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

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Employee Turnover: The Good, The Bad, and the Unknown

Businesses spend a lot of time lamenting the effects of employee turnover. But not ALL turnover is bad. Some of it is natural. And some can actually be good.

The problem is that we often don’t do the research necessary to discover which kind of turnover we are experiencing, and whether or not it’s something to worry about.

Solving the Mystery

  • Are you losing highly coveted employees or letting go of dead weight?
  • Is your turnover due to factors that are within your control or outside of your control?
  • Do you have a disproportionately high attrition rate or is it in line with your industry and area?

Well-designed employee surveys and exit interviews can help you find the answers. These useful HR tools allow you to determine whether you have serious problems with your organization or if your turnover is just part of the normal business cycle.

But it’s not enough to just ask the right people the right questions. Conducting exit interviews is a meaningless exercise if you don’t analyze the results and make changes as needed.

Evaluating the data

Things to consider:

Don’t get hung up on any one comment. Look for themes and trends.

Are there teams, departments, or locations that are losing employees at a much faster rate? Are multiple employees citing lack of career development, insufficient wages, or poor leadership as reasons for their departure?

Although these things may be difficult to hear, responses like this are the golden nuggets of exit interviews. They allow you to take a closer look at identified areas and processes within your business that have prompted good people to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Examine the “why”

Employees leave for many reasons, some of which have nothing to do with your organization. This is important to consider when evaluating your turnover.

What percentage left for reasons you could do nothing about (health, retirement, relocation)?

Don’t knock yourself out over these departures. A certain amount of turnover is a natural part of the business/employee cycle.

What percentage of your employees left for reasons you may have been able to address (compensation, culture, workload)?

This is where you can make the biggest impact on your numbers. If you’ve set up your exit interviews well, it’s worth trusting data they provide. Use this feedback to reassess your organization through the eyes of your current and future employees. If you’re having trouble doing this, consider surveying those who are still with you to find out what changes they would like to see.

Are a significant number of employees leaving soon after being hired?

This could indicate a problem with your recruitment, hiring, onboarding, or culture. Are you finding the right people? Are you looking for cultural fit? Maybe the experience you’re selling doesn’t match up with the reality of the experience you’re offering. Nothing will send a new employee packing faster than disillusionment or a good old bait and switch.

Did a bunch of employees leave at once?

Look at the separation dates. What was happening in the organization? Was it right after a beloved CEO retired? Or a change-management initiative began? Were the departures concentrated in a particular team or area? What was going on in that department? Were they feeling isolated or ignored? Was there a change in expectations or performance metrics? Do you have a toxic supervisor or employee on your hands?

Any time you make big changes, you’ll have some employees who choose to leave. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, it helps get everyone aligned and on the same page. But if you’ve made a change that sends a significant number of your best people running, you’ll want to think about why. It could be something as simple as lack of communication. Or it could be that your new direction isn’t properly aligned with your core values and culture.

Making adjustments

This might just be the most difficult part of all. You love your company, and you want it to be the best it can be. So it can be hard to admit this might not be the case.

But in this challenge lies the potential for true growth. If you’ve got turnover issues, the big question to ask is: What is the company’s role in employee turnover and what improvements can we make to keep our best people?

If you do that regularly and honestly, you’ll soon be on your way toward filling your organization with employees who are as happy to be there as you are to have them.


Photo by Lemon Tree Images

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Taking a Closer Look at Employee Turnover

Separation. Termination. Departure. No matter what you like to call it, the fact remains the same: People on your team will come and go.

Turnover is interruptive, expensive, and inconvenient. But, like most things, it can also be an opportunity to learn and grow. Here are 2 ways to transform turnover lemons into organizational lemonade.

1.) Set up transition processes

Every employee is different, and each person has their own reasons for leaving— or being terminated. But your separation process should always be smooth and consistent.

If an employee is leaving voluntarily, always request a letter of resignation. This will document the reasons for the departure and help protect your organization against subsequent unemployment claims or other legal challenges.

If it’s an involuntary termination, make sure the employee’s supervisor and someone from HR are both present during the termination conversation. This will prevent any confusion over what transpired during the discussion.

In either case, you’ll want to cover the following:

  • Departure procedure and timeline
  • Staff communication plan
  • What happens with unused PTO
  • Severance pay, if applicable
  • Eligibility for benefits continuation
  • Employee office clean out/personal items
  • The return of all company property and equipment
  • Review of non-compete or non-disclosure agreements
  • Your policy on providing references
  • Exit survey details or instructions
  • Who to contact with any questions

You’ll also want to make sure processes are in place to cancel access to company credit cards, logins, systems, equipment, vehicles, and facilities.

2.) Conduct exit interviews

If you really want to know why your employees are leaving, you have to ask them. And listen carefully to what they say.

Exit interviews aren’t without issues. Many employees are afraid to speak candidly for fear of leaving on a bad note, burning bridges, or upsetting important business/industry connections. They may also want to receive positive recommendations or referrals as they move forward.

Despite this potential hurdle, putting together a solid exit interview program can yield critical feedback and information to help you uncover internal problems with company leadership, management, training, or morale.

