Question: When is punctuality important for business or at work?
The importance of being on time is taught to us from a very young age. It should be no surprise, then, that lessons in punctuality stay relevant throughout our lives and work.
Punctuality informs many aspects of Executive Presence. Being on time helps you to establish a good reputation and allows others to trust you. When you are punctual, your professional image appears polished and organized, rather than hurried and haphazard. Above all, it’s simply the professional standard to be consistently punctual. Yet many people still fail to meet this standard.
Here are a few examples of professional contexts where punctuality is key – and why being on time can be a deal breaker. If you are someone who is chronically late, let these examples inspire you to become an early bird!
First Impressions: Interviews & Initial Meetings
It should go without saying, but it is never acceptable to be late to an interview. This is such a common standard that some employers will refuse to interview a candidate if he or she is even one or two minutes late.
Other than interviews, there are many contexts where first impressions and punctuality go hand in hand. For example, consider the early stages of a partnership or a deal. If the person with whom you are negotiating walks into a meeting 10 minutes late, would you trust them to stay organized and present throughout your relationship? The answer is likely no. In this case, something as harmless as a bad habit can ruin a business relationship before it even begins.
Meeting Deadlines and Completing Work on Time
When you consistently complete documents, finish projects, or produce any other kind of output on time, it reflects positively on your work ethic and your quality of work. Not only will colleagues notice your personal standards, but they will also acknowledge your commitment to your company and its success.
By contributing your own work on time, your actions show that you want your company to stay on track and meet its goals. Others in your organization will take note – and such clear demonstration of dedication to a company is a solid foundation for advancing within that organization.
Arriving on Time to Internal Meetings
For regular internal meetings, some employees may deprioritize their importance and take a casual approach – which often entails showing up late. Even though regular meetings may not often be as critical as an initial meeting or a deal, do not assume that they are not “important.”
Close colleagues may understand if you are occasionally late due to bad traffic or a long appointment. However, avoid making a habit out of tardiness to internal meetings. After a while, those in your company will begin to notice your style and it will begin to hinder how they perceive you. More importantly, this could affect how you do – or do not – advance within your company.
Workplace Productivity and Team Morale
Punctuality in the workplace is directly related to team morale. When people show up chronically late, the flow of work is disrupted with other team members having to cover up for delayed co-workers.
Tension and resentment can rise within a team, with punctual members feeling a lack of respect, and getting agitated each time they need to cover for a colleague and take over additional responsibilities. Modern workspaces thrive on teamwork and interdependency, so if this becomes a pattern, it can dampen team morale and reduce the overall productivity of a team.
Reflect Your Company’s Reputation
In today’s cut-throat competitive market, companies that don’t consistently deliver on time, fall out of favour. No matter what role you play, being committed to punctuality showcases your commitment to your client — a sign of someone who demonstrates the desire to do the job well, and is well-prepared.
Every employee is a reflection of the organization. When someone is chronically late, it reflects on the firm or the business. This can cause customers to lose confidence. An unfavourable vibe about your company may also start floating in the community, leading to fewer referrals and less business.
Be Perceived as a Future Leader
Punctuality in the workplace and in business reflects professionalism. Your reputation and the way you are perceived is an important asset to getting ahead. When team leaders regard you as punctual, and someone they can rely on, they are more likely to include you in new and important projects, as no one wants to work with someone who is likely to miss a critical deadline.
Simply being on time puts you in a position to be seen as more competent, loyal and dedicated to your work and the firm. These qualities come in very handy to be perceived as a future leader, especially when management is looking to promote.
How to Encourage Punctuality in Business and in the Workplace
So, how can you inspire employees to be on time and promote punctuality in the workplace?
As a business leader, the most important thing you can do, is to lead by example.
Model the desired behaviour you expect, by arriving to work on time, and starting meetings and trainings on the dot. For staff who always seem to be late, warnings and potential suspensions rarely work and don’t always change behaviour.
Instead, reward punctual team members with an extra bonus or some added time off, giving tardy employees a genuine incentive to be on time.
Above are a few examples of the many contexts in which punctuality in the workplace and in business is key to building leadership presence, and the progression of your career or company. After all, there is much truth to the saying, “the early bird catches the worm!”