By | Shital Kakkar Mehra | Executive Presence Coach for CEOs I Business Communication Expert I Best-selling Author I Co-Founder Katalyst, NGO
“Better never than late” As famously remarked by George Bernard Shaw.
Very often in business meetings we hear, “Gosh, the traffic was so bad!” or “Sorry, I couldn’t complete it on time …” From a business deliverable to golf tee-offs, we are frequently running late. The big challenge for today’s executive is to produce goods and services as per the deadline and “I haven’t yet completed…” just won’t fly! No matter how talented you are, if you are late, you show lack of respect for other people’s time, besides your own. Additionally, you lose business.
Although culture plays a very significant role in how people perceive time, countries where punctuality is non-negotiable (e.g. USA / Canada/ Japan/ Western Europe) are successful. Interestingly, these same countries learnt punctuality during the Industrial Revolution, not so long ago. A few suggestions:
- Commitment: Many times, tardiness is plain lack of commitment and discipline.
- Planning: Ensures you aren’t running at break-neck speed in the nth hour, setting you apart from your colleagues and competitors.
- Buffer time: Whether it is project deadline or dialing for a conference call or leaving your desk for a meeting, work out time required by factoring in a reasonable buffer to take care of all last minute delays.
- Regularly review your ‘to-do’ lists and prioritize: This helps in ensuring important agendas don’t fall off.
- Use technology: Planners, cell phones and digital clocks are excellent for alerting you about time deadlines.
- Keep adequate back-up: It can be an extra shirt or an extra copy of that important presentation; it pays to think things thorough and also keeps stress levels low.
Punctuality is a sign of responsibility and discipline. It is an essential component of professionalism and is a habit that can be developed.Shakespeare’s “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late” sounds extreme but clearly shows that punctuality was a virtue even in that era!