Do your meetings start on time?


When did it become OK to be late?

I recently read an article that covered the subject of business jargon and how annoying it is.  I missed it when it was published last May but it showed up in my feed last night.  In general I don’t rant on topics like jargon because, well, let’s admit it – I’m a synergistic jargon master who is constantly drilling in on new ways to get underneath the problem and then pivot, thereby moving the needle by not boiling the ocean, but rather by getting my ducks in a row.

The one thing I did take umbrage with in Forbes’ article though was the use of the phrase “hard stop”. They characterized the use of the term as being snarky and self aggrandizing – specifically saying:

An executive with a “hard stop” at 3 p.m. is serious about stopping at 3 p.m. Very serious. And very important. Or at least that’s how it comes off, says Patricia Kilgore, president of Sterling Kilgore, a Chicago area public relations and marketing firm. “To me it sounds like ‘This meeting isn’t really that important, so I need a way to get out of it,’” Kilgore says. A heart attack is a hard stop, Kilgore adds; anything else is just a conflict.

Really, “…anything else is just a conflict?”  No friend.  It is not a conflict unless the organizer of the meeting you’re presently in doesn’t start the meeting on time and finish on time.  In today’s business climate it has become shockingly acceptable to join meetings 5 or 10 minutes late and THEN when you try to leave a meeting ON TIME so the next equally important meeting you’re attending can start ON TIME people eviscerate you.  Why?

To me, starting on time is respectful and starting late is offensive.  I am no more important than any other attendee but by starting late and running over, the attendee’s of that meeting are saying to the attendee’s of the next meeting that they are in fact more important.

Can’t we all just start and stop on time?

You can do it.

My current work environment was built on an on-time culture.  It started with our CEO who is nervous if he’s not in the room or on the call 5 minutes before the scheduled start time.  If you show up precisely at the start time, in his eyes you’re late.  Through his leadership and dogged enforcement of the “on-time rules” our entire company run’s on time and it has infused a sense of being on-time in all things.  We deliver software releases on time, we return emails and phone calls on time, etc.  I feel that simply being on time for meetings has made us measurably more successful in the marketplace.

What do you think?