Punctuality. How Does Your Business Measure Up?

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Written by: Deborah Wade

Company culture and public image is a direct reflection of company priorities. I was reminded of this when, a number of years ago, I interviewed with a company that I felt would be a very good fit for me and who would benefit from my set of skills. I arrived 5 minutes early, my interview began 47 minutes after the scheduled time, the interviewers were woefully unprepared and running in and out of the interview to find missing interview question forms and job descriptions and offering no apology or explanation for their extreme tardiness.  A few days later, I received a phone call from this company offering me the job and against my better judgement I accepted the position. I chose to ignore the obvious warning signs that this company’s priorities might not reflect the reality of its daily operations behind closed doors. Not surprisingly, I was correct and my time with that company barely made it to the two-year mark before I had to leave to preserve my health. 

Years later when I reflect on this job interview, I realize that I wasn’t near as bothered by the missing interview questions, job description forms and general chaos of my interview. What I remember was the total lack of respect for the time and effort I had put into applying to this company and coming to the interview as scheduled. As I would later find out, this lack of respect for employee’s time and effort permeated the entire company as a matter of course.

NFL Hall of Famer Wes Fesler once said that “It is difficult to prove yourself reliable when people are required to wait for you.”

While punctuality can seem like a small thing in the larger course of business, the lack of it says a great deal about the business and employees. Businesses spend a great deal of money trying to set themselves apart from competition through innovation, services provided, and top-notch customer service. Consistent punctuality in your business relations reassures customers that you are reliable, value their time, and can be trusted with their business needs. A lack of punctuality suggests a lack of organization, lack of motivation, and no respect for the customers time and/or money. An unpunctual person may be viewed as rude, thoughtless and or even unqualified to manage a customer’s business requirements.

The very occasional tardiness is be expected but with it should include immediate and clear communication with the affected parties to minimize the inconvenience to them and to keep everyone updated as to the affected appointment or schedule. More importantly, the tardy business or employee should make all necessary corrections in their scheduling and work to ensure that they do not inconvenience their customers again through their lack of punctuality. 

It is okay and appreciated to express regret or an apology to someone for being late and making them wait on you. But as Mokokoma Mokhonoana once said, “You cannot respect someone but disrespect their time.”

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