Deal With Chronic Tardiness: Sample Coaching Conversation

In a recent article we talked about the affects of chronic tardiness.  In this article I will present a scripted conversation of the first attempt to coach a situation where there is existing chronic tardiness.

The two parties are John, the boss, and Joe, the chronically tardy employee.

John: Joe, step into my office for a minute. 

Joe: Sure, John, it’s not about the tardiness thing again is it?

John: Yep

Joe: John, I went round and round with my old boss, Gary.  I do all my work, more than most, so it’s not really an issue.

John: I’m afraid it is an issue, and important one.  Let me explain.  I know that you are now in the habit of being tardy.  By my reckoning you have been more than five minutes late six times in the last ten days.

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Joe: Yes, I’m sure you are right, John, but who cares?

John: Here are the issues.  We have company policy that says people will be here on time.  Every hourly employee, which you would be, has set work hours and must be at work during those hours.  When we make an exception for you, your coworkers must adjust their workflow to match yours.  Do you understand that?

Joe: Yeah, I guess, but its only five minutes to a half hour, not big deal right?

John: If the only problem was your coworkers having to make allowances for you, that would be bad enough. I’m afraid it get’s worse    It is a fairness issue.  We hold everyone except four people in the organization accountable to be here on time.  I am addressing this issue with you and the other three people are having the same chat with their bosses. In this case unfairness equals discrimination.  We aren’t holding you accountable and we are holding other people accountable. Because we are such a diverse organization this puts us at risk for a discrimination law suit.  Do you understand?  

Joe: What, discrimination, because I’m being given a little leeway.  That’s crazy!

John: It’s the law. Because this behavior was allowed for a long time in the past, and it’s become a habit, we don’t expect you to fix it overnight.  Here is your action plan to fix your tardiness problem.  You will cut your tardiness down to once a week for the next two weeks, then once in two weeks, then once a month, which will bring you to company standard-which is very, very forgiving. Now, how can I help you achieve this?  I have to tell you, we will not put ourselves at risk of a lawsuit because you refuse to get to work on time. 

Action Items/Activity Triggers

  1. Deal with the issue in the future by holding all people accountable right away for any tardy behavior
  2. Try simply telling the person to stop the tardiness now
  3. Communicate how the tardy behavior affects coworkers
  4. Communicate how the tardy behavior is unfair because some are held accountable while others are not.
  5. Communicate that lack of fairness about tardiness, in many cases, equals discrimination

About jcameron

People don't avoid tough conversations or tough actions because they are stupid or or lazy or don't care. People don't take on the tough things because they aren't confident and comfortable with a process to take them on. Confidence builds courage and courage leads to action. Through consulting, speaking, training and resources, using humor and great process, John Cameron helps teams and leaders own the skills, the plan and the courage to do what they must do to increase the wealth of their clients, themselves and their organizations. Before he became an energetic and powerful speaker and trainer, John Cameron was a proud member of the 1st of the 509th Airborne Battalion Combat team. After military service, he earned a business degree and worked as a stockbroker in Carmel and Sacramento, California.  John moved into the advertising field, leading his growing sales teams to 37 uninterrupted quarters of growth. During three of those quarters he was project manager during replacement of a legacy advertising system. While managing the project he led his team to double digit growth and found savings of $750K a year-without sacrificing people! When he became a speaker and trainer, John already possessed a wealth of life and workplace experiences to draw upon for his presentations. Add to this John's experience as a top trainer for major national training orgainizations and the result is consulting, training and speaking filled with strategies and techniques that have been tested and proven to work in the real world.
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