I recently got asked this the other day.  If you’re a business that needs to have your employees in at a certain time to be the face of your company to customers it will drive you crazy when someone consistently shows up 5-10 minutes late.  (Not to mention the annoyed co-worker who’s looking for their break, or the customer who can’t find someone to help them.)

So what do you do?

Here’s some common options and then I’ll give you mine:

1) Write them up and put it in their file – yippee.  Waste of paper and time from a change perspective.

2) Beg and plead or yell  that they show up on time, telling them how important it is to be responsible and be there for the team, and then be terribly disappointed that this doesn’t make a difference

3) Make them an example and fire them and potentially lose an employee who’s fabulous in every other aspect

4) Tell them about how when they want a raise, if they simply worked that extra 10 minutes a day (if paid hourly) they’d be making more money – surprisingly this doesn’t tend to work either

5) Reward employees who do show up on time (similar to concept of if police were to give good drivers rewards instead of bad drivers tickets would the roads be safer?) – crazy annoying because this should just be part of the basic agreement between an employee and employer

Suggestion numero 6 – my personal favorite in play by play fashion:

6) Look them in the eye and tell them how it makes you feel when they’re late.  Yes, I’m saying make it personal.  Because it is.  It personally impacts you, your other employees and your business.

  • You feel disrespected, like they’ve just spit in your face (pause for emphasis – this image is CRITICAL for the whole thing to work, because chances are the employee considers themselves good people and would never intend to do anything so awful)
  • And that they could give a damn about the impact it has on you, their coworkers and the customers.  DESCRIBE the negative impact in detail.
  • Then ask them how they would feel if you were consistently a day or two late with their paycheck, that you simply “just hadn’t gotten around to doing it” or “your car broke down” or “your alarm didn’t go off.”  You understand how important it is for them to get their paycheck on time to pay the rent, to pay bills and to feed their family.  You expect the same basic level of respect in return. 
  • And then ask them, “You can count on me for basic respect and a timely paycheck, can I count on you to arrive on time?”
  • If they hem and haw, then they will not arrive on time in the future and you will need to make a decision as to their real value to your team.
  • If they say yes, you’re golden.