I've worded that heading poorly but carefully, as I have two points to make here. I am a remarkably punctual person. I've been late on about three deliverables in 25 years. Usually I deliver early. I get to every meeting on time -- every meeting. I view it as disrespect to keep others waiting or having them keep me waiting.
When you are chronically late, you create a perception that you are lazy and arrogant. It might be unfair, but it's true. When you are chronically late, you make other people late. I have no data to prove this, but I would also imagine that the chronically late are far more likely to be the first out the door in a layoff. An expression of disrespect, remember?
To me, 1 p.m. means 1 p.m. (Well, actually, 1 p.m. means 12:55 p.m. to me, but that's an expression of my pathos.) I have accepted lateness from my former bosses and those above me in an organization. I resent it in others. But again, that's simply an admission of pathos because most people don't think like I do.
I bring this up because the flip side of this, as I must constantly remind myself, is that the importance of being late isn't on par with manslaughter. People can miss deadlines because we miscalculated the time it would take to finish a task or because they were asked to do something else that was more important.
If you are going to be late for a meeting or delivering a piece of work, let people know. Tell them in advance, as early as you can manage. Notice is an expression of respect, and it allows others to make adjustments to ensure that things can continue to operate smoothly.
Jim Nichols is vice president of marketing at Mediaplex.
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