Dear Meeting Guru,

"My boss is notoriously late for meetings and, subsequently, attendees have to repeat topics to accommodate her. Because of this, she monopolizes the entire meeting and our meetings often run late. But when someone else is late she gets upset. Can you help?"

Sara, Scotland

Blessed Meeter,

Correcting bad meeting behavior is a touchy task, especially when the offender is your boss or an executive within your company.

Try taking an indirect approach first. When you organize a meeting, send an e-mail to all the attendees asking them to make an effort to arrive on time. Give reasons for your request: for example, you could mention that everyone is busy and may have projects to work on or appointments scheduled after the meeting, so you’d like to finish on time to accommodate them.

You could also add a sentence explaining that you won’t rehash what’s already been discussed for latecomers because you want to save time and keep the meeting on track. This could be a simple reminder that you add to the end of all your meeting invitations.

If the problem persists, speak with your boss directly. Your conversation doesn’t have to be confrontational. Simply mention that you’ve noticed that she’s been late for a few meetings and you wonder if the meeting times you’ve arranged are inconvenient for her. Explain that you’re approaching her about this because you know how important promptness is to her.

As Canadian judge and author Thomas C. Haliburton once said, “Punctuality is the soul of business.” Without punctuality we’re left with missed deadlines, unproductive meetings and a reduction in the amount of credibility people instill in us. It may be difficult to approach your boss, but taking the time to correct the problem will make your meetings more effective in the long run.

Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.



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