back-to-back meetings in your diary. It’s no way to live your life. When are you supposed to do your follow-up actions? Or do your job? Or think about things? Have your lunch? Go to the toilet?
  2. Don’t put back-to-backs in your own diary. A good hint: say ‘the meeting will last a maximum of 45 minutes’, not ‘it’ll last an hour’
  3. And don’t allow others to put them in your diary:
  • if you have a PA, tell him to always leave a gap between meetings
  • if others invite you to a meeting which will mean you have back-to-backs, contact them in advance, saying you’ll have to leave after 50minutes to get to your next meeting

‘My boss is the worst culprit’

Two options. Either:

  1. say something to her 121 about the importance of being on time; or
  2. suck it up because she’s the boss. This does enable the bad behaviour; but she’s the boss!

‘I’m the boss and super-busy. So I can’t be on time for things’

  1. I guess you know what I’ll say to this one…
  2. You’re the boss. So you set the tone for your team’s behaviour. Role model best-practices and they’ll copy you
  3. If you’re always late, you enable (encourage?) them to be late too
  4. So manage your diary so you can always be on time

‘Some meetings always start late. There’s nothing I can do with those’

  1. If this really is the case – maybe lots of people travelling could cause a late start? – then these meetings could be the exception.
  2. But the vast majority of meetings aren’t like this. In fact…

…most meetings start late because people allow impossible back-to-backs to go into their diary so they could never have been on time.

And/or they don’t prioritise punctuality.

Do you?

Action point

Be on time for today’s meetings. If you’ve got back-to-backs, work out in advance what you can do to leave one early so you get to the next one on time.

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