Have a chronically late colleague? What to do about it

Most people would feel comfortable confronting a family member about lateness, but what if the latecomer is your colleague? Or, worse, your boss?

Two 2014 studies found that 37 percent of meetings start late, typically by an average of 15 minutes, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. These meetings that begin late often end 15 minutes late as well. Tardiness can cause employees to lose work time, put them in a bad mood and even stifle their creativity. Chronic lateness also generates a domino effect: One meeting that runs late delays the next, derailing multiple other employees' calendars.

While tardiness is often attributed to meetings running long, it can often be credited to one person. Studies have found that managers often wait for latecomers to arrive before beginning a meeting. Employees who walk into a meeting and see nothing is happening often leave for a bathroom break, furthering the culture of tardiness.

According to The Wall Street Journal writer Sue Shellenbarger, 90 percent of employees who are chronically late don't realize the effect their tardiness has on others. Because of this, Ms. Shellenbarger suggests confronting latecomers through a variety of techniques.

  • If tardiness makes employees feel empowered, tell them that they are hurting their image and reputation.
  • If overbooking on online calendars is causing tardiness, change the meeting start times to allow for a 15-minute break between each meeting.
  • If a colleague exhibits poor time management skills, begin and end meetings on time and do not brief him or her on what he or she missed to encourage timeliness in the future.
  • If an employee loves the drama that late entrances create, tell him or her that others are bored by his or her behavior.
  • If a boss doesn't realize his or her lateness is affecting others, reach out to human resources or a trusted coach and ask for their assistance in delivering feedback.

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