Lateness… Is it really that important?

A while back I happened to catch a small snippet of an Oprah show where she was talking about lateness. Essentially the message was-

You being late tells the other person that you value your time more than theirs.

Before arguments erupt, I realize that occasionally being late is out of your control, but think about some of the times you were late. Were you putting that last load of laundry in the dryer? Spending a little extra time getting ready (or didn’t get up early enough…)

The reason I’m talking about this topic is because of two interesting stories friends shared with me this week. I realized the lateness epidemic is getting worse and crossing from personal to work.

Brief Story #1 – The Continual Late Guy
An employee shows up late to work every day, including their first day! At first there were excuses (kids, late night, car won’t start… dog ate my homework… just kidding!) But then the excuses stopped, but the tardiness continued to the point where now the individual rolls in between a half hour and an hour late each day.

The point of this story?
Simple, my friend is considering letting them go because of their inability to show up to work. They are a great worker when they’re at work but can’t be relied upon. With only two months under their belt they have also tarnished their reputation at this organization. If they do turn their habits around consider what will happen if they slip once or twice…the reputation they built from the early days will always be remembered and may hold them back.

Brief Story #2 – The Interview Destroyer
My friend sets up a phone interview with a candidate. When the scheduled time arrives, my friend calls and has a favorable first impression, the candidate is bubbly and cheerful (the position is in customer service).  However, the interview immediately turns south when the candidate informs my friend that she is out to lunch and her cell phone is going to die soon, could she call back?

The point of this story?
My friend is in disbelief and irritated for wasting her time and the candidate loses a chance of landing an in-person interview. Who ignores a scheduled interview time to continue on with their personal life? It’s 15-30 minutes that they can’t be on time for.

In both cases it is evident that the employee and the potential candidate consider their time more valuable than others. Consider what other messages they are sending – disorganized, selfish, rude…

Timeliness is an art and one that can be easily conquered with a little organization and preparedness. You may laugh about the above stories but think about times you’ve been late and what message you may have portrayed to others.