Call me old-fashioned and potentially too rigid and disciplined for my own good but I am still a firm believer in some of the “old fashioned” concepts that used to be very important for businesses. One of those is “timekeeping” and the practice of running a business where staff adheres to strict timekeeping practices, especially where meetings are concerned.
Don’t be ridiculous
Now I’m not talking about being ridiculous and running the business like a correctional facility, but I am talking about having rules in the business which are known, agreed upon and get adhered to. For me the simple practice of having some rigidity around timekeeping principles in the company is about a lot more than the simple practice of turning up to meetings on time or calling people when you say you will and arriving to work when you should. For me the practice of good timekeeping in a businesses shows me that the business is well run and functional, it’s people are accountable, they are disciplined, well organised and respectful. Most of all it says to me that a company has good strategies and goals in place which include internal discipline, how staff treat each other and what things are important to senior management.
Many organisations, even many of the large multinationals, have become a lot more relaxed in many areas of their business initially to address the many “Generation Y’ers” coming through their business. Dress codes have been loosened and starting times and finishing times have become very accommodative to take into account individuals needs and desires. But for me there is one area which I don’t believe should be messed with and that is the principle of disciplined timekeeping. I agree with being accommodative to some degree with start and finish times (as long as these are known and documented), and remote working on many days is commonplace so let’s assume I’m not talking about that. What I am talking about is when you are at work and have committed to being somewhere or doing something, there should be no flexibility with timekeeping.
This should be fairly simple to achieve yet how many meetings have we all been to where a number of people waltz into the meeting room ten or fifteen minutes late with little or no apology. Or how many times have you had a business visitor come to meet with you only to arrive 20 minutes late without letting you know prior that they would be late. Not to mention when someone says they will phone you at exactly 2pm and they call 25 minutes late. To me this shows an utter lack of respect and appreciation of someone else’s time. It tells me that you are un-organised, un-disciplined, you are disrespectful, you are not thorough and you are average at your job. And, the organisation where this occurs is openly and actively condoning this level of commitment.
Pick up the phone
To me it is difficult to conceive how a business can thrive, take market share and outgrow the competition when the staff have limited respect for each other, their suppliers and their customers. To me there is nothing wrong with being late to a meeting every now and then but this should not be the norm. And when arriving late staff should either let the person know beforehand that they are running late or they should make sure they make good eye contact and make a sincere apology when arriving. How hard is it to call when you know you will be even 5 minutes late for a meeting?
Timekeeping, a key pillar
If you are happy running an average company or department or getting average sales results then, keeping grey timekeeping habits are fine. However getting good to great results takes collaboration, organisation, accountability, motivation, dedication, discipline and respect to name a few. I don’t know how it is possible to achieve all of these yet be “l’aise faire” with timekeeping. Timekeeping (otherwise framed as respect and accountability) should be seen as one of the pillars from which all other discipline within an organisation stems. Without strict timekeeping practices how can you enforce anything else?