Perpetually Late? Have you calculated the cost?

by Kelly Totten on July 9, 2017

Repost from February 2010:

Recently I’ve been asked to attend a daily 15 minute project status meeting. So far, each day at least one person has kept the group waiting 5 minutes. That’s 1/3 of this meeting, but I digress.

At first glance, you think “It’s only 5 minutes, what’s the big deal?” Well I have a couple of issues with tardiness to meetings. First, where I come from, punctuality is a sign of respect. I know sometimes there are traffic or other issues and I am certainly not 100% perfect. Occasional lateness is understandable and 5 minutes late for a one time meeting is not that big of a deal (but do apologize!). However, when it’s a phone meeting that is every day of the week, being late every day is unacceptable in my book. It’s disrespectful to those who are waiting for the tardy attendee to show up.

Now let’s move on to how much money this costs. In the case of the project meeting I’m attending, at least 2 people are waiting every day for others to show. 2 people, 5 minutes a day, 20 days in a month. That’s 3.33 hours of WAITING. Is that in the project budget? I doubt it. Assuming a minimum bill rate of $100 per hour, that’s $333 per month because one person hits their snooze button every day. What a waste.

Maybe $333 doesn’t seem like that much to you. Great! Send it to me… Kelly Totten, 38953 Proctor Blvd #302, Sandy, OR 97055. In my world, that’s 2 weeks of groceries or a payment on a small car you’re throwing away.

If you have people on your team who are perpetually late to meetings, I encourage you to calculate the cost of waiting. Let that person know how much they’re costing in monetary terms and perhaps the emotional toll as well. I would probably be so bold as to say: “the cost of tardiness will be directly reflected in your next raise or bonus because the company isn’t going to take it on the chin”. What can I say, I guess I’m a hard ass.

If you’re the boss and you’re walking into every meeting late, shame on you. The cost for you to be late is much greater than anyone else. Disrespecting your employees and promoting a culture of “it’s okay to waste the time of others” is not a formula for success. It’s just like parenting; you must set a good example.


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