I’m the boss who’s always late

A reader writes:

I’m part of the senior management of a small company I’ve been with for several years. While I’ve consistently been a stellar performer, I do have one major flaw — I am always late. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening. I am what you’d call a “crammer” — I’m always trying to fit in “one more thing” before heading to the next event and, as a result, I am late in the mornings, late to meetings, etc. I regularly work 70+ hours per week, which I feel should earn me some flexibility, but I know that my tardiness causes some feelings of resentment among some members of the staff.

I know myself and I have never been an early bird. I make attempts to do be on time/early, but they are generally short-lived. Plus, truth be told, I feel like I’ve earned some flexibility given my level of productivity and performance. Yet I don’t want to continue to foster a feeling of discord among the team. Any advice?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 367 comments… read them below }

  1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Your bad habit isn’t going to improve until you change your dysfunctional, entitled mindset. Your time isn’t more important than everyone else’s just because you work longer hours. If you truly care about your team’s perception of your professionalism and credibility, then making the effort to be more mindful is worth it.

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      Yeah. This is “my time is more valuable than yours”, the letter.

      Set all your schedule reminders a half hour early. Problem solved.

      1. Irianamistifi*

        love your user name!

        I think 30 minutes might be too long in advance. If OP is constantly trying to cram in ‘one more thing’, 30 minutes might be too much time that feels like it should be filled. A better option might be a series of alarms or timers. 10 minute warning, 7 minutes left, 5 minutes to go, 2 minutes, 0 minutes time to go.

        yeah, it’s annoying as hell to set up, but with phone assistants, you could probably create a shortcut and make this part of a constant routine.

    2. JPalmer*


      This LW is a very selfish person, prioritizing their needs at the cost of everyone else.

      That they describe themselves as a high performer tells me that they’re sucking productivity from others.

      It’s fine to want to get more done and to be motivated about it, but when you are a wrecking ball to everyone else’s schedules in the process, that’s just a bad system that isn’t tracking or recognizing how obstructing you are to smooth working.

      LW is clearly not ‘efficient’. Smart folks are good at estimating how long tasks and activities take.

      1. Katie A*

        Being good at time estimates is not a characteristic of intelligence in general. Plenty of otherwise smart people are bad at estimating how long things take, whether bc they’re neurodivergent (pretty common ND trait tbh) or just lack the skill (because it is a skill), but that doesn’t make them unintelligent.

        The important thing is recognizing you’re bad at that and putting in extra work or purposefully adding time to your estimates so you’re not negatively impacting other people.

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Cosigned. I was going to let the hostility slide until that last sentence. Time blindness is a common trait of neurospicy people, and it doesn’t stop us from being incredibly intelligent in other ways. The solution is to recognize the problem and find a way to correct it, not to call people stupid for having a blind spot.

          (And yes, I realize LW is dropping the ball on the correction part, so hopefully they take Alison’s words to heart.)

        2. JPalmer*

          Smart probably wasn’t the right word to pick.

          Competent/professional is probably a better pick.

      2. Jackalope*

        This is 100% not true. Does the OP need to fix this? Yes. Is it true that being unable to estimate the length of time needed for an activity means you’re stupid? Absolutely not. There are plenty of reasons that someone might have an issue with that and still be perfectly smart.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        I have two children with above-average intelligence and below-average executive functioning skills (which is what task planning and time estimation comes from). We have them working with a coach, provide graphic organizers to break down larger projects (like read this book and do this project this semester), and utilize task lists and calendar reminders to try to build systems to accommodate these deficiencies before they hit college/the workforce.

        This is absolutely a hot button issue for me, but telling them that “smart folk” know how to do this (which insinuates they are NOT smart) or that their deficiencies are some sort of moral failing do not help solve the problem at all. It is hard enough to not have skills that people seem to think are natural or innate, but to then be told that not having them makes you less-than or dumb makes it even harder.

      4. Reebee*

        “This LW is a very selfish person.” Personally attacks simply aren’t necessary.

        1. JPalmer*

          They describe this as a major flaw.

          They have known about this problem for a while and have not done more than ‘short lived attempts’.

          The line that speaks selfish to me is “Plus, truth be told, I feel like I’ve earned some flexibility given my level of productivity and performance”.
          It says”Eh, this problem isn’t really necessary to solve, I dont mind making other people wait” and that’s most probably selfishness and not recognizing their ‘performance’ is likely coming at the cost of making other people less performant.

          1. Workisblerghoramazing*

            I’m just gonna comment as someone who has massive issues with all kinds of executive function stuff.

            1. It is damn near impossible for me to be perfect at this, and that’s probably the case for the LW as well. Especially if the LW is a busy person that other people demand a lot of time from.

            2. No amount of shaming and expressing your values to me or the LW will make us perfect.

            3. The LW probably enables a lot of things for other people and feels that that deserves a little kindness and grace.

            I can see here that a lot of people — probably neurotypical and/or people with better control over their time — think this is a moral failing and a choice. I assure you it isn’t, and thinking about it as such is not helping that person please you better.

            1. rhymeswithmonet*

              Commenting also as someone with executive functioning issues that have massively (negatively) impacted my life..

              I actually find shame to be helpful. Toxic shame obviously is no good, and harmful, but healthy shame is a function of conscience, particularly in relation to empathy. Healthy shame says something like “Oh wow, I see how my actions have impacted others negatively, and I feel terrible about that. I’ll try my best to do better going forward.”

              “Shaming” people, in the way you’re meaning it, seems to be the social version of that – a way of lifting up the harm that’s (unwittingly) being done.

              Having terrible executive functioning and time blindness etc isn’t a moral failing; however, being blasé and uncaring or flippant about how that impacts other people, arguably is. Describing or explaining the impact of that isn’t shaming, in the negative way you mean.

              1. Adds*

                I think the word you’re looking for is guilt. Guilt can be useful and productive and is what helps us do better next time when we’ve done something wrong. Shame is the opposite of all of that and it intends to beat you down and keep you there.

                Guilt is “You made a mess” and shame is “you are a mess.”

                In this instance, OP here should feel guilty for the behavior. It’s inconsiderate. They know it’s negative behavior and now they need to take the next step and develop some kind of system, that they can keep up with to the point of permanency, to help solve the problem.

        2. Just another manic Monday ...or Tuesday....or Wednesday*

          I agree, I moved on from that comment as soon as I read the first line.

      5. Pickwick*

        I’d be tempted to cut some slack for anyone at any level of the organization who’s putting in 70-hour weeks but coming in late. That burns you out and makes your body and brain hurt.

    3. Dinwar*

      This is wildly unfair and hostile. If this were anyone NOT in management you’d be asking “Does your work really need you to show up early?” and “Does your role allow for flexibility?” Why are mangers not allowed that same grace?

      1. WorkerDrone*

        I don’t think this is true at all.

        First of all, if other are directly impacted by a non-manager being late to work, then obviously work really DOES need them to show up on time and the role does NOT allow for flexibility. So there isn’t any grace there to allow anyone, regardless of role.

        But second of all, your response doesn’t make sense anyways because no one is criticizing OP for being late in the morning.

        OP is being criticized for being late *to meetings*. That’s an absolutely different context. No one gets grace for showing up late to meetings all the time, manager or not, because it’s a disrespectful thing to do to your colleagues.

      2. HotSauce*

        Because managers are supposed to be a model for their employees. If someone on my team was regularly late to work, late to meetings, etc. I would be having a conversation with them. There’s flexibility and then there’s just a total disregard for everyone else’s time.

        1. Not All Managers*

          I have so many potential questions I’d love to ask either Alison or in the open threads. But every time I draft a post I pull back because I can just see the pile on about how I, as a manager, should be actively working to change every organizational dysfunction and Make Things Better. Heck, even some of Alison’s advice to managers can be pretty unrealistic and doesn’t always take into account the realities of life as a middle manager.

          1. Rainy*

            Do you not think that as a manager you should be actively working to make things better?

            1. Properlike*

              Do you think every manager has the power to “make things better?”

              I’m not in management, but I don’t. It’s unrealistic. Mostly, from this website I’ve learned it’s the job of a good manager to actually manage, as effectively as possible, and doing right by the people you manage whenever possible.

              1. I can read anything except the room*

                Yeah, I’m a solidly middle management. I have 2 mid-career ICs reporting in to me, and our department head is my boss’s boss’s boss. The head of the company is her boss’s boss’s boss. With systemic issues, I weigh in wherever I can, but my weight barely registers on the scale.

                What I can do for my reports is ensure they have reasonable workloads, give them opportunities to grow and try new things, and do my best to insulate them from the effects of the things above my head that I can’t actually change. There are a lot of staff in my department who are junior to me, and who I work closely with, but they don’t report to me, so there’s much less I can do for them despite being a senior manager.

                1. Liv*

                  Your second paragraph perfectly captures how I see my role. There are only a couple of layers of management between me and the top, but those at the top have lifetime appointments; I may have some influence (on a good day) but have zero ability to change anything. For the people I manage, I see myself an umbrella shielding them from whatever may be raining down while giving them room to grow.

              2. Rainy*

                I don’t think every manager has the power to eliminate systemic issues. I think every manager has the responsibility to do their best to make it possible for their employees to do their best work, and people typically do their best work when their working conditions are good.

                If you are a manager and the working conditions for your employees are bad, yeah, I think you should be actively working to improve that. Can you fix everything? Almost certainly not. But if you aren’t even trying, your employees notice.

            2. Alienor*

              At least in my company, there’s nothing anyone below director level can do about systemic issues, and even the directors struggle to actually change anything. As a manager, I can help with my team’s workloads, offer them flexibility where possible, give them opportunities to get training or participate in new experiences, and provide encouragement, feedback, and a safe place to vent. That’s it.

          2. Oregonbird*

            If the truth might hurt, run from the discussion?

            Idk, I’m pretty sure that taking the letter out of drafts and sending it along won’t be as harmful to a brave manager as refusing to ask for advice (because feelings) will be to those being mismanaged.


        2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          The hate is for bad managers. Which is fair.

          “I feel entitled to be consistently late and waste everyone else’s time, even though I know it’s wrong and it’s negatively affecting my reputation” is bad management. If you feel you can rebut that, please do.

        3. Reebee*

          Yep. I didn’t even bother to read the last half on this particular; everyone is piling on this LW. So much for forum rules.

        4. Spencer Hastings*

          Yeah, it’s almost like company hierarchies exist for a reason, or something. These are internal meetings, right? Yeah, I wouldn’t be mad at my manager for that.

