Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting latecomers to show up on time, part of Managing Employee Performance Problems (2013).
- You remember that kid in school who always seemed to be late to class? The teacher would call them tardy. Unfortunately, many of them grew up, never learned how to be on time, and now you've got to try and manage them. Being consistently late is typically a problem, but there is one exception. The person who always does great work, usually finishes on time, but personally is often late to arrive at where they're supposed to be. If they're habitually late, they likely need to be talked to but you really want to go easy on them since they're giving you what you ultimately need as the boss, which is great work.
Now, for everyone else, whether you're talking about being late for a meeting or coming in late at the beginning of the work day, they need to be managed. With the exception of a deep personal problem that requires you to speak to HR or refer the person to an employee assistance program, it really doesn't matter why they're habitually late. People hold different views about what it means to be timely. Some folks simply didn't plan well. And others actually like being the center of attention when they finally arrive. In any case, you have to deal with it. Here's why.
If you consistently allow this behavior, that's a direct hit to productivity. Because for most people, their work is done at the office. So shaving off time away from their desk usually hurts productivity. Also, late behavior, even for otherwise strong performers, irritates everyone who was considerate enough to show up on time. Finally, don't forget that habitually late folks slowly but surely make everyone else think that it's okay to show up late. In terms of the model for dealing with difficult employees, this type of person is easy to deal with.
The observe phase is straightforward, as the absence or presence of someone is easy to follow and gives you clear data upon which to act. Let's say you're dealing with Richard, who is habitually late to work. Before any intervention, try this. Pull him aside and say, "Richard, over the last two months "you've been late over half the time." "Usually about 15 minutes." "Is everything okay?" "Is there anything you want me to know?" Then try to comfortably pause and let them speak. If you really don't learn anything, politely encourage them to be more timely.
No more than one week later, if the behavior persists you'll need to decide about an intervention. Now, this will be a different type of intervention since the issue is not their work per se but a behavior that you need to make extinct. This is a formal intervention and it's focused on progressive discipline. Privately say to him, "Richard, the lateness has continued "consistently this week with the exception of one day." "I want you to know I'm documenting each incident, "that it needs to stop, and I want you to have this." And then hand them a copy of any relevant company policy.
Continue with, "I'll check in with you in a couple weeks." "But after this, I can only give one more chance" "or we'll have to discuss more difficult consequences." "Richard, are you sure there's no way I can help you?" You now continue to document the issue, and in two to four weeks you have to do it one more time. And the more blatant the behavior is, the sooner you'll have to intervene again. Try this. "Richard, as I promised, I've continued documenting the lateness issue and it hasn't changed." Then hand him a copy of the letter you're adding to his personnel file describing the issue.
Have him sign your copy to indicate it was received. In terms of monitoring and following up, one or two weeks later if the behavior is extinct, spectacular. Congratulate Richard and tell him to keep up the good work. If not, it's time to execute your organization's process for termination. Let's be clear. Termination is a difficult decision that should only be taken after significant efforts have been made to correct the problem. Also, in the case that the issue is finally addressed, if relapse occurs, the process we just discussed should happen again.
But this time it will be more accelerated. I know it can be challenging to deal with certain behaviors we'd rather not see at work. But if you'll follow the advice we just discussed, you can stay in control of the situation and your team will appreciate the effort.
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- Determining the appropriate intervention
- Defusing charged conversations
- Refocusing slackers
- Getting employees to show up on time
- Redirecting habitual complainers
- Engaging employees that always resist change
- Standing up to bullies
- Encouraging employees that can't handle feedback
- Helping people with personal problems
- Dealing with gossips
- Knowing when to say goodbye to an employee<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.