Strategies: It's Never Okay to Be Late

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Being on time is about honor and respect for those you work with, those you serve, and, more importantly, yourself. Lateness is not world class. Lateness is not professional. Lateness is living below the line.

I don't like being late. I prefer to be early for work, appointments and commitments. That's just how I'm wired. People that are habitually late are clearly wired differently. Some even take pride in their lateness, which is really nothing more than a feeble attempt get others to deal with their behavior and not hold them accountable.

If you're a member of the "on-time club," you probably can't wait to share this article with all the late people in your life. If you're a member of the "I'm late club," I hope the message in this article is heeded in the most no-compromise manner possible.

Here are some no-compromise thoughts on lateness:

  • It's not okay: You can have the most delightful and winning personality ever, but that doesn't give you the right to be late. Habitual lateness isn't cute. Habitual lateness is a blatant disregard for others. It's about taking advantage of other people's time and patience. No, it's not okay to be late.
  • It's stressful: I fly a lot. I like to get to the airport early so I don't have to rush. In stark contrast, I see late people frantically pushing through check-in and security lines to catch their flights. You can see the stress on their faces. Imagine starting every day having to rush around in order to avoid being late. There's enough stress in our lives already, so why inflict more stress on yourself or create stress for others that are forced to deal with your lateness?
  • One minute late is still late: A coaching client asked me if it's too rigid to hold an employee accountable for being one minute late. (The company policy is to send an employee home if they're late three times in a quarter.) My response was, "Late is late." If you tolerate someone being one minute late, would you tolerate someone being two minutes late as well? How about five minutes? Accountability isn't about handing out decks of "get out of jail free" cards to everyone—it's about shared trust, honor, respect and integrity. Late will always be late.
  • It's obvious: I've been teaching seminars and doing public speaking for years. You guessed it, I like to start on time. But there are always the stragglers that arrive late when everyone else was on time. It's also interesting to note that the same people tend to be late for class every day.
  • It's a choice: Lateness is a pattern of behavior. It's a choice. Everyone has an internal clock, but not everyone likes to use it. The next time that habitually late employee asks, "Where's my raise?" simply respond, "It's late." No compromise.

About: Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the professional beauty industry. Neil is a business trainer, coach, keynote speaker, an award-winning author, and the creator of the Team-Based Pay System. Neil is the author of Fast Forward, the definitive business resource book for salons and spas, and No-Compromise Leadership, winner of the 2010 IPPY Award for Business. Since 1993, Strategies has been transforming salon and spa businesses into dynamic, profitable, and sustainable team-based cultures. For more information on Neil and Strategies, go to