29 September 2010

Working Smart: The Importance of Being on Time

By Elizabeth Hanink

Time — as my father-in-law (and Benjamin Franklin) used to say — is money. The follow up, of course, is that we have no right to anyone else’s money; so quit wasting your employer’s by being late. You may think that’s an unnecessary reminder, but, interestingly enough, not all employees recognize when they are late.

Take, for instance, the employee that punches in on time but then ever so comfortably settles in. First comes the stashing of personal items. Then comes the requisite cup of coffee, a quick bathroom break, and don’t forget the greetings that are necessary all around. By the time real work starts, a good 10 to 15 minutes are gone. There are no specific statistics, but do the math. Multiply by five days a week, times several, even tens, of employees, and you are talking a hefty hunk of change.

Then there are the folks who are late in the ordinary fashion: late for arrival, late for meetings and on it goes. The strange thing is that the events that cause people to be tardy are sooo predictable: lost keys, heavy traffic, dawdling kids. In short, people are usually late for preventable reasons. If they were organized, disciplined and competent, what difference would misplaced keys make? A second set would be nearby. Basing the time you need to get to work on the best of all possible worlds is foolhardy.

Vince Lombardi has my vote on punctuality: “If you are 15 minutes early, you’re late.” If you want someone with more authority than a football coach, how about Louis XVIII’s line: “Punctuality is the privilege of kings.”

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