The best solution to chronic tardiness is to get in your time machine, go back and deal with it before you created the chronic tardiness behavior. I know that some of you are wondering how you created the behavior. Maybe you aren’t the boss who let the first few incidences of tardiness go unrecognized. Maybe you aren’t the boss who either didn’t know how or didn’t care enough to deal with the issue early. Maybe you inherited the issues from the bad boss that you replaced who created the problem by not holding the tardy person accountable.
We lead through activity and inactivity. The chronically tardy person was, at one time, tardy the first time and then tardy the second time and then a third. Whoever didn’t stop the behavior at its inception let the behavior become a habit. Now we have to break that habit. Let’s assume it’s not you, that you’ve inherited a chronic tardiness issue and you need to fix it. What approach do you take? The most straightforward is to simply tell the chronic tardy that the behavior needs to stop or they will be disciplined. This usually doesn’t work because the tardy person is simply hearing more of the same from management. I am sure someone has called them on the behavior repeatedly and didn’t follow through with actual discipline.
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The next approach, and a good one, for this and other chronic behaviors, is to address the issue as three problems. One is the impact of the tardiness problem on the employees and the organization, the second issue is a fairness problem and the third is a discrimination problem. I will break these issues down and then in the next article present a scripted role play of the first conversation to stop existing chronic tardiness.
First, let’s look at the impact of the chronic tardiness issue on the employee, his coworkers and the organization. The chronic tardiness means that the employee can’t be counted on. His team can’t count on him and neither can his boss and the organization. This means that he won’t be eligible for any kind of promotion and will be ostracized by his coworkers.
The organization’s effectiveness will be compromised because management can’t plan effectively when they can’t count on employees to show up on time. This especially makes estimating how long jobs will take and when they will be done-a must for project management-a tough proposition.
Next, the fairness issue. The greatest frustrations in my life, and those of my employees, have been when I could say with honesty, “This is unfair!” The tardy employee is not being held accountable while others are. This breeds discontent and hurts any team.
Lastly, with today’s diverse workforce, any fairness issue will probably affect a protected class. This means there will be the appearance of discrimination. And, in discrimination, appearance is reality.
Action Items/Activity Triggers.
- Understand that chronic tardiness has many negative affects.
- The employee is negatively affected because he can’t be trusted and will be ostracized and won’t be eligible for challenging roles or promotion.
- The organization can’t count on the individual so its ability to plan is negatively affected.
- Holding others accountable for showing up on time while not holding one employee accountable creates an unfair and bitter culture.
- In today’s diverse workplace, with so many protected classes, unfairness will frequently appear as discrimination. The appearance of discrimination, in many cases, is discrimination.