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Work Smarter #39: Dealing with Lateness
March 15, 2011
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Hi, Kell here!
Reasons for lateness
There are a variety of reasons why people are late.
DisorganizationThe first reason may be disorganization. You, or the person who's late, may not be an effective time manager and may lose track of time. He or she may also not be calculating the time it takes to travel from "Point A" to "Point B."
Disorganization can also result from taking on too many commitments or scheduling group events too close in time to each other. Having a poor time management schedule might be done on accident, but it also may be done intentionally so that an adrenaline rush can be felt as the deadline nears.
Power tripAnother person might be late because they enjoy the power trip they get from making others wait.
This is especially common in business settings where meetings usually cannot start until everyone is present. These "power plays" seem to give a boost to the person's ego.
Avoidance or stressedOne serious reason for lateness, and cause for concern, is anxiety or avoidance.
You or another person may be showing up late to avoid bullying from another group member, fear of underperformance at the meeting, or some other reason.
Other reasons for chronic lateness include poor social skills, that is, someone may not understand how lateness affects group work. Or, chronic lateness may also be caused by medical reasons.
Stop lateness immediately
There are definite ways to deal with late people effectively without putting them down or making the person feel bad. If you're late because you're disorganized, have taken on too many commitments and don't know how to say "no," or are a chronic procrastinator, you need to make behavioral changes.
If you're late for other reasons, one important thing to do is to take a step back and realize how you're lateness is affecting other people. One way you can realize this is by asking your other group members. Though you may not like the answer you get, the understanding and breakthrough you'll get by talking about it with others can help you see why chronic lateness is a negative issue.
What managers can doManagers and group leaders also need to understand how to deal effectively with chronically late individuals.
Perhaps the best thing for a manager to do is to acknowledge the good work that the late person accomplishes, but then remind him how lateness affects the entire group and offer advice on what he can do to arrive on time, every time.
If you are a manager please share with us how you deal with lateness.
Though lateness is a serious problem that is inconsiderate to others' feelings, work ethic and overall personal time, there are ways to improve this time management issue so that it doesn't wreak the success of the entire group any longer.
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