A Minute Late

I remember one particular work meeting I attended many many years ago, near the beginning of my career. It was extremely early in the morning, and my boss at the time had a well-known habit of locking the door to the meeting room at the exact minute the meeting began. He was a stickler for punctuality, that one. Interestingly, one time a co-worker arrived nearly half a day late, without having called or anything, and the boss just helped him get caught up and didn’t say anything else about it. Privately, I asked him about it later.

He told me: “An hour late, and there’s a story. A minute late is just disrespectful.”

I don’t manage like he did, but there are definitely some elements of wisdom in that story.

First, I think it’s good if early in your career you have someone who pushes you on the fundamentals – punctuality, personal presentation, etiquette, etc. There are times when it’s appropriate to be more lenient on those things, but before you flaunt those rules you have to know them.

Next, I think it’s true that easily-correctable mistakes are, when the consequence thereof falls upon another’s shoulders, the most disrespectful. If you’re an hour late because you were in a car accident on the way to work, that’s understandable – and likely rare. If you’re a minute late, it feels more likely to be because you simply didn’t manage your time well (and also likely to be more common).

And of course lastly is the vital piece of wisdom that when someone else has the keys to the meeting room door, they’re the ones calling the shots. If you don’t like it, find another meeting room – one where you have the keys.

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