“Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late.” ~William Shakespeare

“Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” ~Anonymous

You may or may not believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but regardless of that, being punctual needs to be one of the top item on your To-Do list. I get it, you’re busy, but if you are chronically late to meetings and appointments in the workplace, you’re destroying all of your hard work and killing your chance at career advancement. You might think that’s a bit harsh, that a few minutes here or there are no big deal, or that others are late too, but below are five ways that your tardiness in perceived and the impression it leaves:

Lack of respect – Would you be late to a meeting with the CEO? Probably not because they warrant respect, the meeting material must be important, and their time is valuable. So when you are late to a meeting you are portraying the exact opposite. You’re showing your peers, subordinates and bosses that you don’t respect their time, their position, or the material you are meeting about. And everybody sees it. Impression you leave: Rude

Not reliable – If you’re late to a meeting, it begs the question to everyone else in the meeting, “What else is he/she late to?” Are you late to customer sales calls? Are you late with projects? Are you late to work every morning? Can I trust this person to do what they say they will if they can’t make a meeting on time? None of these are good questions for your career prospects. Impression you leave: Flaky

Lack of priorities – Everyone is busy, but successful people tackle being busy by prioritizing. In fact, it’s the key to being able to handle more responsibility. If you can’t make meetings on time because you’re too busy, then you aren’t ready for more responsibility. Impression you leave: Overwhelmed

Political posturing – Usually the highest ranking person in the meeting gets a free pass to be late (right or wrong). If you are showing up late it can be perceived that you think you’re the most important person in the room. NOT something that is constructive or fosters collaboration. Impression you leave: Arrogant

Wasting money - My favorite argument for not having meetings or limiting the attendance is simply adding up the hourly wage of everyone in attendance and multiplying by the length of the meeting. Meetings often cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. That doesn’t mean it isn’t money well spent, but let’s say you have five other people in a meeting and they wait 10 minutes for you to arrive, you just wasted 50 minutes of company time. If there are Executives involved, that just cost a pretty penny. Impression you leave: Irresponsible

For right or wrong, perception can be reality. A lack of punctuality leaves horrendous perceptions in its wake. Either manage your punctuality or reap the consequences of the impressions it leaves.

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