What To Do With a Chronic Latecomer to Your Meetings?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on October 29, 2013

A common team problem is getting people to meetings on time. Meetings start late, people straggle in, and they are distracted with other activities.

Try these techniques to tackle this pesky problem:

Start on Time. If the meeting was supposed to start at 8 a.m., start at 8 a.m. regardless. No matter who is missing. Even the big banana. If you don’t, you simply reinforce tardiness.

Be Odd. Schedule your session to start at an odd time e.g. 8:07 am. People will be more likely to remember an odd time and make an effort to be there.

shutterstock_277372325Be Convenient. Schedule your session at a convenient time and place for the majority of the team members.

Be Comfortable. An attractive meeting room with comfortable chairs is much more enticing than a cinder block cell (oops, I meant conference room).

Have Food. People like to go places where there is free food. Even having cold sodas on hand can boost attendance!

Close the Door when the meeting begins. If they know they can’t “slip in” late, they might just arrive on time!

Schedule Priorities First. Schedule the important agenda items for the beginning of the meeting. Better yet, schedule the important items of interest to the chronic latecomer first — so it’s in the latecomer’s self-interest to be on time.

Pressure ’Em. Ask the team for help in dealing with the chronic latecomers. Peer pressure works wonders.

Shame Them. Publish the names of absentees and latecomers in the team minutes.

Describe Consequences. If you are the latecomer’s supervisor, describe the consequences of the tardiness. If not, then go get “horsepower” to encourage them to be on time.

Sing.  One team I worked with had a ground rule where the last person to come to the meeting had to sing a song, have to take the meeting minutes or some other less than desirable task.

Of course, I prefer the carrot rather than the last four suggestions which are more of a “stick” approach.  What are some of the things you do to inspire prompt attendance at your meetings?


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