Why You’re Late and What it Says About You

In business, there’s no such thing as fashionably late.

Yes, things may happen from time to time that keep you from being prompt. Things like miscommunications, location mix-ups, and traffic accidents. But if you’ve slipped into a pattern of making punctuality the exception and not the rule, it’s time to change your ways.

Oh, come on. Everyone is late sometimes.

Yes. This is true. And occasional tardiness is usually forgiven, especially when there are extenuating circumstances. But that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to show up wherever, whenever.

People know the difference between someone who arrives late every once in a while and someone who can’t seem to get anywhere on time. Like, ever.

And do you know why? Because over and over again, you’ve shown them which kind of person you are. And they have no choice but to believe you.

Cue the resentment

Being chronically late is a big trust destroyer. And resentment builder. And morale buster. None of which are good for business.

When you don’t show up on time, you’re essentially defaulting on an agreement. For whatever reason, you decided it wasn’t important to hold up your end of the bargain.

What this says to people is, “My time is more important than your time.” And “My needs are more important than your needs.” Or, even worse, “I’m more important than you are.”

This stings. Especially when everyone else made it a priority to honor the arrangement. It also creates anger and resentment among your team.

Once you’ve established yourself as that person who doesn’t care enough to honor your commitments, people will start treating you that way. They’ll accept that you can’t be counted on, and adjust their behaviors accordingly. No one will be surprised or say anything when you’re late, because that’s just you delivering on your promise of being unreliable.

To a chronically late person, this reaction might seem pretty great at first. But don’t mistake these coping mechanisms for approval.

Here’s what you don’t see

Eyes will roll when your name gets mentioned. Colleagues will count on you not coming through, and brace themselves to pick up the slack. Over time, you’ll get invited to fewer and fewer things, leaving you with fewer and fewer opportunities to demonstrate your lack of respect for the team.

You’ll also receive fewer opportunities to deliver value, solve problems, and show your worth.

In essence, you’ve just become your own worst enemy. And it’s going to hold you back.

But there is hope

Lateness is not innate. You weren’t born with it. It’s a routine that was established over time. All you have to do is kick the habit. But first, you have to look at why you’re always late.

Here are three common causes of chronic tardiness:

1.) Optimism

It won’t take that long to get there! I can squeeze these two more things in before I go! Parking is never a problem! I have time to stop and get coffee! Everyone on the team loves me! They won’t mind if I’m 5 minutes late!

If this is you, congratulations! You’ve got that positive thinking thing down. But there’s a fine line between being optimistic and being delusional.

If you find yourself constantly running late despite your great attitude and your best intentions, there is a disconnect between your vision and your reality.

If accurate time estimation is your issue, try this trick: Ask yourself how long you think it will take you to do something: finish a work task, get from point A to point B, grab a coffee. Then time yourself. Don’t rush through the process. Proceed as you normally would. Take a look at your actual time. Were you right or were you wrong? Compare the results and adjust your expectations accordingly. And always, always give yourself a 10 – 15 minute buffer in case something doesn’t go according to plan.

If you truly believe people don’t care if you’re late, time isn’t the only thing you’re not grasping. 

2.) Yes-ism

Sometimes, it’s the sweetest, nicest people who are chronically late. Ironically, these are the very same people who would never want to let anyone down.

The problem is that by saying yes to everything, you’ve set yourself up for failure.

In your resistance to saying no, you’ve overscheduled yourself to the point where you can’t possibly be on time. Or maybe you were going to be on time but then said yes to one more thing that made you late. Or perhaps you let your last commitment keep you longer than it should have because you just couldn’t bring yourself to cut someone off, refuse that last cup of coffee, or leave an event that was running over on time.

Unfortunately, this emphasis on saying yes is making some very nice people seem like very big jerks. And that’s unfortunate for everyone.

Kicking this habit starts with learning to set boundaries— and sticking to them.

Try working with a therapist, coach, or snuggling up with a boundary building self-help book like Where to Draw the LineJust make sure you put it down in time to get to your next appointment.