      3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I think these comments are replying to OP’s letter overlooking/ignoring this very issue.
        I don’t think it’s about holding a manager to higher standard; I think it’s about the very real problems that arise when a decision maker is not available at an agreed time to keep things on track.
        The criticism is that making up the time by working at 10 PM doesn’t help the junior staff meet deadlines at 10 AM.
        If OP is not derailing people lower in the hierarchy, rock on. But if OP is trying to justify making people wait over “one more email,” that’s a problem.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s about the very real problems that arise when a decision maker is not available at an agreed time to keep things on track.
          This. If other people’s work can’t move forward without your input, then regularly being the bottleneck that freezes everything around you is going to affect morale.

          1. Jess*

            Also, if the reason is because your org requires you to sign off on every move in triplicate, run that up the chain! why did you go into management? if you are the only one allowed to speak upwards, then telling everyone below sorry, that’s just how it is means you are ineffectual in your role x2 including bringing members of your peer group together to effect organizational change.

        2. Reebee*

          …and they’re calling the LW “selfish” and “asshole” in the process. That’s what this is devolving into: personal insults as a means of “advising.”

          It gives this blog a really bad reputation.

          1. Anon for this*

            OP’s attitude IS selfish, though. They said it themself, they think that since they’re high enough in the hierarchy, they deserve to show up late, and if it negatively impacts anyone else, too bad. This attitude is objectively selfish. It means anyone who has to attend meetings with OP is constantly stuck waiting on OP to show up before they can get things done, thus restricting their ability to be productive because instead of doing their own things, they’re waiting on OP, unable to start anything new because they don’t know if OP will be five, ten, or twenty minutes late this time.

        3. Pickwick*

          I was surprised by the level of hostility in other parts of this thread, but this criticism seems fair to me.

      4. AngryOctopus*

        Grace is for people who are “late” to work, but not affecting other people, and who get their work done. A manager who is late to a meeting but sends a message that says “the board meeting is running over/an investor meeting just got put on my calendar for this time/I’m stuck in the worst traffic I’ve ever seen” and asks you to proceed without them gets grace. This person routinely is late for meetings with others, affecting their time, and not caring about it. As Alison says, flexibility is for YOUR schedule, not for you to be late to meet with others all the time. I’ll add that grace is for people who care that they are affecting others when they’re late.

        1. pope suburban*

          Exactly. Flexibility is for things that don’t impact others’ ability to do their jobs. If a senior employee or a high performer wants to come in late or work nights, and it doesn’t hold up anyone else, great. If it does, though, then they’re damaging relationships and boosting their productivity at the expense of their teammates. That’s different and crappy.

        2. Dust Bunny*


          I will absolutely forgive my supervisors for being late or last-minute canceling specifically because they don’t do it all the time and I know they wouldn’t unless they couldn’t help it. You get the respect you earn.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          Grace is for people who care that they are affecting others when they’re late.

          The grace granted you is usually directly proportional to how hard you are trying not to need any.

      5. BeachGlue*

        Agree. Look at the letter below this one on the blog about the restaurant where you get written up if you call out at the last minute more than 3 times in a 30 day period. People are OUTRAGED that any job would be this inflexible, and claiming how impossible this would be for them, because they have multiple times a week when they randomly can’t show up for work (I want their jobs, I guess?)

        But a manager clearly has some executive function issues and so they’re the worst person ever to work.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          Calling out due to illness is not remotely the same thing as being habitually late to meetings because you can’t manage your time.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          These are not at all the same thing. This person is not late sometimes due to a run of illness/sick kids/fenderbender. They are habitually late and cavalier with their employees’ time.

        3. BeachGlue*

          I think it’s really… generous?… to think that the restaurant employee who was calling out at the last minute 20% of the time for multiple months was actually sick every one of those times…

          1. Kevin Sours*

            You are reading something into that letter that isn’t there. The comment was simply that getting written up for getting sick three times in a month was a trifle harsh.

            1. BeachGlue*

              No, there are like a hundred comments of people saying that they would NEVER be able to handle a job like that because they are always sick, taking care of children, and have other things to do.

          2. Jo-Maroon*

            I have a chronic illness and have been sick 100 percent of the time for years, so this doesn’t seem unbelievable.

            1. BeachGlue*

              If those are the limitations of the person being written about in that letter, then I would suggest that a restaurant job, where showing up is a major part of the job expectation, is not for them.

      6. NAM*

        If LW talked about having time management issues and just being too busy as the reasons they are late, I would agree with you. But they literally write that they think they’ve earned the right to be late. They know they’re going to be late and choose to continue adding something else to take up their time. So they’re actually saying (and acting like) they think they deserve to have people wait on them. That’s wildly entitled.

        1. Workisblerghoramazing*

          I’ll just throw myself out here for pummeling, as a neurodiverse person in management who has been HR disciplined for this very issue.

          1. Managers are chronically overscheduled. In fact, sometimes we are scheduled to pop into meetings that we’re only in portions of. This makes me feel like a jerk, personally, but I do it because I have to. And because it’s an expectation of my job.
          2. We also get dragged into meetings we didn’t even schedule. And sometimes called to attend meetings we can’t bail on, even if they go over. Because we are responsible for certain outcomes.
          3. Some of us are humans who have the issues that the LW mentions, of being bad with time and bad at predicting if the way-too-many meetings that we have in a day will take 4 hours or 6. What happens if I’m having a routine meeting as scheduled that suddenly becomes not-at-all routine? What if I’m having a serious conversation and it requires more time than estimated?

          TLDR: a lot of these comments come from people who don’t appear to know what it’s actually like to manage.

          1. Oregonbird*

            Your situation requires grace because you’re being run off your feet – please be good to yourself! The 0P chooses, day after day and hour after hour, to add to his tasks himself, *knowing* it will make him late. He thinks he deserves the flexibility and to be given grace, because he’s that awesome.

            You can see the two situations are very different.

          2. allathian*

            Not the same thing. Overscheduled managers who communicate well and are sorry that they waste other people’s time get the grace that this entitled LW doesn’t deserve.

            That said, our meeting culture improved considerably when we got a new Big Boss who said that there are absolutely no excuses, ever, for meetings running overtime on his watch. If absolutely necessary, we schedule another meeting, but usually the discussion simply continues in the Teams meeting chat afterwards. He’s also said that people are free to turn down meetings without agendas that are sometimes sent by separate email if there’s a reason not to put them on the calendar.

            Even my grandboss (VP level) who previously was pretty much always running late to everything has learned to do better on our departmental meetings.

            It has to be said, though, that this is also at least partly cultural. In some cultures (including the Hollywood movie industry) people show their authority/power by being late and big bosses/stars are expected to be late. But I get the sense that this has become less common in many other industries simply because intentionally wasting people’s time regardless of their position on the org chart is inefficient, and they care more about the bottom line than unproductive authority displays.

      7. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

        Yeah, no. I’d be giving the same advice to anyone who asked this question from the standpoint of “my long hours mean I’m entitled to blow up everyone else’s day on a regular basis.”

        I tend to be less sympathetic to people with time management issues anyway, especially when they acknowledge that they know what the underlying cause is and just choose not to address it. Flexibility is not the same thing and you know it.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, if you tell me you’re always late because you have to cram one more thing in, I’m not thinking, Oh, you’re so efficient. I’m thinking, you need to stop f-ing doing that and making everyone else’s day worse. You know what the problem is, you’re just self-centered.

      8. Artemesia*

        This guy stands up whole meetings of his subordinates who are left sitting around waiting for him to show. of course he can have a flexible schedule in which he doesn’t arrive at the office till 10 because he works till 8 or whatever and can. make that clear. But to stand up appointments or not show on time for meetings affects other people and is boorish and entitled behavior and rightfully earns him contempt.

        As Alison notes there can be emergency situations e.g. a big donor meeting runs over or you are being interviewed for the local news hour unexpectedly. But to continue to stand people up or inconvenience people because you had better things to do is unprofessional jerky behavior.

      9. Observer*

        If this were anyone NOT in management you’d be asking “Does your work really need you to show up early?” and “Does your role allow for flexibility?”

        Not in this context!

        This comes up a lot, when time requirements are discussed. For instance, every time Allison talks about how employers should not make a big deal about people being a few minutes late, she ALWAYS has a caveat about situations where others are affected, such as coverage based positions of where a lot of work requires multiple people working together.

        *This* is a classic situation where the person’s timeliness matters. Getting to an email five minutes earlier or later? Clocking in at 9:00 vs 9:06? No big deal. But repeatedly and consistently wasting the time of multiple other people? No, that IS a problem and it’s a problem whether you are a manager or a line worker or something in between.

      10. Sharon*

        The difference here is that OP is late for meetings — and presumably being senior management, OP has some say over when these meetings occur or whether it’s important for OP to attend. So either reschedule them at a more convenient time, delegate them to somebody else, or ask people to get feedback a different way – don’t let them schedule time with you and then not show up.

      11. Glen*

        “does your work really need you to show up early?” isn’t a response to “I am always late”, that’s a bizarre thing to say. LW isn’t “not early”, they’re late, and specifically late in ways that negatively impact their colleagues.

        Also, if you actually find the scenario you’re describing, I would love to see it. I have seen people who write in about *other people’s* lateness get that response, but not anyone who’s written in about their own – management or not.

      12. e271828*

        Persistently showing up late to meetings, this “manager” is wasting everyone else’s time and lowering their productivity.

        I put “manager” in quotes because I doubt the managerial competence of anyone who is so determined to negatively affect every other employee around them.

        1. KatCardigans*

          Damn, the comments are mean today. This just seems so over the top, especially about somebody who cared enough to write in for an opinion.

    4. Kara*

      I’d advise a different idea first. Go to a psychologist and get evaluated. Turned out my chronic lateness was due to ADHD (more specifically: the time blindness that comes with it). You might well be 100% absolutely solid neurotypical, but i sure as heck didn’t expect to score high on the ADHD evaluation test that day! If you don’t test high, then proceed on to ‘no more just one more thing!’.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah it sounds like the OP should at least look into some sort of professional help, even if it’s not ADHD or similar, they keep trying to do the same thing and it’s not working, so it’s time to try something ELSE.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        We’re not supposed to diagnose, but the sort of techniques that work for the time-blindness associated with ADHD may be helpful here as well, regardless of the cause. The “just one more thing” in particular often shows up with time blindness – the meeting doesn’t start until 2, it’s 1:50 now, I can do this one more thing because it’s not 2 yet….

        1. Orv*

          Yeah, for me it’s either “I still have 10 minutes, I can cram one more thing in” or “I’ve been sitting here doing nothing for 30 minutes because I’m afraid I’ll be late if I start something.”

      3. Orv*

        None of the ADHD people I know seem to have had their time blindness improved by therapy or meds. Their focus, yes, but not their time blindness. My main issue is time blindness and I’m reluctant to go to the trouble of getting diagnosed when it doesn’t seem like it will make any difference.