To get the best results from your exit interviews, you’ll want to put some thought into your strategy and execution.

To encourage honesty:

Resist conducting interviews immediately when emotions are high

Do not have the employee’s former supervisor conduct the interview

Assure confidentiality of responses

Remain neutral and keep an open mind

For better data:

Avoid impersonal online surveys and general, multiple choice questions

Ask each person the same questions for consistency (You can branch off from there as needed)

Consider a follow up interview a few months out (Some research shows that people are more willing to give honest answers once they are farther removed from the situation)

To build credibility:

Have these conversations in person or on the phone

Treat former employees with respect and gratitude

Explain your purpose – to help keep the organization from losing more good employees

Make sure the interviewer is someone with the power to make change within the company

For increased effectiveness:

Focus on interviewing high-quality employees you didn’t want to lose

Listen more than you talk

Do not take sides or suggest fixes

Asking the right questions

Exit interview questions should explore topics like company culture, leadership, morale, development, training, workload, expectations, management, and compensation. A few examples include:

  • Was your work adequately acknowledged, appreciated, and compensated?
  • Were you given adequate training, tools, and support?
  • Did your workload seem fair, appropriate, and manageable?
  • Could you see career development options within the organization?
  • What was your relationship with your manager like? Your colleagues? Your team?
  • How would you describe the company culture and morale?

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, one emerging best practice is for organizations to ask this simple question:

Please complete the sentence “I don’t know why the company doesn’t just ____.”

This one question alone can uncover top employee frustrations and trends.

Uncovering the truth

Is your employee turnover part of the natural business cycle, or do you have some serious organizational issues that need fixing? A revolving employee door could be normal for your industry— or an opportunity for contemplation and growth.

Having a consistent, smooth exit process in place can help ease the pain associated with employee departures. But conducting exit interviews to find out why good people are leaving will allow you to answer the age old question:

Is it them or is it you?


Photo by Yulia Ryabokon 

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Increase Your Talent by Decreasing Your Bias

Bias. It’s everywhere. Like it or not, there’s a good chance we’ve all experienced it or unknowingly let it guide our decision making. Especially during the job search process.

Maybe you were assumed to be less capable because of your gender or race. Or perhaps you made your own assumptions about who might be more capable based age, looks, or some other external factor. Even when we have the best intentions, bias has a way of working itself into the world of recruitment.

If you’re in the business of hiring and firing, bias is not your friend. Not only can it get you in serious trouble, it can also cause you to miss out on some great talent.

I’m not biased… am I?

Sorry. The cold, hard truth is that you probably are.

All too often, our stereotypes, perceptions, and preconceived notions are so deeply engrained that we don’t even realize we’re playing favorites. Even if we have the the best intentions, we may not be able to separate our bias from our processes. As a result, we rule out potentially great talent based on things that really shouldn’t matter.

Research shows that people tend to prefer candidates who remind them of themselves. This means we are choosing (or ruling out) applicants based on characteristics we personally identify with. This can be something as major as race or as minor as a sports team preference.

The bottom line here is that your talent search process probably isn’t as open and objective as you think it is.

Playing fair

Most of us agree that everyone deserves a fair shot. But many times this isn’t how things play out on paper, in boardrooms, during interviews, or with job offers.

Denying the problem exists doesn’t do anyone any good. We need to admit that this is happening, even to the best of people, then seek out tools to help.

There is no silver bullet for completely removing bias from your hiring process, but there are ways to mitigate the effects and, in doing so, prevent yourself from overlooking some stellar candidates.

Here are a few things you can start doing today to help build the fair and equitable hiring process your organization wants and needs.

1. Scrub your resumes

When you have a lot of applicants, it feels good to narrow down the pile. But you may be making choices based on the wrong criteria. Age. Race. Gender. These things can all be assumed based on information included in standard resume format.

If you’re serious about letting the cream rise to the top, your first evaluation of potential new hires shouldn’t be influenced by these factors. Have HR remove pertinent data from applications and resumes before passing them on to the hiring team. Things like names, graduation year, schools attended, and even hobbies or interests can conjure up ideas and images of where that person comes from and what they are like.

2. Just say no to visuals

A candidate’s appearance can instantly trigger all kinds of biases. Make sure you have a strict No Photo policy in place to avoid making performance assumptions based on how a particular candidate looks. Make the first contact something other than a face to face meeting. Instead, ask them to take a skills test or do a phone interview. And as hard as it may be, resist searching your candidates online, at least in the early stages.

If your HR team doesn’t have time to take this extra step, consider using a recruiting app or program like Blendoor to do it for you.

3. Write neutral job descriptions

How can a job description be biased or discriminatory? By using language or pronouns geared toward a particular gender, expressing preferences for “mature, seasoned professionals” or “energetic, digital natives” and many other ways.

You may not even be aware of subtle ways your job descriptions could be slanted toward or away from particular groups. But there are ways to find out.

Services like Textio and Gender Decoder will run your job descriptions through their systems, looking for words and phrases that are could signal red flags.