3.) Pessimism

No one’s going to be there on time. Everyone always shows up late. If I get there early, I might have to talk to people and/or sit around awkwardly. This meeting is stupid anyway.

Pessimists often like to refer to themselves as realists. And if this is your reality, it’s no wonder you’re not motivated to arrive on time. But reality is really just perception, and perhaps yours is a bit skewed. How many times have you been dragged into something kicking and screaming only to admit afterwards that it wasn’t that terrible. Maybe it was even fun?

Yes, we’ve all been to our fair share of bad meetings, but getting there late doesn’t make them any better. In fact, this kind of behavior can actually raise the levels of tension and conflict in the group. In other words, you may be creating or magnifying your perceived reality by showing up late. Plus, you’re also creating a negative perception of yourself in others by appearing to be impolite, self-centered, and unreliable.

If you really want to be a realist, start using your power of observation to watch how your behavior affects your reality. Notice how things go when you show up on time or early instead of at the last minute or late. See how people react to you, and how it changes the course of the session.

If you’re feeling really inspired, try noting how things go if you show up early, and with coffee and doughnuts. Now that’s a reality we can all appreciate.


Photo by fsstock

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook

Employee Surveys: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

People who care about their personal health often see their physicians for regular checkups. During these visits, the doctor will take your pulse, listen to your heartbeat, and check your weight. The idea is to catch anything that might be brewing before it becomes a bigger, potentially irreversible, problem.

Leaders who care about the health of their companies would be wise to go through the same process on a regular basis. Take the pulse of your organization, listen to the internal workings of the team, and check to see what things might be weighing them down.

The goal of organizational check-ins is to catch any unhealthy symptoms before they have a chance to spread and get worse. If you uncover some unpleasant things happening in your business, you’ll need to start working on a cure.

Looking for symptoms

There are many ways to go about getting important feedback from your team: during performance reviews, through exit/stay interviews, and in meetings and focus groups. These kinds of mechanisms can provide great information, but mostly in the form of anecdotal stories. If you want aggregate data, you’ll need to ask everyone the same questions in the same format.

Attempting to do this one-on-one is a grand idea, but depending on the size of your organization, it could be virtually impossible to conduct and document these sessions in a timely manner. And depending on what’s going on in your organization, it could be literally impossible to get people to tell you what they really think in a face-to-face format.

This is where employee surveys can be extremely useful. As long as you’re committed to getting them right.

Methodology matters

When done well, employee surveys can gather important information, even from a large group, quickly and anonymously. And, because everyone is being asked the exact same questions in the exact same way, you’re getting apples-to-apples responses as opposed to nuanced stories and answers.

Unfortunately, many organizations are conducting employee surveys that aren’t done well. They’re asking questions that are irrelevant, misleading, or confusing. They’re designing surveys that are obviously slanted toward a particular outcome. They’re creating “anonymous” surveys that contain key identifying questions. And sometimes, they’re just asking WAY TOO MUCH.

There is a right and a wrong way to conduct employee surveys. If you’re going to go through the trouble to do one, you’ll want to make sure your efforts are fruitful, not futile.

How to design an employee survey that works

Slapping together a random survey will yield random responses and random results. To get the most out of your information gathering, design your research in a way that maximizes participation, honesty, and reliability.


Define the goal of the survey – What do you want to measure? What indictors will you use? How will the results be analyzed? (NOTE: Employee surveys should never be used merely as a vehicle to pat leadership on the back. If that’s your main purpose, stop right here and save yourself the time and money.)

Check your toolbox – Have you conducted similar research before? Do you have benchmarking data? Can you pull questions from previous surveys?

Think design – Will the survey be conducted in-house or outsourced to a third party? Are you committed to keeping results anonymous? Is it strictly an online endeavor or does your staff require other options?