    5. PotatoRock*

      I mean, when you’re senior in a company, your time literally is more valuable. Not you as a human being are more valuable but because a) you’re paid more or b) the impact on the business of the /other/ things you’re doing (or not doing) is higher

      A good way to balance those two is: if you have to “waste” someone’s work time, make sure you aren’t wasting their personal time to make up for it. So eg. if you’re team has sit around waiting for you, think of that as a cost of doing business – and don’t expect them to work overtime to make up for it

      1. Person from the Resume*

        The problem with this justification is that the LW admits they try to cram one more task into the time before a meeting. There’s not hint that these tasks are time sensitive, urgent, super important, or more valuable than the time of people that are sitting in the meeting waiting.

        Being a crammer means the LW would rather have an entire meeting wait for them than they be a few minutes early where might have to wait.

        1. Ashley*

          If I am pulling 70 hours a week I would prefer to cram in one more thing then waste a few minutes waiting on a meeting. Now, who is in the meeting is important in regard to this… and is the meeting down the hall or am I driving off site for it.
          But a middle manager who is working hours like this should have some type of assistant that can remind them they need to head out for the big important meetings. Should they have to, that can be argued, but if it makes everyone have a better work flow ime it is worth reminding the boss to go to the meeting. (Oddly the times I am least likely to remind the boss to go to a meeting is if it is an internal meeting with their bosses and I want their bosses to see what the rest of us deal with.)

          1. Some Words*

            The problem isn’t that they need reminding about meetings. This person knows exactly when the meetings begin. It sounds like they’re choosing to be late as a very strange flex on how valuable and hard working they are in comparison to their colleagues. They admit it’s making people frustrated & angry.

            They know it’s rude. They know it’s entitled. They know it’s upsetting people. They want to know how they can continue this behavior without consequences.

          2. porridge fan*

            If OP is cramming in “one more thing” then they need to categorise their tasks as either “can be done on my phone/laptop anywhere in a few spare moments” or “needs extended focus and access to my desk”.

            Do the latter when not about to go to a meeting; save the former for those few spare moments that arise because you got to the meeting before the start time. Tasks still get done, other people get to move on with their day.

            1. Spero*

              THIS!!! This is the actionable suggestion to me. Have a ‘mobile hit list’ of the things that need to happen some time this day, but can be done from my laptop as I’m waiting for the meeting to start just as easily as they can be done from my desk while I’m making the whole meeting wait for me.
              As a meeting organizer, I often start meetings knowing that half the participants are finishing something up on their laptops for the first five minutes. It’s not a problem to have half their attention while we approve minutes or do an intro. It IS a problem to have them not show up and the whole thing is pushed back ten minutes that we’re annoyed and wasting our time for.

      2. ArtK*

        I disagree with your premise that someone’s time is more valuable based on their seniority. That may be true on 1:1 basis but it falls apart when a number of people are affected. Is the LW’s time more valuable than the time of 5-10 people? What about the cost in morale? If I had a manager who was perpetually late to meetings without a very good reason (other, important meeting went long, traffic, etc.) I’d be very disheartened. Not enough to quit over but enough to be frustrated.

        Finally, I’ve worked with plenty of managers whose time wasn’t worth more than mine to the company. Time spent waiting for someone in a meeting is time I’ve lost for coding, fixing bugs, supporting customers. I’m directly producing revenue for the company.

        1. Zweisatz*

          cosigned on all accounts. You’re likely to let several people wait who all get paid a salary. You’re loosing goodwill when people have to wait every time. And I’m saying that as a person struggling to be on time.

        2. Anon for this*

          It also falls apart in terms of meetings, because… yes, someone who’s higher up’s time is more valuable. But that doesn’t mean the tasks their underlings who are stuck waiting on them need to be doing aren’t valuable! Or that they won’t be punished for low productivity if they’re stuck waiting on the higher up who’s constantly late for meetings. OP has institutional clout. OP’s coworkers and underlings don’t. They’re the ones who will take the heat for any delays Op causes.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        It might be individually more valuable but it’s not more valuable vs. your cumulative employees. I guarantee you that one person’s one-more-task doesn’t amount to more than time wasted by 15 employees because they were waiting for their manager.

      4. Observer*

        Not you as a human being are more valuable but because a) you’re paid more or b) the impact on the business of the /other/ things you’re doing (or not doing) is higher

        That is true *up to a point*. And that’s the real problem. It’s not occasional, it’s pretty clearly not just the occasional single lower level staff person, and the LW just doesn’t care. They would not even be thinking about it, except that it’s apparently become enough of a problem that *people* (ie multiple people) resent it and it’s causing discord.

        As others noted, here and in the original post, you also need to keep in mind that when you hold up multiple people, the value proposition shifts. Also, if you’re being late is the bottle neck, then the value proposition also changes. Sure, your time may be more valuable than the copy-editor’s (to take one example). But if your lateness means that the copy the editor is working on does not get to the client on time, you’ve tanked a LOT more value.

    6. ijustworkhere*

      This. Being late is a choice. Make a different choice if you want different results.

    7. Nicole Maria*

      If she’s a senior manager and the people she’s meeting with aren’t, then her time literally is more valuable. I think she’s being pretty reasonable – it’s normal for people in leadership positions who are overscheduled to consistently be a few minutes late. I had a boss than I knew I could only get approval from if I caught her walking between meetings, so you bet I would be waiting to catch her if I needed something.

  2. I'm A Little Teapot*

    When you see all the internet arguments about the people who are ALWAYS late – this is why. It’s this guy and people like him.

    Yes, ADHD is a thing. Yes, executive dysfunction is a thing. If there’s a medical or brain reason behind why you’re always late then that sucks, its not your fault, but it is your responsibility.

    Figure it out and be generally on time, or people will think worse of you. Your choice.

    1. The Bigger the Hair…*

      I came from this same comment. Diagnosed with adult ADD. With medication, I can actually focus on the main task of getting ready and out the door in a timely manner. Unmediated, is a slog of various to-do’s that suck up focus and time management.

      LW should seriously consider talking to a professional. No one’s job should take 70 hours per week. That just demonstrates that this person can’t focus on the task at hand.

      1. Saturday*

        I don’t think 70-hour weeks necessarily means they can’t focus. The workplace could be really understaffed. My boss was doing a lot of hours for a while, but she was getting A LOT done, and it couldn’t fit in a normal work week.

    2. Nobby Nobbs*

      The people with an actual medical reason to be late who’ve dedicated massive effort (in the moment or through sustained strategy and habit building) to being on time most of the time anyway out of respect for other people are gonna come down on OP like a ton of adderall, and OP’s going to deserve it. I’m usually against “I powered through it so so should you!” but the level of not caring about others’ effort on display here is a real kick in the teeth. Just because other people show up on time doesn’t mean it magically comes easier for them, OP! You aren’t that unique!

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        So true. I’m the poster child for ADHD time blindness and am late to work every day of my life. You know what I’m not late to? Literally anything that another person is relying on me for, and if it’s important I’m generally a giant ball of anxiety about being late and am 45 minutes early. And if I’m not in the office (because mornings are my kryptonite) but my team has questions? I’m instantly available on Teams from the moment somebody steps into the office.

        You don’t get to mess with other people’s productivity just because it doesn’t matter to you, or impact you. It impacts them, and their working relationship with you, and that MATTERS.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          Yeah ADHD often comes comorbid with anxiety so a lot of us are overly conscientious of not being late. I’ve been sitting here getting nothing done for the past 15 minutes because I don’t want to be late to a meeting I’m running at the top of the hour and I know if I start something and get immersed in it, it’s nearly guaranteed to happen.

          1. Oregonbird*

            The one thing definitely lacking in the OP is any sense of anxiety! But I think taking the time to squeeze in testing for ADHD would be a start to dealing with the tension being caused in the office by OPs need to succeed by tripping his co-workers.

      2. WS*

        Yes! My partner has ADHD and she tries very, very hard to be on time. With the help of medication, alarms, practice and me as back-up, she almost always manages it. But it’s a big effort. OP does not sound like they’re doing any of that, they just want everyone around them to say, “Ha ha, that manager works so hard, of course my time doesn’t matter compared to them!”

    3. Peach Parfaits Pls*

      Yes, having the self-awareness to be like “it’s because I always try to cram in one more thing” and following up with an attitude of, so that’s just the way I am and I’ve earned the right and my staff can deal with it, is jerk behavior.

      Stop cramming in one more thing. Whether you have a condition that means medication and coping strategies will help, or whether it’s just your disinterest in changing your own habits, find a way to stop (for meetings at least). I somehow doubt you’d be on time to like a court date or a meeting with the ceo. Use whatever strategies would get you on time there to extend the same respect to your staff. People will be correct to lose respect for you if you don’t even try.

    4. toolegittoresign*

      Exactly. Plus, it speaks to a bigger problem. If you’re a boss and your time management is so poor that you’re chronically late, it is likely the performance isn’t great in other areas as well. I worked for a VP like this. She is a lovely person. She is incredibly smart. But she had too much on her plate and was abysmal at delegating, time management and follow-through. And the things she did delegate ended up having to be quickly just dumped on someone at the last minute with a tight deadline and little direction. She had a reputation as a star performer and leader but in reality everyone who worked for her knew it was all a mirage. She bounces from leadership role to leadership role, coasting until someone catches on that she’s so “busy” that she doesn’t actually get anything done. Her whole days were meetings, calls, emails and running late to everything, but it ended up being all sound and fury signifying nothing. She wasn’t completing many actual deliverables or contributing to them.

      1. circlecitybelle*

        We had someone like this in my department 20 years ago. She got by the years she was a director because she had staff to delegate things to. When the unit restructured and she was no longer a director and became front-line staff, she was pretty much unmanageable. She did have problems at home with two of her children, and some ADHD of her own, but no matter how much we tried to accommodate her, it was a bottomless pit. No self-discipline or follow-through and eventually I lost count of how many times she was late getting things done or just plain showing up after the rest of us had done all the set-up and prep work, and she would just swan in to schmooze or do the presentation (which she was good at) and then mingle afterward rather than come help us clean up. Eventually she got fired. I genuinely liked her as a friend (and still do) but would I ever recommend her to anyone else for employment? No.

    5. Rincewind*

      “that sucks, its not your fault, but it is your responsibility.”

      YES. I have ADD and a lot of executive function issues. I’m working full time and studying for my Master’s degree. There are a lot of days where I don’t start my homework until the day before it is due because of executive function telling me it’s not the right time to start it until there is no more time. My professors have offered me extensions when I’ve expressed frustration around not having enough time to do as good as I want and my general response is “Please don’t do that, if you tell me I have until forever to finish this, it’ll be forever until I do it.” (I also have perfectionist tendencies, so I need a hard deadline to say ‘stop working’)

      If you know you have a tendency to be late, tell yourself you have to be early. I get to doctor’s appointments on time because I “know” that they actually expect you 15 minutes early. Set your clock early. Set alarms. Use your tools! Do anything but blame everyone else.

