From the archive: Being on time: A personal rant

Being on time is important.
Being on time is important.

I am out of the office today, but I wanted to repost this based on a discussion that I had the other day. My conversation partner agreed with my on my philosophy of timeliness. 
I have always been a stickler about time, at least my time. I don’t know if it was because I was the son of a sergeant or the fact that in HR I had to deal with tardy employees. Whatever the reason I think it is important to be on time almost all the time. I am not the only person to think so.

The easy stuff

The website The Art of Manliness (yes, I still feel as if I have something to learn) tells of the time concern of George Washington. One quote that most HR professionals can identify with says “..when Washington’s secretary arrived late to a meeting, and blamed his watch for his tardiness, Washington quietly replied, ‘Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary.’” Famous Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, in his book, Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership said “I figured this was the easy stuff, and if we couldn’t show up on time, looking right and acting right, we weren’t going to be able to do anything else.”

Sign of respect

When I was a practicing recruiting manager I would schedule my day to see as many people as necessary. It was impractical to push my schedule to accommodate someone who was late to the scheduled interview time. I made it a practice to be on time for them. I felt that they thought their time was more important than mine. I still think that today.
We all only have a limited amount of time each day. For me to waste that valuable resource, either mine or someone else’s is a sign of disrespect. It says to me “I am more important than you.” I don’t like it in contacts, I don’t like it in speakers, I don’t like it in entertainers.
Naturally there are instances where being late is unavoidable. I have no control over someone else causing a wreck that ties up traffic. However, today we all carry phones and can call to let someone know that we are going to be late. Where I live construction traffic makes a regular mess of getting around. Even when I allow extra time to get some place it is not always assured, but I don’t leave my party hanging. Be courteous and allow them the opportunity to do something with the time you have scheduled but are unable to make.
I used to work with a guy that was always bad with his time. He just did not pay attention. He did think he was more important. He would leave the office at the time he was supposed to be somewhere and he asked his assistant to call the person and tell them he was caught in traffic. He never called, that would have made him a liar. So he had the assistant lie for him. I always felt bad for her.
Well that is my rant. I don’t like to be late, and yes I understand the social norm of “fashionably late” but in my opinion it does not work in business. Perhaps you have a different take. Many people do. Tell me what you prefer.

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