Leadership Update is a free electronic monthly newsletter. In it, you’ll find strategies for helping you realize your full professional potential.
- Quotable: The Pundits Speak
- Chronic Lateness: Seeking a Cure
- Casual-Dress Policies: Are We Too Relaxed?
- Readers’ Forum: Your Observations
- Subscription Information
QUOTABLE: THE PUNDITS SPEAK
“Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus
“The older generation thought nothing of getting up at five in the morning – and the younger generation doesn’t think much of it either.” – John J. Welsh
Chronic Lateness: Seeking a Cure
A sales representative at a radio station says she can’t help doing it. A group of police officers in Newark, NJ got in trouble for it recently. And professional basketball player Allen Iverson does it so often it’s reported in the media.
It’s arriving late to work.
Company policies regarding when the workday starts vary widely, and so do the penalties for coming in late. But one thing is consistent: Chronically late employees can’t seem to get to work on time no matter when the workday officially starts.
There’s no common reason for chronic lateness, which is why it’s such a difficult problem to solve. For some people, their chronic lateness is a function of disorganization. Without a well-planned schedule, they get behind easily and have difficulty keeping up throughout the day, not just at the beginning. For others, lateness is an indirect way of defying authority. It’s as if they’re saying, “You can’t tell me when I have to be there… your rules don’t apply to me.”
And many people simply do not place the same value as their employers do on starting the workday at a particular time … they emphasize the quality of their work over when they start doing it. If you place a high value on the prompt arrival of employees at a specified starting time, you may find yourself struggling with chronically late employees. This struggle becomes even more difficult when the employee is valuable to the company, or seemingly indispensable.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Make sure you’ve explicitly identified promptness as a core company value. If it’s truly a core value, then employees who don’t share that value aren’t a good fit for your firm.
- Mention this value in recruitment materials. Look for it in prospective employees by noting whether or not they were on time for interviews or testing. Inquire about it when doing reference checks.
- Establish a clear corporate policy, review it with an attorney and apply it consistently. Employees notice when others receive special treatment, especially related to starting times.
- Create a flextime policy to account for the role that traffic patterns and family responsibilities play in arrival times. Be prepared, though … chronically late employees have difficulty committing to a starting time regardless of when it is.
- If an employee shares the basic value of promptness but seems incapable of arriving on time, make sure you fully understand the reasons for the lateness. Problems like poor time-management can often be helped through a coaching process.
If you’re having problems with chronically late employees, whether they’re sales reps or shooting guards, call me at 610/642-3040 for a free consultation.
Casual-Dress Policies: Are We Too Relaxed?
A recent article in The Boston Globe reports that the recent trend of extending “casual Fridays” throughout the week, particularly during the summer and even beyond, is encountering a backlash at all levels of corporate America. From entry-level employees trying to make a mark to professionals who regard suits and ties as essential, the issue of dressing down is heating up.
One area of concern is the casual behavior that can accompany casual attire. In a national study by Jackson Lewis, a New York employment law firm, 44 percent of companies that allow casual wear at least one day a week reported an increase in lateness and absenteeism. And flirtatious behavior increased 30 percent at the same firms, according to the study.
While the trend towards casual dress at work reportedly began when Silicon Valley computer entrepreneurs went to work in jeans and t-shirts, most companies don’t allow quite that level of informality. Firms I’ve consulted with have had to establish fairly specific guidelines, including bans on sandals, t-shirts with emblems or logos, ripped jeans, stretch pants and other items.
How pervasive are casual dress days? In 1992, only 24 percent of companies offered at least one day of casual dress, according to research cited in The Globe article by the Society for Human Resource Management. In 1999, approximately 95 percent of companies surveyed had a casual day policy, dipping to 87 percent this year. No reason was given for the decline.
If you’re establishing or revising your dress code, consider both sides of casual dress. While it can promote greater personal comfort and a relaxed environment, it can also create confusion about what’s appropriate to wear for specific situations (like client meetings or presentations). And if you believe the results of the Jackson Lewis study, casual dress may lead to a more relaxed attitude in areas where it’s not desired.
READERS’ FORUM: YOUR OBSERVATIONS
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Copyright 2000-2002 by Dr. David A. Weiman. All rights reserved.