    6. Nicole Maria*

      I don’t think most people automatically think worse of someone for running a little late, that’s an overgeneralization in my opinion.

  3. Bruce*

    I’ve worked with executives that behaved this way, and also with others who made it clear they valued their staff’s time… if they were delayed for something important they made it clear why and that it was not something they did lightly. At least this guy is asking for advice, so I’ll kindly say “listen to Allison!”

  4. BJMN*

    If you’ve shown the hint of awareness needed to realize that you’re the problem, you can take the next step to fix it.

    You’re not entitled to flexibility from others just because you’re bad at time management. There is no way that 70 hours is necessary. Look into the core way you handle your work and challenge your fundamentals.

    1. Jessica*

      LW certainly has a time management problem with the punctuality, but it’s unreasonable to say there’s “no way” that 70 hours is necessary. If their company had two people doing that work, would you say (without knowing anything about it) that there was no way those hours were necessary? Plenty of companies have one person doing what used to be or ought to be the work of two.

      1. Millie*

        I interpreted BJMN’s comment to mean there’s no way it’s necessary for only one person to be doing 70 hours worth of work all the time… not the work itself. The workload should be split among more people.

      2. BJMN*

        The unreasonable thing is thinking that 70 hours in one week for one person is appropriate, or even worse, a point of pride. So I will say it again. There is no way that 70 hours is necessary for one person.

      3. Meep*

        Nah man. Studies show that working more than 32 hours a week actually makes you less productive. Their extra time spent isn’t helping them or the company in the slightest. They would do better quality work and not need to work those extra 30+ hours if they were doing what they should and taking breaks.

        1. Saturday*

          “Their extra time spent isn’t helping them or the company in the slightest.”

          I really don’t think you can say this so definitively. What’s true of one person is not true of another.

          1. Allonge*

            Also, less productive is not the same thing as not productive at all. These stats need to be treated with a lot of caution.

            Sure, 70 hours / week is unsustainable and unlikely to be the best way to handle a resource issue. OP should consider changing this part of their work first.

            But then, please go and be on time, as much as possible. It’s a really bad look not to be.

            1. Claire*

              Though after a certain number of hours (I think I recall that it’s 50?) people start to experience negative productivity: they start making mistakes that chip away at prior productivity.

              1. Allonge*

                Of course. But for most office workers and especially for management, there are always mindless (or at least more mindless) tasks that can be done in the hours where your brain is not 100% up to speed. Filing, signing things that were already approved by experts, double-checking mail, approving leaves in the system, reading the headlines of news / professional literature, catching up on meeting minutes, handling your calendar and so on don’t necessarily need the level of productivity that strategic discussions or business negotiations do.

                I am not arguing that anyone is at their best, or close to it, after 8-9-10 hours of work. It’s just that we should not state ‘nothing is worth it after 32 hours’ as an axiom.

        2. Laser99*

          I’ve noticed that anyone who works more than 40 hours a week uses it as an excuse for absolutely everything, “How could I be expected to remember to pick you up at the airport? I work 70 hours a week!”

    2. Meep*

      +1 to this “There is no way that 70 hours is necessary.”

      I had a boss who was chronically up her own butt. She would be late to meetings constantly and then interrupt meetings to take personal phone calls. She also claimed to work 60+ hours a week. She didn’t. But the fact is, if you are “working” 60+ hours a week, you aren’t actually doing meaningful work. Productivity petters out after 32 hours/week.

    3. Samantha*

      70+ hour weeks are the norm in many industries, particularly professional services.

      not saying it’s right, but there should be some nuance and understanding for macro/systemic factors that lead to this.

  5. Djs*

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned is the definition of “late”? Five minutes? Seventeen? Are you just keeping people waiting, or more wondering “are they even going to show up?”

    Also, are these meetings you are running, or just participating?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      My boss is like this. Sometimes it’s five minutes, sometimes it’s ten, sometimes she doesn’t show up at all. At a certain point it doesn’t really matter, because at two minutes past people are already wondering if we should start without her or if we’re going to have to reschedule – the unreliability itself becomes the bigger issue.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        This brings up a good point – communicating well can mitigate some (but by no means all) of the impact. Most meeting calendar invitations in my agency these days come with a Teams link which gives you the ability to put something in the meeting chat thread whether you’re there or not. Getting a “be right there” or “prior meeting running over, let’s start at 10 after” or “got pulled into a Board thing, go ahead without me” can go a really long way.

        Still much better to be generally reliable, but if you’re communicative it can take away some of the sting of disrespect that you feel sitting there waiting without any idea of whether someone is going to show up.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yes! This makes a huge difference whether you’re chronically late or it’s a one-off

          It doesn’t fix the problem if you’re generally unreliable, but it removes a layer of anxiety

        2. JFC*

          Most people in my department are really good about adding updates in the chat. It’s great because it lets the rest of us know if we should wait a couple of minutes, reschedule or move on without them. It also signals that they understand the meeting is important and aren’t just brushing it off without communication.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yeah, I’m so glad that my team are great at letting people know if they will be delayed. My boss always messages me before the start of a meeting if she’s going to be late and lets me know roughly how late as well. It saves so much waiting around!

            1. allathian*

              Yes, the same thing’s true at my org. And we’re also pretty strict about not running overtime.

        3. myswtghst*

          Your second paragraph is spot on – while it’s still frustrating to have a meeting cancelled after it should have started, I’d much rather get a text or chat letting me know that I can redirect my attention to something else than sit in limbo for up to an hour.

      2. Be Gneiss*

        I have a weekly meeting where we play a game of “do we start now and then start over in 15 minutes when the boss shows up?” We often have the first 15 minutes of the meeting twice, and it definitely colors how I see this person.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          “Hi Bob! Glad you could make it. I’ll fill you in on what you missed after the meeting.”

          Every. Time. If they object to that framing, they’ll let you know and you can decide how to handle it, but right now you’re punishing everyone who shows up on time, and that’s coloring how they see *you*.

      3. myswtghst*

        Exactly – our org is pretty bad about both back-to-back meetings and meetings running over, so it’s not unusual for someone to be 3-5 minutes late. But there are people who I am confident will show up after that 3-5 minutes, and others who have built themselves a reputation that makes me unsure if they’ll show at all.

    2. HonorBox*

      I don’t think it really matters at this point. They’re late. It is taking up valuable time from others who have made it on time and their time is also important.

      Also, if the same LW was writing in about an employee who was chronically late for everything, I think the pattern that is outlined leads me to believe that the amount of time that they’re late wouldn’t matter. We’d all be suggesting they talk to the employee and let them know the importance of being on time because it is not only disrespectful but takes everyone’s time away from other important things.

  6. Janie*

    I frequently have to meet with senior people and a huge percentage of them are late or frequent no shows. There is nothing more demoralizing or insulting when senior managers are disrespectful of other’s time.
    It also kills my scheduling and productivity.

    1. Smurfette*

      > I’m always trying to fit in “one more thing” before heading to the next event

      Stop doing that. You know it’s making you late, so stop. I used to do this too, and it always made me late – but I didn’t have the sense of entitlement that you seem to. Being late and inconveniencing other people made me uncomfortable.

      I managed to stop doing this (90% success rate) so you can too – if you decide it’s important enough.

      Your performance and seniority do earn you flexibility but they do not earn you the right to waste other people’s time. That’s rude and unprofessional.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I do this too and I honestly cannot just “stop doing it” unless I pretend to myself the meeting starts about 45 minutes before it actually does, which is not always practical. I do it for my own stuff too! If anyone has a magic way to just Stop Doing It I’m all ears.

        1. Ink*

          I’ve been having decent success with staggered alarms- one or two “wrap it up” alarms 10-30 minutes before I need to move on, then a “go now” when I have to get going or 5ish minutes before

          1. Rosyglasses*

            This ^^ I set myself alarms to give me time to re-set, grab a water, go to the bathroom, and get ready for my next meeting. It’s possible to do this, you just have to decide that the meeting is the same priority as the other things on your plate, particularly if you have people you are managing and meeting with.

        2. desdemona*

          I have timers on my phone – ‘shoes on’ is 15 minutes before I have to leave. “leave for work” is 5 minutes before I have to leave.

          This way it catches me if I got distracted, and I have time to finish getting ready. And I have everything worked out so that if I’m in the car by the time the 9-minute snooze on “leave for work” goes off, I’m still on time.

        3. A Person*

          I have to set both a 10 minute timer and a 2 minute timer for all my meetings. The 10 minute lets me wrap up if I’m working on something big or hit the restroom or whatever, and the 2 minute is to stop me from the message or the email that I’ve managed to start working on after the 10 minute. Once I’m at 2 minutes (especially if I need to walk somewhere) I’m generally MUCH better about just getting into the meeting – and if it’s a really important one I basically just take a drink of water and join early.

        4. Smurfette*

          Somehow I trained the rational part of my brain to shout louder than the part which wants to just do “one more thing”.

          Setting alarms for well before I need to stop also helps, because it gives me time to process that I need to stop.

        5. Spero*

          I do the alarms thing mentioned by others, but I also have a mobile list – so things that have to happen at some point but can be done from my phone or laptop in the time between when I arrive at the meeting location and when meeting actually starts. I don’t really schmooze in that time, I literally get there early and sit down to start finishing up emails while everyone else files in as well as for the first few minutes of pleasantries. I will carry around materials for the 15 min task to five different earlier meetings and then if I never found time to knock it out, I have a 30 min to 1 hour ‘wrap shit up’ block at the end of the day where I close tabs on my browser or open half written messages and also knock out whatever is left of those items.

    2. Antilles*

      To me, having been on both ends of this dynamic, it’s really about frequency.
      Being late or needing to cancel a meeting once in a while because a higher priority suddenly pops up is the reality of senior management. The frustrated client asking why a report is late needs to take higher priority than my planned meeting with a junior staffer, that’s the blunt reality. Even if the junior staffer’s meeting has been on my calendar for weeks, it is what it is. But that shouldn’t be a regular occurrence, if you’re managing your time well, those should be one-offs.
      If you’re regularly having to juggle stuff and show up to meetings significantly late (or not at all), like what OP is doing? Yeah, that’s on you and your time management.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        And if you message the junior staffer to say “hey, I have a client here needing changes to a report, so I’ll have to reschedule our meeting”, that’s VERY different from having the staffer sitting there thinking “huh, is Manager going to show up? How long should I wait? I have X presentation and Y report to work on”. Sometimes my old boss would have to cancel our meetings because something more important came up, but she would always let me know, so that it didn’t waste my time to wait for her.

        1. KateM*

          Try sitting there and having your boss’ boss asking you if your boss is going to show up or not.

