In many organizations lack of punctuality at the beginning and end of meetings is so common that it has become the norm. Some participants arrive at the scheduled time… and then have to wait for those who are late. The latecomers may not realize that they are really needed at the meeting. Or perhaps they think that the other things they have to do are more important. Meanwhile, time is wasted, the energy in the room dissipates and the opportunity cost of convening the group rises with every minute that goes by.

The leader is responsible for clarifying the starting and ending time of each meeting – and then respecting that commitment.

Example of a poor message regarding punctuality at meetings: At the announced starting time, you, the leader, have not arrived.

Example of a clear message regarding punctuality at meetings: Stand at the meeting room door, greeting each participant as they arrive. At the scheduled time, close the door and start the meeting.

Benefits of correcting this mistake:

  • Builds a culture of respect for others’ time
  • Improves efficiency and effectiveness of meetings
  • Allows participants to schedule activities after the meeting with greater certainty

In practice: If in your organization or team, lack of punctuality is the norm, you will need to send a clear message that the rules have changed –and repeat it as often a necessary until the change takes root.

Facilitation tip: Prepare the room in advance. Make sure all the needed materials (printed matter, flipchart or whiteboard, projector, screen, markers, etc.) are on hand before the participants arrive.

Your team has other things to do besides attending your meetings.                   Respect their time!

This is the third of five messages about common mistakes that that make meetings boring and unproductive. You can see the complete list in our new, free guide: Excellent Meetings at Work.