Guide employees to be punctual

September 7, 2012 at 9:00 am 1 comment

A few minutes here and a few minutes there. Add it all up and you will see how much time—and money—employees waste because they are late. In a recent issue of the Bud to Boss Take 5 e-letter, Catherine Ahern explained how to make punctuality the norm rather than the exception in your workplace. Here’s her advice:

Problem: Multiple members of your staff are often late. Some show up late for work. Others wander into the room after a meeting starts. A few take extended lunch breaks. You worry that this might lead to an unconscientious work environment where people are just as lackadaisical about their deadlines.

Solution: It’s important that your team be reliable. Emphasize that you value punctuality and dependability. Always set an example through your own actions. Respond to tardiness in each of these situations:

  • When employees arrive late to work. Explain that while chronic tardiness is unacceptable, you understand that “life happens” and employees occasionally will be late to work due to childcare emergencies, car problems and unforeseen things like that. Clarify your expectations about what employees should do when those things happen. Should they call, text or email you? Do they need to alert you that they are running 10 minutes late or only when they will be much later? Note: Make sure that your expectations are in line with your organization’s employee handbook. If an employee has a habit of coming in late, speak with him or her individually. Tell the person that you have noticed the pattern and ask why it’s happening. If the employee’s response indicates a motivation problem, explain the consequences for continued tardiness and enforce those consequences. If the response indicates that there’s an outside issue that’s forcing him or her to be late (i.e. a public transportation schedule that is not in line with the work schedule), ask the employee what ideas he or she has for solving the problem. Coach the employee to work out an effective plan.
  • When employees show up late for a meeting. Close the door and start meetings on time, even if a few attendees haven’t shown up. People will quickly realize that they are interrupting, and most will adjust their behavior. Don’t stop to rehash material that has already been discussed when latecomers arrive. Assign a task to the last person to arrive, such as taking meeting notes. If an employee continues to be late for meetings, pull the person aside and explain your expectations. Document future instances of the person’s tardiness to meetings, and address this problem as you would any other performance issue, in private meetings and with progressive discipline. Tip: When possible, schedule meetings to begin on the half hour. One study indicated that meetings are more likely to start on time if scheduled at half-past the hour than on the hour.
  • When employees take extended lunch breaks. Again, a habit of long, long breaks is a much bigger problem than one or two isolated instances. If you see an employee regularly abuse break privileges, confront him or her about it. Say “I noticed that your lunch break was 90 minutes today rather than an hour, and I’ve noticed similarly long lunch breaks a couple of times in the past week. We can’t have you taking extra long breaks, because that puts an unfair onus on team members, who have to cover you while you are out. Please make sure to be more punctual in the future. I will document unapproved extended lunch breaks in the future, which will affect your upcoming performance review.” Then, follow through.
  • When employees miss a deadline. Check in on employees’ progress on projects so you aren’t blindsided. If a project appears to be behind schedule, guide the employee to finish it on time by asking “What do we need to do to ensure that we meet our agreed-upon deadline?” or “What steps will you take to ensure that you meet the deadline? And what obstacles could get in your way?” The employee might need you to reprioritize his or her other work. The first time an employee still misses a deadline, consider it a teachable moment. Ask the person what he or she could have done differently and how the experience will affect his or her future choices.
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Entry filed under: Company Culture, Leadership, Management. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Isidro Harnack  |  February 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just excellent and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

    Reply

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