    3. Cinnamon Stick*

      I had a boss who was constantly 10 minutes late for meetings and when she’d connect via Teams, she’d barge in with, “What is the purpose of this meeting?” Derailed the meeting so we had to start over and catch her up and half the productivity time was lost.

      She had no respect for anyone. Every meeting invitation had an agenda with it.

  7. Brain the Brian*

    I have a boss who is always on time — early, even — in the morning but constantly late to meetings. That’s still a major problem for us, especially when some crucial meetings just don’t happen because she has overbooked herself.

  8. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Late happens to everyone — sometimes.

    If its a regular thing, its just rude. Doesn’t matter how many hours a week you work, you need to be on time. Flexibility when working that many hours means you don’t have to take PTO if you have a doctor’s appointment, or you can come in late the next day if you worked over, provided you don’t have a meeting. Flexibility does not mean show up at a meeting when you darn please.

    You know you are a crammer. Try not doing that. Set alarms for when you have to leave for the meeting, not when the meeting starts. Something.

    1. Allonge*

      Late happens to everyone — sometimes.

      This, times a hundred.

      I see this attitude from often-late people, that if you cannot be on time 110%, you already failed and you might as well be almost-always-late.

      It’s not a pass/fail thing! Every occasion is a separate occasion to be on time or be late. Yes, over time you earn a reputation but that can be overwritten. Although for OP it seems that mostly they need to convince themselves it’s possible for them to do this.

      1. ThatMom*

        Definitely. My SIL is late to EVERYTHING (sometimes as much as 2 hours late to family parties that start no earlier than 12:00pm).

        What’s she almost never late to?

        Work. Her job requires her to be in-person at 7:30am, and she is, because otherwise she would very quickly not have a job.

        If it actually matters to you, you’ll figure it out.

        Choosing to not figure it out after identifying the problem is just rude.

      2. Peach Parfaits Pls*

        Yup. Chronically late people get no sympathy even when they have a good reason, because of all the no-good-reason instances. If you’re generally on-time, people will be understanding of when sometimes life happens. It’s an emergency fund of goodwill. You can save it up knowing everyone needs it sometimes, or you can stay constantly in debt.

        1. MathBandit*

          This. When I was starting in my career I was a teller at a bank and because I would take the bus to work, I was always 20+ minutes early- I didn’t (usually) start work early but I would be at work at least 20 minutes before my shift start because I knew buses could be unreliable at times and so always took the bus before the bus that I *needed* to be on. Because of that, the one time I was running late and was going to be there about 5m after my scheduled shift, when I texted my boss (probably about 10m before I was scheduled) that something had come up and I was going to be late she was mostly relieved because she had been worried something happened to me and told me not to worry about it. On the other hand another teller had a habit of being unreliable and he would get comments made about him the second the clock ticked over to his start time about how he was late again.

    2. Joielle*

      Yeah – agreed that this is not what “flexibility” means. There are times when I work a lot of hours and take advantage of flexibility, but it’s things like leaving early and logging back on from home after dinner, or taking Friday afternoon off when I’ve been working late all week. During the work day, you still have to be on time.

      In other words, you can be flexible with your own time, but you don’t get to be flexible with other peoples’ time.

    3. Jackalope*

      I find it helpful (as an often late person) to set an alarm 5 min or so before the time I have to leave and have that on snooze. That way if I really can’t drop it immediately I can still finish the bit I’m on and make it on time.

    4. Brain the Brian*

      Counterpoint from a night owl whose circadian rhythm runs about three hours behind everyone else’s: please don’t show up to things 30 minutes early to things and then get mad at me when I’m five minutes late and you’ve been waiting “forever.” Most of that waiting is your fault, not mine.

      And especially don’t show up to my house early if I invite you over. I guarantee I won’t be ready until exactly the time I set.

      1. allathian*

        I’m the opposite, an early bird. In my head early is on time and on time is late, but in my circles the quarter past rule applies when we’re visiting each other’s homes. If the invitation’s for, say 8 pm, people are expected to show up between 8 and 8.15. It’s not considered polite to show up earlier than that. If you do, the host may put you to work laying the table or setting out drinks, etc.

        I used to have a friend who was always late to everything. In the end, our friendship ended largely because I felt disrespected as a friend because she was always late (by up to an hour) to our hangouts, but even then I never counted the minutes I spent waiting for her before the appointed time against her.

        I met her when we were classmates at college, before cellphones were common. She was generally organized and on time there and got a very good GPA. But after college when both of us had cellphones, her time management got worse and worse. Granted, both of us were working and her days sometimes ran long, but I was mostly mad because she wouldn’t text me until she was already late that she was just leaving the office.

        I know that many people with ADHD also have rejection sensitive dysphoria, but although she was open about her struggles with depression and anxiety, she never mentioned ADHD. Granted, we were friends in the 90s and early 2000s when very few women were diagnosed. But even if she’d had a diagnosis, I doubt our friendship would’ve survived for long because I was so frustrated with her constant lateness. It might’ve made me feel worse about letting it wither, though.

        In the end, my frustration over her constantly being late ruined my enjoyment of our friendship. There was no breakup, just a slow fade. The situation was made worse by the fact that we had no mutual friends.

        I have another friend who’s also almost always running a bit late, but we’re part of the same friend group, so it doesn’t matter. She shows up when she can and I can still enjoy her company when I do see her. But I don’t schedule anything with just her, always in a group, and this means that our friendship is more casual than it might otherwise be. I’m just not close friendship-compatible with people who are always late to everything, regardless of the reason. And that’s okay.

    5. The island of HR*

      Yes!! Alarms!
      I used to have a 10-minute heads up from my calendar app, but I was getting sucked into wormholes at that time, so I ended up changing it to 1-minute warning on Slack. Works PERFECTLY – it’s enough time to write down a thought, hit send on the email, or send a quick Slack before getting on EXACTLY on time.
      I know this happens so I have notification set up to help.

  9. Timothy*

    It drives me a little crazy when meeting VIPs, or even the moderator are late so often to meetings. Sure, we often chit-chat first, and that’s OK, but if it’s because we’re warming up the room, fine — but if it’s because we’re waiting for someone (we’ll just give them a few minutes), ugh.

    Please stop doing that. Instead of doing Just One More Thing before the meeting, get to the meeting on time (or even, five minutes early) so that it starts on time. I can guarantee that attendees will appreciate the New You. And that One More Thing you were going to do? Do it right after the meeting. Unless it’s a Hair On Fire emergency, it can wait.

    1. Managing While Female*

      The “we’ll just give them a few minutes” frustration reminds me of a children’s event I brought my toddler to a couple of years ago. We were supposed to get started but a family showed up late, so they held the event for them so that they could make it to the event space (it was a big footprint, so the family showed up then had to walk a few acres). The event was already starting late, and they made LITTLE KIDS wait another probably 20 minutes to actually get started. To be fair, the kids handled this better than the adults (I was appalled by some of the parents/grandparents behavior), and I understand the organization was trying to be ‘nice’, but I’ll never go to one of their events again because of what a disaster it turned out to be — all because people couldn’t just show up on time or at least hurry over to where people were waiting.

      All that to say, asking whole groups of other people to shoulder the burden of someone else’s tardiness is going to brew some bitter feelings.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        You don’t punish the people who are on time by making them wait for the people who are late.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Hahah, yes – I think I could write a relationship advice column with just the following answers:

      a) Have you told them what you’re telling me?
      b) It’s time to break up.
      c) There is no one magic string of words that will solve the problem, not hurt anyone’s feelings, and not make anyone upset.
      d) Actions have consequences.

    2. 2e asteroid*

      6) You’re not wrong to be annoyed by this, but it’s not going to change; figure out how to live with it or get out. (Sometimes this is 2b), sometimes it’s just a style mismatch.)
      7) Do not do that oh-so-clever-sounding thing, or you will get fired.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        8) Rules lawyering frequently doesn’t work, and will often annoy the crap out of people too.

    3. boom2*

      Oh, shoot. This was actually a great summary of the solutions to most problems. I’m not entirely sure why/how this one broke the commenting rules. And many of the follow-up comments were also valuable.

      Note to self: write this stuff down next time.

  10. RoDan*

    “I regularly work 70+ hours per week, which I feel should earn me some flexibility”

    Maybe, but it doesn’t give you control over other people’s time, which is that your chronic lateness is doing.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Also 70+ hours isn’t necessarily a flex. It might be a symptom of the same issue. In which case it heightens the issue, it doesn’t excuse it.

      1. Meep*

        +1 This. They are “working” (and I put this in quotes because no one is actually being productive and putting in that much time if they are working 60+ hours a week) so much because their time is mismanaged.

    2. Elitist Semicolon*

      THIS. My workday still goes on as scheduled, regardless of how flexibly the boss interprets time.

    3. Nicosloanica*

      Yes, working a lot of hours gives you flexibility, but not the flexibility to waste other worker’s time. Your schedule has nothing to do with them.

    4. GrooveBat*

      Well, plus, it doesn’t “earn flexibility” with the people OP is likely inconveniencing, who are likely lower on the hierarchy.

      They have priorities too, and OP is creating a ripple effect on everyone.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Flexibility in things that don’t delay and inconvenience others

    6. All Day Every Day*

      Yes, exactly. The director of my office is just like the OP and it is extremely frustrating because the rest of us 1) don’t really have standing to say anything, since she’s the director, but 2) also have things to do!

      Whether she means it to or not, it makes it seen like she doesn’t value our time, especially since she arrives 30-45 minutes late most days, but always reminds us to not leave early and to make sure we’re working enough hours. It wouldn’t matter one bit to me if she was going above and beyond in other areas because that doesn’t really effect me. The lateness does.

  11. Overit*

    1. Stop feeling entitled and arrogant.
    2. Recognize that people hate your tardiness and your attitude.
    3. Recognize that you are sowing resentment at best. ANY time you try to correct or guide a staff member, they are thinking, “Why should I listen to the person who can’t show up on time?” They do not take you seriously.
    4. Be on time.

  12. Bad Wolf*

    You need to shift your attitude from ” I’ve earned some flexibility given my level of productivity and performance” to “I’m being rude and inconsiderate to other people by wasting their time when I’m late.”
    And then STOP BEING LATE. It’s rude and inconsiderate.

  13. Caramel & Cheddar*

    “I regularly work 70+ hours per week, which I feel should earn me some flexibility”

    This definitely feels like the wrong calculus. As a not-boss, I usually understood management running late to meetings because they were in back-to-back meetings all day or had to deal with an unscheduled thing with the board or whatever else, but the fact that they work a lot of hours really does not matter one iota to me.

    Alison points out that it’s unsustainable for you to work that many hours, but at the end of the day if you’re in senior leadership, you’re probably being paid for those kind of hours or, at the very least, you’re being paid much more than me who got to the meeting on time. Seeing it as a get-out-of-jail-free card is definitely not going to endear you to anyone in those meetings.

