Does it make you nuts when someone is late for work? Are you annoyed when one of your staff wanders in 15 or 20 minutes late?
I’ve coached several managers who’ve had an issue with this. It sets them off that this one person can’t get in at the official hour.
If this stresses you out, I’d like to challenge your perceptions.
How critical is their start time?
The idea of a firm start time is only essential if there’s a task that has to be done at a specific moment.
If your staff member is responsible for unlocking the door, answering the phone or some other vital role that makes it clear your business is open and running – then they have be on time.
Equally, if there is a 9am meeting or their morning input is essential for other people to do their jobs, they also have to be on time.
Realistically though, most jobs aren’t that time sensitive. So, what’s the problem?
The rational I hear from managers is:
It sets a bad example
They aren’t working as hard as the others
They will rush their work and not have the quality expected
It is taking advantage of me as their boss
Are these things true?
1. Setting a bad example
One person who comes in late will not change everyone else’s way of working. It isn’t contagious.
If you enjoy getting in early, you are not going to be influenced by someone else. I’ve worked with many chronically late starters and it never turned into a team epidemic. We have our own ideas about what we consider professional behaviour. We also have our own ideas about how to get our day started. These aren’t easily changed by someone else’s habits.
2. They aren’t working as hard as others
Start times are a holdover from our manufacturing days, when we had a designated period to keep production moving.
In today’s jobs the focus is on productivity. You can sit at your desk for hours without accomplishing a thing.
As managers we want to know that the project is progressing, the client feels cared for, the timelines are created and the budgets are approved. We want new ideas, creative approaches, great relationships internally and externally – in other words we want results. Those aren’t directly linked to hours worked.
Many of us would like to be recognised for the result we accomplished. Whether we put in overtime to get there or found a shortcut to do it quickly, it’s about the result. If things went well, that’s what we would like to have acknowledged.
3. More hours means better quality work
If you want someone to improve, look at the projects you’re giving them and the standards you are defining.
To be a motivating manager, spend a little time looking for opportunities that will challenge this person. Find out what they’d like to learn and what would stretch them. If you give them assignments just outside their comfort zone, it helps them master their job and build their confidence; in return they’ll give it their best.
Equally, if you are concerned about the quality of their work, demanding that they arrive 20 minutes earlier is unlikely to shift that.
They need feedback or training from you. Take the time to show them where they are not hitting the mark and how they could do things differently.
If you’d like their presentations to look more creative or their ideas to be more detailed, ask for that. Give them guidance about your standards and your expectations for the work they produce.
This is more likely to get the result you want than watching their timekeeping.
4. They are taking advantage of you
Are you equating respect for you, with the time they come to work?
There are a number of progressive companies that allow flexible working and they’ve seen no damage to the respect for management. People can work from home or set their own hours and still respect you for your knowledge, guidance and inspiration.
It’s not about face time in the office but about engaging your staff person at a level that helps them do their best.
This builds loyalty and respect for you.
We won’t remember a previous boss that complimented us for being on time every day. We will remember the boss that helped us to progress, fed our imagination, believed in us and encouraged us.
Two years from now how do you want them to talk about you?
The things you are doing today as a manager will determine how this person remembers you. When they look back on the time they worked for you, what do you want them to say, how do you want to be remembered?
My guess is you have bigger things to chase as a manager. Use the head space and energy you spent watching the clock to do something much more impressive to influence your staff.
So true! A little bit of flexibility goes a long way – it demonstrated trust and respect. I’m an early starter, so like to leave on time. Others prefer slower mornings and longer evenings. We all still do good work!
Thanks Pippa, I agree, it’s a great way for managers to build trust. Thanks for writing.