Sooner Or Later- The Thrill of being late

800 371 Kamal Karanth

It was 9:30 AM in Sydney and no sight of one of my colleagues in a global meeting. My boss was obviously distracted as many of his global senior colleagues were present in this crucial summit. He called my colleague to find that he was still sleeping. My colleague eventually came late at 10 AM. I am sure both their mornings (boss and my peer) were unproductive thinking about the face loss; all of us had landed the previous day to ensure we were there from the start at 9 AM and still…

Nobody intends to come late to meetings especially when you have travelled long distances for off-sites. But still, we see people coming late stressing their reporting bosses and maybe embarrassing even their own reportees. Once when I confronted one of my serial late arriver on why I should be embarrassed in front of a large section of my colleagues frequently, he said, boss’ you think I really wanted to come late, late ho gaya’ sorry.’ I could only feel sorry for myself than appreciating his candour. Grrr!

I and my Boss

When I was a ‘first-time’ manager I just did not know how to manage latecomers. My reaction was not to talk to them or look at them in the meeting until lunch time. I used to feel that I was punishing them by doing so. But maybe they were thinking, he is a weak guy and can’t say it on the face. Pyar se koi samajhta hi nahi, Gentle reactions are never appreciated?

One of my bosses did a unique thing to us in the morning. After the cut off time for the meeting to start was over, he locked the door from inside leaving two people outside who I presume were still having breakfast or a shower. Ten minutes later we heard some heavy knocking and pushing of the door, our colleagues felt the door was jammed and were pushing it violently. The hotel staff stepped in and educated them that they were instructed to be locked out. Fifteen minutes later our colleagues were let in. We got our message in a rather intimidating way but nevertheless those colleagues never ever came late after that.

The boss had sent the message to us in a forceful way without giving us gyan on late comings.

Time Zone Blues

My own ‘late arrival” makes for interesting reflections. Once I had landed in Singapore the previous night and gone to bed in time to attend a 9 AM meeting the next day with my global colleagues. Guess what, I woke up at 855 AM. My alarm was set to India time 630, I had not changed the time zone after landing in Singapore. I was lucky that my boss had not put his mobile into silent mode yet. So, I called him and told him that I would be down by 930. I was there in the meeting by 925. All my colleagues gave me a rousing welcome by applauding my late entry.

It took half a day for me to recover from the Faux pas. It looked so foolish to say that I had not set two reminders or asked the hotel to give me wake up calls when I was to attend such a crucial meeting.

Offsites and Travel Excuses

When we are travelling out of our home territory, there are so many situations out of control, late night sittings with colleagues, excessive drinking, talking, singing & dancing as the social gathering stimulates us to be part of the setting. It looks very uncouth to walkway saying I have to hit the bed early and there will be colleagues who will chide you as the baby who sleeps early. We also meet many of our colleagues once in a while and it is important to connect to ease up the nerves and to listen to some gossip. Evenings, late nights, serene settings are very seductive to these catch ups and time takes a beating. But then there are people who do the late sittings and also be there on time.

The purpose of being in those places, after all, is to attend those meetings than just to socialise. It’s important to remember that we not only represent us as the person but also the role we are in.

I dread calling for off-sites as day two is invariably started by talking about time management and the first break is spent accepting apologies from sleepy-eyed colleagues.

Dedicated to my colleagues who contribute to my High Blood pressure during Offsite meetings by coming late 🙂

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