    But also: set yourself a rule that you can’t start a new task in between meetings or with 5 minutes to go before the meeting starts. That means not writing that email, not updating that spreadsheet, not proofreading that report. Give yourself time to think between meetings or, better yet, block time in your calendar to do all the things you’re otherwise cramming. You sound super busy, but if you can’t find time to do that, you need to cut back on something (probably many things).

    1. KateM*

      Maybe LW needs to work 70 hour weeks instead of 40 hour ones because they waste 30 hours of their coworkers’ time each week. 10 minutes late x 6 coworkers waiting = 1 hour of working time wasted, six such meetings every working day and there you are.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I was thinking the same thing, that OP should just block off the five or 10 minutes before every meeting to give themself time to get to the meeting on time. If the meeting is actually in person, could OP bring a work task with them so they can do work while everyone is gathering for the meeting? And if OP is now in a situation where they’re doing Zoom/Teams mtgs, maybe that would solve this problem in that they can sign onto the mtgs a good 5-10 minutes early but keep doing whatever work task they need to do while waiting for everyone else to sign on.

      Or could OP maybe think of that 5-10 minute buffer time as a “get to know your fellow employees” time? I realize that as a busy manager you might think you have no time to do that, because you’re always running around and working to deadline, but just spending five minutes asking your staff about their weekends or whatever is a nice thing to do and helps you build rapport. So if you did bring your work with you to the mtg to do while you wait for everyone to come in, you might find that you’re actually getting more out of that time by simply absorbing what everyone talks about before mtgs.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s absolutely not the worst thing in the world to be early for mtgs, whereas being late is pretty disrespectful.

    3. Kevin Sours*

      If you can’t manage the commitments of the job it doesn’t really matter *why*. Something on your end needs to change. That may mean delegating more stuff so that you can get to stuff on time — or alternately so you can skip meetings and work will progress without you. I may mean getting an assistant who can manage your schedule for you and make sure you get places. Whatever. Expecting people to work around you isn’t it.

  14. D*

    There’s a mindset in this letter of, “Oh, I work so hard, I deserve some leeway and forgiveness in light of that, but they’re all mad at me and I don’t think that’s fair,” which is…fine, but the fact is, you’re not doing that work for the people you’re disrespecting. It’s like complaining that your best friend didn’t buy you dinner because you bought your mother a car. Okay, but those aren’t related and they don’t owe you a favor because you did someone else a favor.

    I think framing this around, “Who are you helping with your extra work? That’s who you can ask something from because of it.” You can’t just arbitrarily decide who owes you what. And if you are cramming something in on behalf of your reports that makes you late to a meeting for them–do they know that? Because I’m sure that would change their opinion on how late you are to a meeting.

    The problem the letter writer wants solved is not how to be on time or how to be more respectful of other people or how to improve their reputation. They just want the consequences of their actions to go away.

    But they can’t do that without changing their actions.

    1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      +100. And I would bet dollars to donuts that this person does show on time for meetings with their bosses. They reference the lateness causing resentment among ‘staff,’ but no mention of what their boss thinks.

  15. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    Chronic lateness = contempt for the lives and schedules of other (aka “lower ranked”) people – at least in their minds. As Alison said, subordinates won’t point this out but they’ll certainly notice and resent it. And resentful people who feel that you’re rubbing their humbler status in their faces by wasting their time won’t give you the 110% effort on the job that you’re hoping that they will!

    Oh, and for any doctors reading this: Patients also notice when THEY are expected to show up early for THEIR appointments but YOU always keep them waiting – sometimes for over an hour! And yes, your chronic lateness comes across as contempt and disrespect for them and signals, loud and clear, that “My time is valuable, your time is not. Ergo, I am valuable, YOU are not!” (This isn’t always a fair reading of the situation, but it IS how patients will read it if YOU’RE constantly late while expecting THEM to be right on time.)

    1. OrdinaryJoe*

      YES! Throw in the complete unfairness if the office charges you a ‘late’ fee but the doctor can run over with barely a ‘Sorry’.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        I agree, I do understand things happen and schedules get thrown off, but you can’t charge a late fee if you yourself are almost always late. Where’s my “on time bonus” ?

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          The last time I had a significant delay at a medical office they gave me a thing for free parking. It wasn’t a lot but it was a nice “sorry we were running behind” gesture.

          1. Meep*

            Maybe it is because I am from a state that doesn’t expect people to pay for parking, but if I have to go to your office and pay for parking, you better validate it each time. Sheesh.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        My uncle would go to his medical appointments and wait exactly 15 minutes. If he wasn’t helped (or at least called in/told the doc was held up) by that time, he would go up to the window and tell them that he was leaving because his “time was valuable too, and the doctor can call and re-schedule when he’s actually available.” The staff was flabbergasted that someone would do this (esp. since it often took a long time to get on the schedule), but my uncle was famous for his IDGAF attitude. Oddly enough, after a couple of times, this worked to his advantage and the practitioner was generally on time…at least for his appointments.

        He was a legend with unsolicited sales calls, too:

        “Yes, is the lady of the house available?”
        “Nope, she’s not.”
        “Is the man of the house available?”
        “Nope, he’s not either.”
        “Well, who are you then?”
        “I’m robbing the place.” [click]

        1. Joanne’s Daughter*

          I love your uncle. I have walked out of a doctor’s office 3 different times (3 different doctors). The first time I was gowned up and sat on the table for 45 minutes, got up and left. Didn’t tell the front desk just left. The other two times I waited about 30 minutes after being taken to the exam room and just left. I wouldn’t have left if anyone had come in and told me they were running late. Don’t know if it got better, i never went back.

    2. samwise*

      I always appreciate a medical provider who will let me know, Hey I know it’s XX minutes past your appt time. There was a medical emergency this morning and everything is backed up. Do you want to wait — it will likely be YY more minutes — or can I reschedule you?

      Even better when they do that right when you check in.

      1. Managing While Female*

        I wish more providers would do this. People are a LOT more understanding if they’re just given a heads-up and options if they can’t wait.

      2. Lana Kane*

        One of my providers has a screen in the reception area that tells you if the provider is running late or is on schedule. Super handy.

      3. AngryOctopus*

        The last time I saw my PCP, I was being checked in and the staff member said “she’s running about 15′ behind, is that OK?”. And it was, it was the end of the day, I had nowhere to be. But it was really nice to be asked!

    3. Distracted Procrastinator*

      I have switched doctors before over this. One doctor left me waiting in the exam room for an hour and a half. I went to a doctor where I was rarely called back later than 15 minutes past my appointment. Both were equal in care. I’m going where I’m respected as a patient.

      1. Reebee*

        Sounds like the first doctor’s practice was busier than the second’s. I really don’t get the “I’m not being respected” take. It’s not like everyone is sitting around doing nothing.

        1. Freya*

          Doesn’t matter. If they’re chronically late then they’re not allocating the time necessary for each patient. You can definitely squeeze more 10 minute appointments in in a day than 20 minute appointments, but if those 10 minute appointments actually take 20 minutes, then each of them will take an extra ten minutes more than the time you allocated them.

          I’d rather have the doctor that allocates the time they actually need to do a good job with me than one who under-allocates and is always rushed.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Or one who says “I’m so sorry, there were three emergencies this AM and it’s really pushed the schedule off” and then gives you an expected time/other options.

    4. PainScaly*

      As someone in healthcare, I want you to know that doctors/providers at most practices have zero say in how patients are scheduled. The healthcare organizations that employ most providers are constantly ratcheting up the number of patients they are expected to see each day. They hate this just as much as you do.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Ideally, people walking out of appointments will affect the bottom line enough that it will get thru to the larger orgs.

        ALSO, those larger orgs aren’t forbidding any staff from warning about long waits. That is on the doctor or their office manager.

      2. Oregonbird*

        Doctors keep unionizing, and do they demand better work/life balance or more time per patient? No. It’s always about more money. I worked for doctors for 20 years, and it was always about cash and investments, never the ability to doctor effectively.

    5. Rara Avis*

      My doctor is almost always late, but it’s because she sits down and listens to her patients, and often runs over the 15 minutes she’s given for each one. So it’s hard to resent the lateness because I know she’ll do the same for me.

    6. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I went to a specialist and always scheduled for their first appointment so I could get to work. They were routinely about 30 to 45 minutes late. I found out why when I heard the person who checked me in call them AT HOME to let them know their first patient was in the office. They were fired so fast!

    7. Gyne*

      Huh??? Nearly everywhere I go charges a late fee/will not see you if you’re late. Even restaurants in my area take down a credit card number when you book a reservation and will charge if you cancel or no show, and if you’re more than 10 minutes late they give away your table (and charge you!) The hair salon I go to does the same. The yoga studio I go to charges a no-show fee AND locks the door when the class starts because the teachers is in the studio teaching, so if you arrive (late) after class begins you’re SOL. The advantage that the hair salon and the yoga studio have over physicians is that if you come to a hair appointment and say, “oh by the way, while I’m here, can you also do some highlights and my nails?” they will say, “um no, that’s a separate appointment – schedule that at the front when you’re leaving.” (Or, if there was an opening, maybe they’d work you in for the extra but you’d also pay for those highlights.) People can and do frequently come to doctors’ offices with an unexpected medical thing that needs to be dealt with and can’t be put off to another visit. (People also can and do frequently show up 10-15 minutes late to their scheduled doctor’s appointments, and it’s up to the doctor to decide if they’re going to let the schedule just get completely out of hand or try to salvage some hope of staying on time. Or, as someone said below, most doctors these days are employed and have no say in the scheduling of their patients.) Ironically at the doctor’s office it is those people you claim to be “lower ranked” (???) who are causing the lateness by… being sick. The nerve.

      1. Bast*

        Many doctor’s offices (at least in my area) will not see you about “one extra thing” if it wasn’t something that you mentioned on the phone when scheduling. They now have “annual appointments” and “problem appointments.” If I go to my PCP for my annual and want to complain about the numbness and tingling in my fingers, they will likely tell me to come back and schedule another appointment for that. If it is really truly urgent and can’t wait another couple of weeks or is something they can’t handle, they will tell me to go to the ER. I’ve never seen them just tack on something else. Even with “problem visits” you go for a specific issue – again, say numbness and tingling in my fingers – if I try to bring up my constant cough, they will tell me to come back. This mostly happened after they got bought out by the big healthcare companies. I think a 10 minute grace period is reasonable for doctor’s office, because as much as people try to be early, life happens. I am that person who is ALWAYS early, but even when padding my time I have encountered bad traffic, construction, etc.

        1. Bast*

          And regarding being late and not being seen — I think it really depends on the business and your reputation. Some places really cannot allow for any lateness whatsoever. For some it won’t make much of a difference. Also, I find that when you are that person who is ALWAYS early/on time, if you are (minorly) late once, people are more likely to make an exception because they know it isn’t like you. I can assume it is not the same for people who are always late.