Create your questions – Will your questions be open ended, multiple choice, or a mix? No matter what format you choose, there are some basic rules you’ll want to follow:

  • Make sure each question serves a distinct purpose. Irrelevant questions will give you irrelevant data.
  • Arrange questions in a logical sequence. Avoid jumping back and forth.
  • Keep it simple. Each question should addresses one thing only. Avoid multiple-part questions and complicated jargon. Make each question clear and concise. If you must use complicated terms or acronyms, include an explanation for each one.
  • Keep it positive. Avoid negatively worded or biased questions.
  • Keep it neutral. Toss out any partisan language or leading questions.
  • Keep it short. No one wants to answer a 75 question survey. Or even a 25 question survey. Research has shown that the more questions you ask, the less time respondents will spend on each one. Strive for a 2 – 8 question range, or a completion time of 10 minutes or less.
  • If you’re going anonymous, go all in. Avoid any personal and/or identifying questions, and use a system that doesn’t track response dates and times, or respondent email and IP addresses.

Explain the why, how, and what – You’ll need to communicate with your employees about the survey prior to sending it. Tell them the purpose of the survey, why it’s important, and how they will benefit. Give them details on when it will arrive, what it will look like, how they should fill it out, when it needs to be returned, and how the results will be used. If you’re going incognito, explain that all results will be completely anonymous and confidential. Thank them in advance for their time and effort.

Test it out – Never send an employee survey without running it through a test group first. You’ll want to make sure there is consensus on what the questions mean, how to fill it out, and that it actually works. You’ll also want to check all spelling and grammar, not only to avoid confusion and loss of credibility, but because there are always plenty of people who love to send emails pointing out these kinds of mistakes. Bottom line: If there is any kind of problem with your survey, you’re going to create significant frustration and a flurry of unwanted questions and comments.

Send it out – Because you’ve explained why the survey is being conducted, what it looks like, and how it should be filled out, this process should be smooth. Remember to include all of this information again with the survey so respondents have all of the information they need in one place.

Now what?

Now you wait. And collect. And send out multiple reminders.

Once you have a good portion of the surveys back, you can begin to analyze the data and results.

There is one caveat here. And it goes back to the old saying, “Be careful what you ask for.”

If you don’t like the results you’re getting, you can’t just shove them in a drawer somewhere. You’re too far in now. You did your homework, you set your goals, and you designed your questions carefully. You (and your employees) committed to this process and you need to follow it through all the way to the end.

Staff will be expecting to see something from leadership about the survey responses and what changes they should anticipate as a result. Don’t let them down. Share what you learned and how you plan to incorporate that information into organizational processes moving forward.

After all, wasn’t that the whole point?


Photo by niroworld

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook  

Do You Need Executive Coaching?

It’s universally accepted that athletes need coaches. Depending on the nature of the game and the size of the team, there could be one single coach or an entire fleet of them. But at the end of the day, we expect those coaches to call the shots and to bring out the best in each player.

In business organizations, it’s the leadership team that acts as the coaching staff. They’re the ones who are expected to make the big decisions and mentor staff and employees as they work toward their shared goals.

But who coaches the coaches? How do they know they’re doing what’s best for the organization?

Many times, it’s the owners who take on the role of making sure the coaches are bringing about the results they want to see. Unfortunately, both in sports and in business, they often do this by simply firing coaches who aren’t producing enough wins. Sometimes, this is done hastily and without consideration for the various obstacles the coach is trying to overcome.

Owners and shareholders can get so focused on winning that they don’t care about helping their organizational coaches improve. They just send them on their way, assuming that the next person coming in will perform better.

Eventually, these coaches get picked up by other organizations to come in and save their programs. But because they have been tossed around without any real coaching themselves, they aren’t necessarily any wiser or better equipped for the job.

Being fired doesn’t necessarily create stronger leaders, but it can definitely create more fearful leaders. These leaders operate knowing they are in danger of losing their jobs for any failure at any time. It’s almost impossible to effectively mentor your team when you’re primarily focused on your own survival.

