Do me a favor and take a whack at this math problem:
Number of people typically sitting around waiting for a meeting to start
X Number of minutes they typically wait
X Average labor cost per minute for people in the room
X Number of times a year that happens in your company
What did you come up with? Roughly speaking, the answer is a whole lot a money flushed right down the toilet.
I’ve had people explain to me that’s just the culture of their workplaces. That may be. But I hate waste and bet you do too. So do something about it. Here are three ideas to get you started.
Voice your concern
When everyone eventually does show up, begin the meeting by saying something like, “I’d like to spend a few moments talking about a concern I have. We regularly start our meetings late. This bothers me because it seems so wasteful. How do others feel about this?
Start the meeting on time even if everyone’s not present. If the leader is late, somebody else (i.e. YOU) should take the lead and start the meeting. You may figure out that there are things you can productively work on that do not require the missing people.
If you start, and they eventually do show up; make it their problem to get themselves up to speed. This approach shows them they are not indispensable.
Implement the “Five minute rule”
If after five minutes, anyone who is essential to the meeting is not present, get up and leave. This is especially effective if the late-comer is the one who called the meeting. Make it the late-comer’s problem to reconvene the meeting.
This can be a little dangerous if the boss called the meeting and is late. One way to lessen the risk is to decide as a group (one possible result of following my first suggestion) whether you want to have a five minute rule. That way if the group uses the rule, it won’t come as a surprise.
Image credit: jakeandlindsay