startups and code

Be Punctual - a startup series (part 2/6)

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Being punctual is key to many things in life. I have interviewed and been interviewed hundreds of times (ok, it just seems like that but it is probably close to around a hundred). I am going to tell a few of stories of punctuality (or lack thereof).

First Example: I get everything ready, conference room booked, team scheduled to meet, questions and coding challenges ready. They should be in here any minute... 15 minutes later... I contact the recruiter, "Hey, any word on the candidate?" "Oh, he's not there? Let me try to reach him". 15 more minutes... "We can't find him, I have no idea what happened, this isn't like him". A follow-up on that... still don't know what happened to him, can only assume he was no longer interested. Who knows.

Second Example: 10 minutes after the interview is scheduled. "Hey, this is (X) are we still meeting today?". I reply, "Yes, I have the room ready, are you close?" "I'd like to reschedule, I have some work stuff I need to finish up." "Ok, I'll let the recruiter know and we can try this again."

Yes, I was the patient and forgiving... but wait it gets better... So I reschedule, plan for him to come in... and no-call, no-show.

I can go on with interview candidates of punctuality examples, but let me mention some other situations.

Third Example: "Hey, are you going to the all-hands meeting at 10?" "Nah, I may swing by around 11 to see if any food is served, are you going?" "Yes, I plan to get there a little early to see what is going on." "Oh, cool, let me know if anything important happens"

What is the truth is, I've been both of those people in the third example. What I have learned is that meetings can be very valuable, if everyone requested is actually needed. When people are late to meetings, to calls, to interviews, it is often interpreted as their time is more important than your time. It sets a bad example for new employees, and often creates apathy in the workplace when meetings are actually valuable.

Let me caveat that by saying, most meetings in companies are poorly planned, invite too many people, and rarely accomplish anything. However, by creating valuable meetings, and having people attend them on time and they end ON TIME then people will become more involved when meetings are scheduled. If you are in meetings for 3 or more hours a day, you should reconsider what each of those meetings are, what the actual agenda is and why are they so long?

I do my best to attend meetings on time. I generally give a 5 minute grace-period, but punctual is early.

If you are on-time, you are late. 5 minutes early is on-time

I had a friend that everyone knew would be late, what did that create, a special time schedule. He was told to that a party was at 6pm that started at 8pm. Why? Because he would be perhaps 15 minutes early then. By us changing the schedule for him, it was rude to everyone else. He was consider flaky, and unreliable.

Being punctual creates a sense of mutual-respect, a level of commitment, a sense of pride, and makes the other's involved feel that they are valued.

Value others. Be Punctual. Respect other's time. Be Punctual. Create a reputation of reliability. Be Punctual.

A few lessons from this post -

  • Obviously, be punctual, it actually matters.
  • Cancel unnecessary meetings - being busy doesn't make you important, it just makes you busy
  • Invite only people that need to be there - smaller meetings deliver quicker results
  • All-Hands meetings can usually be delivered by email... However, praise in public IF THE PERSON WOULD RECEIVE IT

A quick note on that last bullet - some people HATE being brought up and praised in front of others, it terrifies them. Just because you like the center of attention and praise, doesn't mean everyone else in the world does, a kind word and a simple thank you may often be received much better.

Thanks for stopping by, now go create something amazing! :-)

Part 3 coming soon.