One rule that I have about meetings is it should start on time so it can end on time. We all know that is easier said than done. If you have a daily stand-up meeting, which is timeboxed at 5 to 15 minutes, you can not afford to have people showing up late. They need to show up on time.
But what if there is that one person on the team who does show up late… every… meeting? Do you punish him or her? Let’s make them pay a dollar every time they are late. Do you think that is a good idea or a bad idea? Have you tried it? I have. It surprised me when it didn’t change that person’s behavior. If anything, it just ensured they would be late. Why?
By paying me the dollar, that person no longer felt obligated to arrive on time. Everyone else, while still adhering to the culture of acceptable behavior, arrived on time. Everyone else on the team, felt equally obligated to arrive on time because I was on time. They felt that they owed it to me to be there on time.
So, how do you correct this negative behavior? I like to zone in on something that makes the violator uncomfortable. I’ve made them sing. I’ve made them dance. I’ve stopped the meeting when they’ve arrived late and then made them go from person to person on the team and say “I’m sorry for wasting your time”. This may sound a little over-the-top but they slighted everyone on my team. Everyone else was there on time; they should be as well.
I’m including a link to a TED video with Clay Shirky. You don’t need to watch the whole thing. What 4 minutes starting at 6 minutes 50 seconds. He mentions the study A Fine Is A Price by Uri Gneezy and Alfredo Rstichini in 2000. It is exactly what I’m talking about. It defined the difference between social constraints versus contractual constraints. Nothing like a research study to spice up the next meeting.