        2. Oregonbird*

          The fact that those various issues, taken together, often spell out the condition – that’s pretty much what the insurance employer doesn’t want to know. Curing someone is expensive, while booking spots for one symptom after another is ka-ching!

          1. Bast*

            Yes, all of the new “can’t discuss more than 1 problem in a visit” and needing a new appointment for every little thing did not happen before they got bought out. When they were just a small town, independently run office, they were not nearly as harried and encumbered by these rules that are all about $$. Sadly, many offices are being bought out by these large corporations to the extent that it’s becoming more and more difficult to find one who isn’t.

    8. Observer*

      Patients also notice when THEY are expected to show up early for THEIR appointments but YOU always keep them waiting – sometimes for over an hour

      Which is why my Dr. office will keep you updated on how close to schedule the doctor is. You have to call them, but they are mostly honest and accurate. And most people are ok with it, both because they don’t have to sit around, but also because they know that it mostly happens because the main doctor tends to spend a lot more time with patients than “allowed” by the software / insurance. And it percolated through the practice – not to the same extent, but I’ve never been rushed out of an appointment when I needed to talk to a doctor.

    9. Cynical B*

      all the appointments I get from my doctor ask me to be there 30 minutes before. Guess how often I get called in early.

    10. Orv*

      The trick for getting in to see the doctor quickly is to book an appointment early in the morning. Most offices start out on time and run progressively later as the day goes on.

  16. Ginny Weasley*

    In my last role, I was the chief of staff to a C-suite executive. They were late *all the time* to meetings with me and with other senior executives – sometimes by 15 or 20 minutes – and it was so extremely demoralizing. It felt incredibly disrespectful of my time and honestly like a power play. Yes, I’m junior to you, but I have valuable work to be doing too! I could never say anything, because this person was my boss and also would not have taken the feedback well, but I definitely felt it.

    (They also often ignored meeting end times – nothing worse than getting sucked into a hourlong meeting late on Friday afternoon and having to move your evening plans because it apparently never occurred to the executive that I might have a life outside of work…)

  17. La Triviata*

    Perhaps try being early to meetings and use the time to cram in “one more thing”. Or take care of something that’s not time-sensitive while waiting for the meeting to start.

    1. Nicosloanica*

      I admit I had this same issue and I had to accept being less productive because I simply *could not start* that “one more thing” in the 5-10 minutes before a meeting anymore. It was causing me to be late and look disrespectful to others. I decided work was paying me to be a good coworker more than paying me to answer that email / get that one thing in the file / finish that draft right now. At least with virtual everything, you can log into the meeting a few minutes early and *then* try to get to that email or whatever, but in-person, no. Being timely does mean that you may have to spend 5 minutes quietly not being productive waiting for the meeting (this is why chronic late people are extra annoying; I was five minutes early, and you think you were “only” ten minutes late).

    2. Agent Diane*

      This! Being sat in a meeting room gives minutes early means you can draft the email *and* be on time. It’s slightly harder with online meetings but I would routinely arrive early, go on silent with the comment “just finishing up an email”, and then unmute and share screen on the dot of the meeting starting.

      Also, get an assistant.

      1. Orv*

        That wouldn’t work where I work because meeting rooms are generally booked all the time, so if you get there early some other meeting will be going on.

    3. Lana Kane*

      I remember a chronically late friend of mine mentioning that she did this as well, and my first thought was, “well, stop doing that!” Then I realized that while I am not chronically late, I do have that tendency of doing “one more thing” and while I was still managing to be on time, I was on time but also stressed the eff out. I ended up glad she dropped that in conversation because it helped me see something in myself I hadn’t noticed, because the end result turned out “okay”. (But not really because being stressed out isn’t okay).

  18. Miss Buttons*

    My company has standard meeting start times across the board of ten past the hour, and standard end times of exactly on the hour. This solves so many problems, gives people potty breaks in between meetings, etc. I’m surprised more companies don’t do this. This LW would have no excuse in my company.

    1. Nicosloanica*

      I agree this should be the norm. It used to be a setting in outlook I think, that the “default” meting was 30 minutes (not an hour) and started at ten after.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      You can also start the meeting at the top or bottom of the hour (x:00 and x:30) and end after 25 or 50 minutes.

      I would probably get used to, but would be annoyed by this company’s SOP.

    3. starsaphire*

      Same at mine, but from the opposite end: meetings start on the hour and last for 25 or 50 minutes, and have a hard stop.

      It works, too; if a meeting starts to run over, at X:51 you’ll see a shower of “NTD” in the chat, and then the meeting ends anyway because there’s only 3 people left.

      1. Troubadour*

        At my university, morning lectures were from X:00 to X:50 and afternoon lectures were from X:10 to Y:00. This meant that even if you were scheduled back to back, you could still snatch a 20min lunch. That could work well for work meetings too.

        1. Rincewind*

          Oh, that’s nice. I hope more schools do this. I remember my freshman second semester Mon-Wed-Fri I had classes from 8 AM – 1 PM, and then an afternoon lab from 1 PM – 5 PM. The classes were in the same building because they were all for my major but it was a “pick up your books and run” situation. I just stopped attending the 12 PM class and read the textbook instead, because otherwise I didn’t eat 3 days a week.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      Sometimes it’s this simple. Just plan on the fact that people with bodies need to do body-type things.

      This is not actually the LW’s issue (they are entirely too entitled) but for others coming here, this is a way to stave off problems with people coming late to meetings.

  19. Dancing Otter*

    Outlook features include an alarm function for appointments, right? You should be using it. If you’re using it, and still late, then set the alarm earlier.
    Can you add “travel time” to internal meetings? I never used to allow enough time for the elevator or stopping at the printer. When driving someplace, time to get to the car or parking isn’t included in driving time estimates, thank you VERY much, Siri. (Ongoing issue, can you tell?)
    You might talk to IT about setting your system clock a few minutes fast, if possible. (It might not be, with a network.) Or get a desk clock that you can set ahead. Just having a desk clock might help, in fact.

    1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I set an alarm on my phone or watch if I’m about to start something absorbing and I feel there is a danger of missing an upcoming meeting start time. Takes two seconds and so often is a surprise when it goes off! I have everything on silent so not annoying anyone with an alarm, my wrist just buzzes :-)

    2. Troubadour*

      Alternatively: if you’re using the Outlook reminder and you’re still late because you’re trying to do just one more thing after it goes off, then set the alarm *later* so that when it goes off you know you have to leave *now*.

      (I also had trouble for a while with Outlook unhelpfully popping up the reminders in the background so I never saw them. Our IT couldn’t fix that directly but added some other app that popped up notifications more visibly.)

      Don’t mess with your system clock, it’ll cause problems with trying to log into secure websites that are checking what time security certificates are signed or something something.

      1. Rincewind*

        Yes! A reminder 15 minutes ahead of a Zoom meeting is worthless to me. I’ll dismiss it and go back to what I was doing without a thought. One at 3 minutes out is perfect, though.

      2. Elsajeni*

        Yes! If you’re a “one more email” person, a reminder 15 minutes before the meeting is The Danger Zone. That *might* be useful if you also have a second reminder right before the meeting, and use the 15-minute reminder as your “don’t start anything MORE time-consuming than one more email” alarm — but even people who aren’t “crammers” by nature will see a 15-minute reminder and think “oh, I can finish up this one thing real quick.” Work with your brain, not against it; set the reminder close enough to the meeting that you will see it and think “oh, crap, I don’t even have time for one more email! I gotta go!”

  20. D*

    I log into web meeting or show up to meeting rooms five minutes early–usually whenever the second notification on Outlook pops up. No one else is ever there, so I just hang out quietly finishing my last email/task or breathe quietly for a minute or two.

    1. kiki*

      Yeah, I’ve definitely found that the best way for me to balance maximizing my time and showing up on time is to show up slightly early and work in the meeting room or call until others start arriving.

      But one thing to remember is that you need to stop working when the meeting starts! Don’t try to multi-task– other people can tell when you’re not present and it makes the meeting less valuable.

      1. OrdinaryJoe*

        I do the same thing – I start the log-in process when the 5 minute warning reminder pops up and then just turn off my camera and mute myself and keep working until the meeting starts. At one company, the unspoken rule was … If you are arriving exactly at the meeting time, you’re late.

    2. myswtghst*

      Same. I often join the Teams meeting with my mic and camera off so I can continue working on whatever email/document/etc. I’m in the middle of until the meeting starts, without risking getting caught in a hyperfocus and not showing up on time.

  21. oranges*

    Professional lateness makes me RAGE. Especially when the person doesn’t care! I’ll give some grace if you’re doing the best you can, but if you’re a jerk who’s convinced their time is more important than everyone else’s and barely feels bad, nope, you’re just a jerk and your co-workers are irritated.

    Look, I get it, I too have ADHD, but I do what it takes to not burden others with that part of my executive disfunction. Figure it out.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      I still struggle with chronic lateness and I feel terrible every time! Though be fair, I’m usually punctual for work meetings because either I’m already in the office or it’s virtual and doesn’t require a commute.

    2. Reebee*

      The LW doesn’t mention having ADHD. Also, how do you measure “when the person doesn’t care”? Do they say they don’t care, or what?

      1. Oregonbird*

        The OP was really clear that he considered chronic lateness a perk he was entitled to due to needing 70 hrs a week to accomplish his work. He was also pretty clear these were meetings with subordinates, rather than upper management. What he wrote in about was a way to end the disagreeable consequences; it did appear he would like to keep the ‘perk.’

  22. Sneaky Squirrel*

    OP should consider that the behaviors they model set an example for the company. By showing up on time for meetings, it models that the meeting is important and that OP is present and engaged. It also sets expectations about the importance of timeliness for more junior staff. If OP cannot be timely for the meeting, then OP should consider whether their involvement is necessary.

    I frequently have to meet with more senior staff who are 15 min+ late to the meeting and provide no advanced warning that they will be late. It’s a waste of my time to wait when I too have a packed schedule, it’s frustrating to me because it leads me to believe that my needs to meet aren’t important when I have to cut out half of my discussion points to accommodate a shortened meeting schedule, and it inhibits the progress of projects that I’m working on if we cannot come to a conclusion in the meeting because of the delays.

  23. kiki*

    Something that a leader at a former company said that stuck with me is that if you are chronically “too busy” to attend meetings on time and be fully present, that means there is a staffing issue that exists that needs to be escalated. That LW is working 70 hours and still feel like they need to cram the most out of every minute solidifies for me that there is a serious issue with that role and staffing for LW.

