Start your meetings promptly. No matter who is there, or not there, start your meetings at the time when you said you would. It is a powerful gesture of respect to those who choose to respect your time. When you start late, what you are really saying to the people who respected your time is “thanks for respecting me, but guess what, I don’t respect you.” Even worse, you are teaching others that your time has no value and is meaningless.
Now before you all turn on me :), I understand that this can be a huge challenge if you happen to work in an organization where punctuality is not a virtue. Nevertheless, persist! For the very reason I just gave you! I believe that as leaders, we teach others how to treat us, and sometimes, we have to re-teach them. If you work in an organization where you have inadvertently taught people that it’s acceptable not to respect your time, then recognize that you may need to re-teach them. Here’s the thing: if you get a reputation as someone who starts your meetings on time, then you will teach people to respect you. People will “learn” to be on time.
Having said that, despite your actions, there will always be, for some reason or another, latecomers. When a latecomer finally arrives, don’t disrupt the meeting to review what’s happened prior to their arrival, just continue onwards. If you stop to catch the person up on what he or she has missed, you will undo your hard work in re-teaching others.
So some people say that I’m playing hard ball. Do you think I’m being too tough?