Time for a game plan

It seems like basic logic. If your employees benefit from having coaches, then your leadership team should, too. But when should you bring one in? And how do you know which one to choose?

Here are some tips to help you determine a.) if your organization needs executive coaching and b.) how to find a coach that’s a good fit.

You may need executive or leadership coaching if:

  • You want to support your top performers
  • Your industry or business model has shifted
  • Key roles and responsibilities are changing hands
  • Individuals or teams are no longer performing to standard
  • Team members are dissatisfied with current culture and leadership styles
  • A leader wants to develop core strength areas or improve areas of weakness
  • Your company lacks effective policy, processes, teamwork, or communication
  • There is active tension and conflict within the leadership team or the organization

A word of warning

Just because your organization needs executive coaching and you’re willing to consider it doesn’t mean it’s going to work. A couple of key things have to happen in order for it to be successful.

  • Your leadership needs to be coachable. If owners and leaders perceive coaching as a hostile act of criticism, they aren’t going to get anything out of it. And neither will the organization. You might as well throw your money out the window.
  • You need to be committed. If you don’t dedicate the time and resources necessary to allow the process to work properly, you’ll end up with a lot of intention and no results. Building a great team requires a significant amount of time, work, and practice. And yes, good coaches cost money. If you’re going in on coaching, you’ve got to go all in.

Finding a good coaching match

Coaches come in all different shapes, sizes, and flavors. And they specialize in a variety of skills and industries. If you don’t hire the right one, you won’t get the right advice. Or the best outcomes.

Here are a few things to consider in your search:

Experience: You want your executive coach to have experience being in a leadership role. Even better if he or she has worked in or is very familiar with your specific industry. Keep in mind that years of coaching experience isn’t necessarily the best indicator of fit or success. Depending on your industry and needs, someone coming in fresh from the field can be very effective. Just because someone is new to the consulting gig doesn’t mean they can’t offer valuable information. Whether they’ve been doing it for 30 years or just getting started, the most important thing is to find someone who is the right fit for you and your team.

Results: Ask for examples of specialty areas and key problems the coach has been asked to help with or address. Does the coach have ways to measure and track progress? Cover results, outcomes and learning lessons. If they have other clients, ask for references. Any good executive coach will be able to provide you with at least a couple of relevant people to talk to.

Approach: Does the coaching style align with your leadership style and company culture? How are organizational goals determined and what does working toward them look like? What processes will the coach take you through? Ask how long an engagement typically lasts and what the sessions will look/feel/be like. Choose a coach with a philosophy and style that will be well received by your team.

Victory is yours for the taking

Many teams are quite averse to bringing in consultants, especially at the executive or ownership levels. But if no one is coaching your top leaders, how can they possibly be at their best? Or bring it out in others?

Think of your leaders as the professional team that they are. Invest in their growth and development so they can do the same for your organization.


Photo by trendobjects 

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook 

Afraid to Try Anything New? Get Ready to Become Irrelevant.

We tend to avoid things that scare us, and this can be a good thing. Steering clear of bears, for example.

And yet we often avoid “scary” things that are really quite good for us. Like going to the dentist. Or putting spinach in our smoothies. Or, even scarier still… adopting new business technologies and processes.

Trying something new is always a little unsettling. Maybe we don’t understand why we should do it or how it could possibly end well. (Spinach?!?! In my smoothie?!?!)

Or maybe we do understand, but still find it to be intimidating. (What if I can’t choke it down? Six dollars wasted!)

Yes, it takes courage to overcome our fears. But at the end of the day, it’s those who dare to try new things who will find themselves at the top of their game.

Are you playing to win?

Many organizations are having difficulty staying on the leading edge when it comes to technology. But sticking with the same old plan isn’t an option. Integrating new workplace technology into your sales, marketing, customer service, and communications processes is imperative, not just to become more competitive— but even to remain relevant.

Organizations who continue to live in the world of what they currently know and the way that they’ve always done things are eventually going to disappear, because someone else will jump in and fill the void of “what could be.”

