Do you waste other people’s time?

When I went into my first commercial job at the age of 22, the company I was working for had also hired a new marketing executive. It wasn’t a big company. It had somewhat informal processes. And the first thing the new marketing executive commented on was that every single meeting started late.

Very few people have any slack in their schedules and the vast majority of people cannot avoid meetings either and meetings culture tends to have a huge knock on effect on how productive people are. Sometimes, I think people need to take a step back and ask whether their meetings etiquette has an impact on other people’s productivity. If I am trying to plan around a 30 minute meeting, does it matter if some one shows up late to that meeting?

Well yes. Very often, the meeting might not start until they arrive, if they are critical. And it may run over time as a result. If you are the person arriving late, you are wasting the time of the people waiting for you, and if as a result, your meeting runs overtime, it may have a serious knock on effect on your own schedule as you turn up later and later for meetings which run late. And this has a knock on effect on everyone else.

Think about it. You turn up late to a meeting. You waste collectively an hour of six people’s time. You have a knock on impact on the schedule of 6 other people who, if you’re lucky, aren’t actually trying to get to another meeting, but who may wind up back at their desk later than planned which may mess up some of their time planning for the day which will have a net negative impact on their productivity. It may cut the amount of time they have free to complete some task before another meeting in their schedule, or the amount of time free to do something you want from them. Meanwhile, you wander off to another meeting and do something similar to another 6 people. You personally could be responsible – by showing up late for your meetings – huge amounts of lost working time and thus lost productivity for your employer. While still being amazingly busy.

Your schedule is not yours alone. Because of the lack of slack in most modern companies, trying to do more with fewer people, your schedule is shared. If you mess up your schedule, you’re probably messing up the schedule of a lot of people around you as well.

Don’t be surprised if this has a knock on impact on their productivity.