Nothing is more disrespectful than showing up late to a meeting. It is almost better to completely blow it off, at least then people can assume you had a scheduling conflict.
I know you know that it is disrespectful. I know you know that YOU hate waiting for the key decision maker to arrive. But the guy (or gal) that is waiting to get things started pending your arrival isn’t going to believe it. Not now.
If you need to be a few minutes late, call ahead. Send an email. Reschedule. And in the worse possible case (evidently, since it too rarely happens), give the team authority to make the decision – and support their outcome.
I was thinking about what that solution might be to this social tardiness – and was struck by this entry at the Life 2.0 blog entry – “Have no Small Meetings“. I think this is the root of it all: most meetings lack meaning. Why would anyone show up when meetings are a waste of time?
I have a few theories for those that aren’t interested in changing the way that meetings work, and just want to understand the apathy of it all. I call it the “Call for More Crap Meetings”:
- Any meeting is an excuse to get out of the daily rut and go intentionally ignore someone who has an agenda.
- The pretense of a meeting is a nice alternative to the water cooler to catch up with co-workers, behind close doors and away from management’s monitoring eyes.
- Participating in meetings is a social measure of how important you are – the more you are invited to attend, the higher your social value since everyone wants your opinion (and hopefully not your support in delivering tasks!).
- A meeting is a nice place to hide away from the normal demands of the business, and gain an appreciation for how mundane the tasks of your peers truly are. When you think your job is mindless and dull, it can be useful to hear how senseless the work of others might be.
So if you’re having crap meetings, don’t change a thing. It is probably pleasing someone.