The Intention of Respect

“They are NEVER on time…and when they do show up, they wave to everyone who has been in attendance for the 15 minutes since the meeting started and take their seat. It’s as if they are all that matters.”

It’s so disrespectful. We all know individuals who avail themselves of this behavior trait. While others show up early, prepared with their work, spending some time socializing perhaps, or, perhaps a meal, the culprits just do not respect others enough to show up on time and may affect the purpose of a team.

I offered a workshop and a master class recently with different clients interested in reaching a common ground, a basic understanding about respect for time. Since no one wears watches anymore, everyone dependent on their cell phones, I’m not surprised that this difficulty has exacerbated itself to the epidemic that has become realized. It is certainly not acceptable; but no one will speak up.

So whose job is it anyway?


None of the four existing generations in the workforce has the monopoly for being on time; or being late. Sure you may see some tendencies. You may be a Traditionalist (b. 1922 – 1945) many of whom are either hanging on and in the coat-room or doing their damndest to save their companies. You are the largest growing part of the population and also on social media.

The Baby Boomers, (b. 1946 – 1964) were the “me” generation, seeking freedom at the very least, to be heard, and may have taken too many risks. Now sandwiched in-between with aging parental needs and returning children and their families their loyalty to the workplace is being challenged. Workplace balance can be particularly frustrated because they are of the age where they are released in a “re-organization” to bring more money to the stockholders. Ageism??? Causes for re-invention???

Generation X (b. 1965 – 1980) whose parents were probably both working and disdain authority figures and being told what to do. Fending for themselves due to an increase in divorces or after school lapses in parenting, these individuals may be fiercely independent and at times they rebel by being late. Late for interviews, habitually late for meetings, characteristically late for deadlines the need for guidance, if they’d take it, is abundant.

And finally, as identified in the most recent issue of HR Magazine, the Millenials (b. 1981 – 2000) these workers have had helicopter parents focusing their entire beings on the well-being of their children. Still tethered through an increase in communication accessibility, they are familiar with working in teams, and everyone receiving equal glory, their clarity within the workplace may seek further definition.

No one single group can step forward and claim that there are more from within their ranks that are systematically late. But there are patterns of disrespect that flourish.


What does it mean when you show up late for a meeting? The first thing to come to mind is you just don’t care. You have contempt for the meeting, for the purpose, for the people and it really doesn’t matter to you. “They are lucky to have you grace them with your presence.”

In a Huffington Post article last year, blogger Greg Savage brought out a few other concepts when he wrote How Did it Become So Okay for People to be So Late, for which he received 350,000, count that 350,000 likes on Facebook. You can read the report on that blog post and more here:

Additionally, in that same article, Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again, chose to remove blame from individuals aligning lateness with a mental disease. She identified 7 types of latecomers which can also be found there.

There are acronyms for late: lazy, laissez faire let it be, languid or lethargic; avoidance, asinine, awkward; threatening, timid, thoroughly insubordinate, tumultuous; evil, energy-stalkers, foregoing any effort, in-effectiveness, inefficient. If the badge is your’s to wear, do so proudly for it will be short-lived.


So, whether you are a person who doesn’t want to come early because no one ever does, or a family member for which you’ve changed the arrival time by 2 hours so they can enjoy some of the festivities, or a staffer who hasn’t realized that your office has done the same thing, how do we change these behaviors by holding people accountable and supporting them in changing their habits so they can become more prized because you are on time?

It doesn’t matter how old you are. What matters is respect!

If you have a meeting of 8 people, and their hourly rates average $50/hour, and they wait for 15 minutes for you to show up so you can wave “…hi, hi, hi…I sure hope I didn’t miss anything and that you will fill me in on all that took place…” how should you be held accountable? Fine them the cost of the time for the people in the room, regardless of whether the meeting started after waiting 5, 7, or 10 minutes?

In 2009, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick sent home a number of players from practice when they arrived late due to a snowstorm. Recently, he did not permit cornerback Darnelle Revis to attend practice because he overslept and was late. There, in New England, it does matter.

Then, there are the aristocrats, those who call the meetings, think themselves so important that they can take a phone call anywhere, because they have the title. How much do you think it does for morale when you’re sitting around the table with 5, 6, 15 or 20 folks, waiting for the head cheese to get off the phone and back to the purpose of the meeting?

So where do you draw the line and whose job is it anyway?


My Dad believed that you should show up early, get your coffee, read the newspaper and be ready to start work by 8 AM; not show up at 8 AM, get your coffee, read the newspaper, chat with everyone and then, maybe start work at 8:30 AM or even 8:45 AM. I’ve had clients with those difficulties and they don’t understand why they are losing money.

Life happens. There’s a roadblock; a detour; a new bus route.

Sometimes, you have other responsibilities that get in the way for you to get to work so you can get your job done: a sudden illness, a call from an old friend seeking compassion. You don’t plan on those things; but you might be able to plan for them.

Then, you’ve got poor time management skills. How can you determine for yourself, what are the challenges for you to get there on time, and what are your opportunities to prove you are a part of the leadership team?

1. Time yourself. Know how long it takes to make that drive at rush hour; always add 15 minutes at least, and if you get there early, bring work along to do.

2. Put your watch fast. Yes, I said it. Wear a watch and set it fast, so you don’t try to squeeze just one more email, one more text, one more call into the ••• hour you’ve got before the meeting.

3. Prep yourself at the end of the day for tomorrow’s meetings. You know what you need to do – be prepared. If your paperwork is done, make sure you have your clothes laid out, your lunch packed, and your questions ready.

You have the choice – you are the ONLY responsible for you. Sometimes, these types of stumbling blocks are exactly the issues you may want to discuss with someone to work out before you are closed out of a meeting; before you’re sent home for being late; before you mess up your reputation so bad, there’s no redemption in sight.

Be accountable. Be respectful. Be on time.

Kayte Connelly CCT, CPC, ELI-MP, Best Principled Solutions LLC, is an award-winning author, professional certified leadership coach, and organizational development consultant specializing in personal, workplace and community leadership. She facilitates corporate retreats and conversations with dissimilar parties and helps individuals and organizations identify and eliminate what stands between themselves and their goals. Enriched customized services are designed to create and sustain generations of leaders for our community and your company, based on research and global development. Call 484.769.2327 for more information on how your company could become more collaborative, flexible, imaginative, and innovative and/or to discover your leadership “edge.” @leadercoachKT