- Professional Skills -
making meetings on time
by fergus mellon
It is your job to manage your time effectively and one of the things you need to manage is making your one-to-ones on time, making team meetings on time as well as any other meeting that is scheduled. I have worked at companies where my managers have been chronically late for meetings but they have still expected me to arrive on time to theirs.
This may seem like a double standard (and in fact it is!), but I do not get hung up on this and neither should you. Despite what you think about your manager being either lazy, incompetent, stupid or an asshole they are likely way busier than you. It is an unfortunate fact of life that managers in today's companies have far too much on and are trying to juggle between being focused on the long term and just dealing with the many day-to-day issues (and even a few crises!) that arise. Often their time is not their own. Yes, a good manager should use his or her employees' time well and by being late they are not necessarily doing their job well, but that is no excuse for being late yourself.
One of my many pet peeves as a manager is that when I am running from back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings I find that my team members are then late to our meetings. I am not kidding you, most of my day is taken up in discussions with either my own team or with other teams that I work with. The pet peeve comes from having to not just manage my own time but then to track down an employee and remind them that there is a team meeting or we have a one-to-one. I view this as another demand on my time as well as a negative reflection on the employee: I know that they have a far more open day than I do and so the fact that an employee cannot manage a light meeting calendar does make me question their organizational skills.
Instead of finding your manager's time keeping skills a peeve, here are a few ideas to make sure their lack of time keeping does not get in your way:
Still be on time: this will send a message to your manager that you own your time and that they need to be more respectful of yours. More importantly it will show that you are on top of things.
Shoot them an email: "I am in your office and ready when you are" or get up with your team members and head to your staff meeting on time (a minute or two early would be just fine too!)
Be super prepared: If your manager has too much on, make sure you know the three things you want from them in your meeting and just say "I know you are busy, to help speed this can we go through these important items" and then be prepared to schedule more time with them.
Ask them if they would prefer to meet at a different time: early on in the day could be a great solution as they are less likely to be backed up from prior meetings and are more likely to have a clearer head.
Set up another meeting: if you were unable to get everything you needed from your manager then I would recommend being proactive and adding another 15 minutes later on in the week to get time or if they have an assistant ask them to do this. The goal here is to help your manager and by helping them, they are very likely to be more able to help you.
Don't take up their bad habits: if your manager is struggling to keep up with all of his or her meetings, let that be their problem. Do not make it your problem by also taking up the bad habits. Keeping your day on track and moving efficiently will help mark you out as someone who has their act together.
Always look for tomorrow: Before heading home each evening, scan your calendar for the next day's meetings. This may seem elementary but I cannot count the number of times generally high performing employees miss an important, but early-scheduled meeting because they did not think about the next day. If you have the goal of being seen as a competent, aka organized employee, you will need to attend the meetings that may be scheduled earlier than normal. Check your calendar for the next day, every day. Note tomorrow's meetings and if necessary change your alarm clock to make that early start!
Next section: Business Presentations
Related columns on managing up: "Manager as Partner", "Mastering Your Manager", "Questions for Your Manager", "Secret Skills of Managing Up", "Your New Manager"
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