The Key to Starting on Time

Are you frustrated by people who show up late?  Does it make you crazy when you show up on time, but others don’t, leaving you waiting?

Forget the incentives, the punishments and the gimmicks.

Lead by example instead.

There is a key principal you can use as your guide to taking action that will ensure people show up on time, as well as show up prepared and ready to engage for any meeting.

If you want people to honor your time, then make sure you honor theirs.

Here are three ways you can do that…

1.   Always plan to arrive early AND start on time.

It is a great opportunity to lead by example.  By planning to arrive early you are prepared for unexpected delays that could get in the way of your ability to start on time.  Then honor the people who are there on time by starting as promised.

2.  Design your meetings to produce a specific and meaningful outcome.

When planning your meeting start first by generating a meaningful outcome.  Then ask yourself:  would producing this outcome be worth the total investment of time required for preparation and participation from all involved?

When you can answer “yes” to this question, it’s time to design how the meeting will go – what most people call the agenda.

Keep in mind that an agenda is much more than a check list of topics to cover.  It is your chosen pathway to achieving your intended outcome.  Therefore, only include those topics or questions on the agenda that are relevant to that outcome.

Consider this…If the intended outcome is important to those you invite they are more likely to show up on time, not to mention actually want to be there and show up prepared.

3.  Design your meetings to end at least 15 minutes early (per hour of meeting time).

When you design for an outcome you may find you need to be flexible with the agenda to ensure you achieve the intended outcome.  For example, a topic may take longer than you expect, or you may identify something that needs to be covered in the course of conversation that you did not anticipate.

By including this buffer time you allow the conversation to go where it needs to in order to produce the outcome, rather than having to force your way through the agenda items just to stay on time.

If you end early you have just given people the gift of time.  I have never had anyone complain when I have ended early.  In fact, typically people are very appreciative.

Of course, you may still need more time than you planned for to achieve the intended outcome.  Yet even if you need to schedule a follow up, you will have made progress toward a worthy goal.

Step up and become known as someone who orchestrates conversations that matter and meetings that work.  If you do, the people you invite will want to be there and they are not going to want to be late.

What other simple ways can you think of to implement this principle?  Or do you think the incentives, punishments and gimmicks are a better way to go?

Have an important meeting coming up? Make it worth the investment! Contact Susan for more information about how she can support you in designing and/or facilitating an engaging, productive and satisfying experience.


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