This is a time of opportunity and innovation. Your customers are looking for it and you should be, too. Relying on outdated or conventional ways of selling, operating, and communicating will not capture the attention of the technology-savvy buyers of today and, more importantly, the potential buyers of tomorrow.

You need to engage with customers, clients, and prospects in ways that they want (and need!) you to connect with them.

Are you working to solve the problems they want solved? Are you communicating in ways they want to communicate? Are you making your interactions as easy, streamlined, and pleasant as possible? This is impossible to do if you’re still using the equivalent of dial-up technology and rolodex processes.

It’s time to eat your spinach

Integrating new technology and processes into your organization can be scary. Maybe even terrifying.

But can you think of anything more frightening than watching your business decline year after year after year?

The fear of trying new things has been many a company’s downfall. Don’t let it be yours. Find the courage to turn that fear into opportunity.


Photo by Сергей Толмачев

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook


Are Critical Conversations Still Critical?

Once upon a time, there were very few ways to effectively communicate. And most of them involved actual, real-time conversation. Now that we have a plethora of ways to send and receive messages, you may think real, live, in-the-moment discussions have gone the way of the dinosaurs. But don’t be a dodo bird.

Critical conversations are still very necessary, both in business and in life.

Yes, there are plenty of occasions where alternative methods of communication will do. But there are also a ton of instances where interactive conversation is a superior way to work things out and get things done.

But we can just write, right?


Written communication can be great for quick messages, how-to explanations, and documenting specific details, but it leaves a few key things missing. Vocal tone, expression and delivery are conspicuously absent, as are any signs of facial cues or body language. Emojis may try to fill in the blanks, but when it comes to critical conversations, they are no substitute for genuine emotions.

And speaking of emotions, written communication removes a couple of key ones: fear and accountability.

Communicating electronically or in writing makes many people much more willing to say things they would never say in person. And, because this medium allows the writer to continue uninterrupted and on their own schedule, it’s really more of a one-way conversation as opposed to an open, collaborative dialogue. So while messages may be streaming back and forth, they aren’t necessarily resulting in a constructive conversation.

Conversations still matter

Yes, talk can be cheap, but it can also be communication gold. True conversation is a two-way interchange, where information is both given and received. It’s not just about talking. It’s about connecting.

If you’ve got an important problem to solve, issue to discuss, or situation to deal with, it could be well worth your while to talk it out.

Here’s how to make the most of your next critical conversation:

Prepare ahead of time – Collect your thoughts, determine key points of discussion, check your facts, and have some positive outcomes in mind.

Encourage new ideas and different points of view – Acknowledge and be open to what others are thinking and feeling. Recognize that people come from different situations. Viewpoints may depend on a multitude of factors including, age, race, gender, past experience, etc.

Ask questions – Good conversations require good information. Make sure you clearly understand what others are saying. The following questions can help:

  • Tell me more
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What do you mean by that?
  • How would that work?
  • Why is this important?

Listen – Constructive conversation requires a little bit of talking and a whole lot of listening. Listening does not mean waiting for your turn to talk. It means being patient, having empathy, and making a concerted effort to understand what others are saying—and feeling. Pay attention what is being said verbally as well as what is being through body language and tone.

Stay on track – Listening is important, but if someone gets too far off topic, they can take your entire conversation with them. Sticking to specific details instead of painting broad generalities will help keep things focused. Example: “You’re not performing well.” vs. “You’ve missed your last two project deadlines.”

Maintain a balance – The goal here is information sharing. Not information dumping. If any one person is monopolizing the conversation, it’s going to affect the integrity – and the outcomes – of the conversation.

Make your next conversation count

The next time you’re tempted to blast out an email or send a quick text, think about the effectiveness of the method based on the outcomes you’d like to see.

Investing in some constructive conversation might actually be the quickest, most effective way to accomplish your goals. 


Photo by rawpixel

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook