MLP-037-Why-Being-On-Time-Is-Critical-And-What-Leaders-Can-Do-About-It. - Meeting Leadership Podcast Episode Image

Late arrivals at meetings do more than just interrupt presentations or cause others to wait for their arrival.

If you’ve followed the concepts introduced in episodes 020 and 034 of our Meeting Leadership Podcast (see links below)–which explain the costs of each meeting and the annual costs–you have an idea how frequent tardiness can hurt your bottom line. 

In MLP #037, we discuss ways to identify and eliminate problem areas regarding meeting tardiness, such as:

  • Developing a culture where showing up late to a meeting is unacceptable
  • Making the consequences of tardiness clear to your employees
  • The vital question every leader should be asking their employees and themselves about meetings: Why are we here?

We’ll revisit the concept of Meeting Return on Investment (MROI) introduced the earlier chapters, and apply it to a specific part of meeting effectiveness.

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00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Start Here – Podcast content starts here!

Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard and I just want to say thanks for taking time out of your day to be here. And I also want to take a moment to explain why it’s called the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Now you can’t be a leader without having a meeting. You’ve got to lead folks and that’s the basic premise there. And you can’t have a great meeting without having a great leader. So we put those things together in this podcast and every day we give you a new tip to build your leadership skills. We give you a new strategy to take out into your next meeting to improve it. Ultimately, that will have an impact on you, your team, your entire organization and everybody that you serve. 

01:07 – Why being on time is critical, and what leaders can do about it

And if you’re the type of leader who really respects the people they work with, then you’re going to really enjoy today’s episode because it’s called Why Being On Time Is Critical and What Leaders Can Do About It. Now, of course, everybody in a meeting gets to grit their teeth when somebody else is late. You know the feeling. You’re sitting there, you’re waiting, you want to get going, you’re out of chit chat. That person rolls in and they are maybe apologetic or maybe they’re chronically doing this all the time. Either way, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a disaster for any team that’s trying to get together, especially on a regular basis. And as the person who called the meeting, in the back of your mind, you have to always be aware of your MROI, your meeting return on investment. And you know how bad it is for business when somebody is late. But what can you do about it? 

01:54 – Tip #1 – Develop a culture where tardiness is unacceptable

Well, in today’s episode, I’m going to make three suggestions that you can put into action right away and I’m going to start the first suggestion with a story. Now there’s a colleague of mine and his name is Larry. Now, Larry in the day was a senior level executive running a 500 million dollar portfolio for a large organization. So you can imagine that the meetings that he led were pretty important and a few dollars were being spent on the people who are in the room. And do you want to know what he would do to stop latecomers? He would lock the door, as in it’s nine o’clock, the door gets locked, anybody that’s late is not getting in the meeting. Well, one time, guess what happened? His boss was late. Now his boss is outside this door, outside this important meeting, pounding on the door saying, “Let me in, let me in, let me in.” And did Larry let him in? Uh-uh (negative) And how many times did that happen? Once. And did Larry get in trouble? Well, he sure did, but guess what happened after that? His boss started doing the same thing because they had developed a culture where lateness was absolutely low hanging fruit. It was absolutely unacceptable and they had too much to do in a meeting for anybody to be late.

03:00 – Tip #2 – Make the cost of tardiness clear to employees

Which leads me into my second suggestion, which is this, when the latecomer comes in, ask them a simple question. How much does this meeting cost? Have them look around the room, have them do some rough calculations, and then come up with a number. So if there’s 10 people in the room, everybody makes about a hundred bucks an hour, or the equivalent. Is this meeting really costing a thousand dollars? And can they say that out loud? And when they do, then you can say, “Well, you were late. How much did it cost us for being late? And what do you want to do about it?” And of course, I really appreciate that you can’t do this kind of blunt approach with the people on your team, but you can hear the spirit of it.

04:39 – Tip #3 – Why are we here?

And if that’s the way you’re going to rip the bandaid off for people being chronically late, for example, then why not take a chance? And if you’d like to learn more about measuring meeting costs, then there’s a couple of episodes of the Meeting Leadership Podcast that I’d like to recommend. The first one is episode 20 it’s called How to Measure the Real Cost of a Meeting. Now in there you’re going to find the meeting costs calculator formula, which will help you figure out the actual cost of a one hour meeting. And then if you want to take it up to the big picture level, you’ll be listening to episode 34 it’s called, How To Measure the Annual Cost of Meetings. And that episode is really for the senior leaders who want to get a feel for all the meetings that happen within their organization, find out which ones are working so you can do more of them, and also figure out how to cut out the ones that are just absolutely dragging you down.

And you can get the first one by going to And you can get that second episode by going to And finally we come to my third suggestion, which is this, once the latecomer sits down, you can stop everything and ask this question, “Why are we here?” Now, as many of you listeners know, I believe that you should be able to stop any meeting at any moment and connect that moment directly to your strategy. I believe it’s so strongly, I always say it twice. I believe you should be able to stop any meeting at any moment and connect that moment directly to your strategy. Well, when you say, “Why are we here?” To the entire group after somebody who’s late has walked in, that’s where I want you to say, “We have strategic objectives we’re trying to get done. We have a vision for this entire organization and this meeting counts towards getting that vision moved forward.”

And while I know that sounds pretty intense, I’m just trying to give you a few tools to make sure that person is never late again. Because as a leader, you know that you can not afford a culture of latecomers, the cost, it’s too high. And you know now is the time to do something about it. And while we’re doing that, let me take a moment to recap the three things that you can actually go out and get done. Number one, lock the door just like Larry did. Number two, take the time to measure the meeting cost and make sure everybody respects it and realizes how valuable everybody’s time is. And finally, number three, which is to answer your why. Why are we here? Why are we in this meeting? How can we all band together and make sure that this lateness stuff never happens again? 

06:10 – The Meeting Leadership Academy –

And I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now there you’re going to find great online training options, great live training options for you as a leader to get the skills, to get the strategies that you need to run outstanding meetings. And you can learn more about that at And as always, thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you tomorrow on the meeting leadership podcast.

06:37 – Outro

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow. Right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Connect With Gordon Sheppard

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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