4. Expand your search

Do you go back to the same recruiting sources over and over again? Try mixing it up. Look for new sources of talent. Examine your ideal candidate profile and your position requirements. Are you limiting your hiring pool by where and how you recruit?

5. Diversify your hiring team, and your organization

If your hiring teams don’t contain any diversity, it will be much more difficult to inject it into your hiring processes. And if your company doesn’t contain any diversity, well… that says something right there.

If you’re not sold in the idea of diversity, maybe this will help. Research from McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33% more likely to have above average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.

In fact, there is mounting evidence that companies with diverse teams perform better than companies with non-diverse teams. And research from Cloverpop shows that diverse teams make better decisions up to 87% of the time. In other words, expanding diversity is good for business.

Reduce your hiring bias and start building a more well-rounded effective team.


Photo by Vadim Zakharishchev

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Do Your Hiring Practices Need Some Help?

Hiring is an inevitable part of running a business. Even if you have the lowest turnover on the planet, at some point you’ll need to fill an empty position. Or 10.

Whether it’s due to growth, retirement, or good old-fashioned attrition, eventually you’re going to have to bring on some new people. But if your hiring practices aren’t up to snuff, your new hires won’t be either. 

Investing in good hiring practices is an investment in your business. If your hiring processes are efficient and well defined, you’ll find the right candidates much faster. And if you hire the right people at the get-go, you’ll spend way less time trying to manage square pegs into round holes.

Developing an effective and strategic recruitment process will save you time, money, and headaches.

Who are you looking for?

Are you hiring for skill, culture, or attitude?

Many companies get too wrapped up in specific skill sets, looking for that perfect person who can do it all. But in the quest for skills, we sometimes forget that having likable, motivated team members who are happy to be on staff can go a long way toward making the workplace more pleasant and productive.

Busy managers may be drawn to the idea of hiring for skill based on the assumption that minimal training will be required. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Employee training and onboarding are key components to new hire assimilation. In other words, spending time with new hires isn’t a bad thing. Not only will you make sure they are executing their skills how you want them to, you’ll also go a long way toward helping them feel welcome and supported, which are critical to employee engagement and retention.

Hiring for skill set is also tempting because it’s easier to define. You simply look for skills A,B and C. When you find them, it’s a match!

Hiring for attitude and culture is more nuanced. In order to effectively incorporate these things into the hiring process, you’ll need to define what they are, based on your current culture (if you’re happy with it) or the kind of culture you want to build. Take a look at your company culture, where it is now and where you want it to be. Identify key people within the organization who best exemplify your culture and assess the qualities they have that make them such a good fit.

Hiring for attitude doesn’t always mean hiring the perkiest person in the room. In some office cultures, this would be hinderance to success. Meanwhile, hiring for culture doesn’t mean you should only hire carbon copies of your current staff. To do so is to miss out on different perspectives, diversity, and the cultivation of a well-rounded team.

They key here is to figure out what kinds of skills, attitudes and qualities work best in your culture, and then weave those things into your talent search.

How to find your best fit

One way to make sure you’re looking for the right people is to create an ideal candidate profile.

Tell the story of who you want on your team. What kind of person are you looking for? Which traits are most desirable? Once you know who you’re targeting, it will be much easier to conduct your search. How can you connect with candidates that match your description? What social channels are they on? Where would they go to look for new opportunities? What kinds of incentives will they find motivating?

Another way to find ideal candidates is by crafting the ideal job description.

Work with your hiring manager to determine what the job currently looks like and what it should be moving forward. Does the position still make sense as is or would a little restructuring do everyone some good? What skill sets are mandatory? What skills are optional? What skills can be taught or learned?

Update the job description and tailor it toward your ideal candidate. If you’re looking for a creative, flexible, extrovert, say so. If the position is geared more toward someone who enjoys following a predictable daily routine, say that too. The more information you can include in the job description, the more apt you are to attract like-minded applicants.

How not to miss out

Finding awesome candidates is only half the battle. The other half is winning them over.

If you’re excited about your applicants, you can bet other companies will be, too. Sometimes, we fall into the trap of thinking about hiring strictly as a competition between candidates, and we forget that as employers, we’re also competing with other organizations.

When jobs are scarce, the tide turns in our favor, and the job is the prize. But when unemployment is low or talent is scarce, we need to flip this model on its head. The prize is that high performing new hire.

Here are several quick ways to lose the battle for talent:

  • Make candidates jump through too many hoops
  • Withhold details about the job, company, benefits, or compensation
  • Fail to keep applicants informed about where they are in the process
  • Take too long to schedule or complete interviews
  • Be indecisive or get stuck in committee
  • Wait too long to make an offer
  • Lowball your candidate to give you “leverage”
  • Demand they accept or decline your offer immediately

Don’t be on the losing end of the talent war. Define who you’re looking for, then revamp your hiring practices so they align with your company values and are attractive to those you want to recruit.

The hiring process is often a potential employee’s first peek into what it’s like to work with your organization. Make sure you’re looking good.


Photo by Kheng Ho Toh 

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