    I also think it’s important for LW to understand that they might be maximizing their time, but they are wasting time for all the other people in the meeting who are spending a long time waiting. Sometimes LW’s time is going to be more valuable to spend elsewhere than the other people in the call but not always! Being late by five minutes to a meeting because a meeting with the board is running long is fair and LW’s time and the board’s time is probably more valuable to the company than that of the other folks waiting on LW. But that’s not the case every time LW is shooting off extra emails or what-have-you.

  24. LovelyTresses*

    70+ hours a week and being great at all the other things earns you understanding for occasional lateness (traffic, toddler meltdown as you’re leaving the house, dog pooped on the floor etc), not constant lateness.

    I have massive time blindness (ADHD, of course) and set my physical clocks — bedroom, kitchen, car and watch — about 10 minutes ahead. Additionally, I set timers on my phone for when “getting out the door tasks” need to be done. 7:50AM: done with hair and makeup. 8:00AM: dressed and downstairs and getting out the door. 8:15AM: on the road. It’s helped decouple “being done with my makeup and hair” from “I’m leaving the house”, which is how my brain functions. And why I would try to fit in extra tasks between 8:00AM and 8:15, because in my mind I had 15 more mins of extra time, when in reality there’s about 15 more mins of regular things to do between dressed and out the door! Talk to an executive coach who specializes in execs with ADHD to help you find your tools. This is solvable, but you have to understand it’s an issue and want to fix it

  25. Managing While Female*

    Oh man, was this written by my boss? Always late or reschedules at the very last second (or after the meeting has already began) and is constantly talking about how many hours they’re working. I get you’re busy, but take Allison’s advice and delegate/manage time better. Overworking like this isn’t impressive and creates such a dysfunctional culture.

    1. GrooveBat*


      I had a boss I otherwise really, really liked, but he was constantly late for our one on ones or would cancel or reschedule them at the very last minute. I cannot describe how demoralizing that was for me. I worked really hard to prepare for those meetings, I had things that I saved up to discuss with him during those calls, and the fact that he just blew them off so casually did a real number on my self esteem. He would typically tell me something like, “I trust you enough that I don’t feel like I need to micromanage you,” but I really needed some dedicated time with him.

  26. Tradd*

    I have absolutely no respect for people who can’t be on time. I don’t care what the cause is. I’ve ended friendships over it. I know multiple people who will get to work on time, barely, but are late for everything else. But most late people I know are late for everything. Massive pet peeve of mine. I was raised with the attitude of “if you’re on time, you’re late.” I’m usually 15 minutes early to everything.

    Wanna bet this manager would fire employees who couldn’t bother to get to work on time?

    1. Bast*

      I have also cut back on hanging out with friends who are excessively late, and have commented on it to them before. I get anxious if I am not early, and while I realize that’s a me thing, there’s a difference between being 5 minutes late and 50 minutes late. I’ve told this story on a different thread about how a friend I was meeting for lunch one day was nearly 1.5 ish hours late, leaving me to tell him if he was ever more than 15 minutes late again and couldn’t be bothered to call or text anything, I was going to leave, and it would be the last time we would hang out for awhile. I was pretty hangry, which made it all the worse. The excuse was “Well, I said 1-ish.” Newsflash — 2:30 is not “1 ish.” It isn’t even 2-ish anymore. Not to mention, there are events that *will not wait for you.* If we had been seeing a movie, they would not hold the movie time waiting for us to show up. If you’re attending an event, they are not going to sit around and wait for you to be late, because the world does not revolve around you.

      1. Empress Ki*

        I have ended a friendship for the same reason, though it wasn’t as bad as 1.5 hours late, It was more 30 to 45mn. When someone regularly shows up that late, they are saying “I don’t respect you and I don’t value your time.”

    2. Reebee*

      No, because such a wager is a really unnecessary jab.

      Meanwhile, ending friendships over lateness seems…oddly judgmental. I mean, yeah, chronic lateness can be frustrating, but I can’t imagine having that be the factor that causes me to end a friendship. Glad I was raised to think deeply and to show grace.

      1. allathian*

        I’ve done the same thing. Not out of anger, but simply because the frustration I felt at my former friend’s chronic lateness completely spoiled my enjoyment of our friendship. It just took me a while to realize that constant lateness is one of my dealbreakers. I have some mutual friends in my social circle who are rarely on time, but I’m not as close to them as I might otherwise be because I never see them 1:1, just in group activities. But even that is better than not seeing them at all.

        I was also raised with the attitude “if you’re early, you’re on time and if you’re on time, you’re late.” I’m in Finland, and although we’re a largely secular society now, the Lutheran work ethic is still going strong. Many people here genuinely think that constant lateness is a moral failing. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I admit that I don’t respect people who are constantly late as much as I respect those who respect my time by being on time.

      2. Bast*

        Ending a friendship over lack of respect is completely reasonable, which is how I see it. It usually isn’t a single event of being late that’s the issue, nor is it someone running 5 minutes late. It’s people that repeatedly are excessively late (sometimes even ghosting) to every little thing and can’t be bothered to text or call. That shows a severe lack of respect for other people. It isn’t that this person becomes my enemy or someone I hate because of it, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “Friend, for the last 5 times we’ve gone to hang out, you’ve been late by at least 30 minutes every time, and never let me know when you’d be around. We even missed the first half of X movie because you were late. If this keeps happening, we aren’t going to be able to hang out much anymore; my time is important to me. I hope you understand.”

        1. Bast*

          Frankly, even a quick “Sorry, running a bit behind, be there in 15” is appreciated and changes things. Don’t just leave someone hanging.

  27. jenniferalys*

    Alison’s advice is spot on, as usual. I am a person who works extremely efficiently and quickly and don’t get easily sidetracked. And am always on time for meetings. Except for year end spikes in workflow I rarely work more than a 40 hour week. Yet it’s folks like this who are considered to be a “stellar employee” because they are running around like their hair is on fire working 70 hour weeks. I guarantee if they are “cramming” one more thing in minutes before meetings, the quality of that one more thing isn’t great. Knock it off and get to your meetings on time.

  28. Rebecca*

    Nothing says “I don’t care about you” as loud and clear as being constantly late does.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, especially if you’re more than a few minutes late every time and if you don’t give the other people in the meeting a heads-up.

  29. RVA Cat*

    Sounds like whatever small tasks they’re trying to do before the meeting should be delegated. The 70-hour weeks confirm this – do they have an assistant? Even hiring one part time would help.
    I also wonder if there’s a chain reaction where the OP’s lateness makes the meeting run over, then makes them late to the next, and so on.

  30. ER*

    I worked at a place where meetings starting late became a self-fulfilling prophecy. At some point, someone like this dude was so consistently 15 minutes late that all the other meeting participants wouldn’t bother to show up until 15 minutes after the meeting time as well. This became absolutely ingrained in the culture of the office. Meetings scheduled at 1 were just assumed to ACTUALLY start at 1:15 but if you scheduled at 1:15, people didn’t show until 1:30. And people would assume that scheduling at 12:45 REALLY meant 1 and 1 meant 1:15. It drove me BONKERS. I would always stubbornly show up at 1 and sit in an empty conference room for 15 minutes but, shockingly, it never changed.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Ha! I was just commenting about the exact same experience! It makes my blood boil remembering how 20 people had to wait for our leadership team to show up because none of them wanted to wait for the rest of the LT to arrive. They would all be sitting at their desks or in the break room or wandering around chatting, doing nothing important.

  31. AndersonDarling*

    When executives are late, it cascades to other executives.

    VP Operations: Oh Bob always runs at least 10 minutes late. So I won’t show up until 15 minutes after.
    VP IT: Operations is starting to not show up for 15 minutes after start, so I won’t show up till after that.
    Director of Communications: I’m not going to bother showing up to those meeting because I don’t have 30 minutes to waste waiting for all the VP’s to show up.

    I worked at a company where all the execs stopped coming to the monthly divisional meetings because we had to chase down every exec every time. They were feeding off of each other’s lateness. The whole time, us worker bees are cussing under our breath that we have to chase down our leaders like they are toddlers.

  32. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    I see a lot of suggestions to set the alarms earlier and I strongly disagree. If the situation is you are running late because you aren’t giving yourself enough time that would be the solution.

    However, if the problem is that you are always running late because you try to cram in one more thing, then setting the alarms earlier gives you false confidence that you can finish the one more thing. No amount of setting my clocks to fake times would trick my brain. In fact it made it worse because I knew I had 3 more minutes so I used every bit of the 3 and then would get sucked in and suddenly 3 was 15.

    I found myself much better off with a later alarm – one that gives me just enough time to make a note about where I left off, save my files, and get to the meeting. There is no snooze, there is no finishing up. There is just drop it and go. 100% of the time.

    If you are someone who can not stand to let thing be unfinished then you need 2 alarms, one for wrap it up and don’t start anything new, one for too-bad, so-sad, drop it anyway. But I found it much cleaner when I eliminated the temptation to snooze at all.

  33. Fluffy Fish*

    ” I am what you’d call a “crammer” — I’m always trying to fit in “one more thing” before heading to the next event and, as a result, I am late”

    No. I’d call you inconsiderate. You know its a problem and you do it anyway. You are literally making the decision every time that you doing the extra task is more important than wherever you’re supposed to be.

    So stop. Seriously. Stop cramming one more thing in. You know you do it, you know it will make you late, and you continue to do it.

    Because you feel justified in doing it. Whether it’s because you think your important enough people should give you grace or you think you put in so many hours you think people should give you grace – it doesn’t matter. You feel entitled to peoples grace and their time.


  34. SereneScientist*

    Alison and the above commenters have already said much about why this attitude can be super demoralizing for LW’s staff, not to mention unsustainable in terms of work/life balance. I’m also curious about how things are being prioritized. That, to me, is the hallmark that separates good/great leaders from average/mediocre leaders. This is not to say that the leaders’ time is any more valuable, but because the buck stops at their feet–being able to effectively choose and then communicate what gets prioritized can make or break impact and culture of their org. Is LW working 70+ hours because they feel they must be involved in everything? Do they delegate effectively? Do they trust their team to execute on their strategy and vision? Timeliness is just the tip of the iceberg here, I think.

  35. Frequently Alarmed*

    I frequently struggle with being on time and I’m the boss. Maybe I have worked a zillion hours this week and every week, so have other demands on my time. But, that doesn’t mean I just get to throw up my hands and expect everyone else to just deal with it; it’s on me to keep working on strategies to get better and to apologize when I fail. People give grace; you don’t get to take it.

    And, for heaven’s sake, you know you can’t fit in That One Last Thing, so stop trying. It’s amazing how much more on time even a tardy-bird can be just by prioritizing This Meeting With People over That One Last Thing.

    1. WorkerDrone*

      “People give grace; you don’t get to take it.”

      Can I just say how much I love this phrasing – wonderful way to put it.

  36. AC36*

    This sounds like a major time management issue that is being rationalized. It would help if the OP comprehended that others are not working 70 hours a week, and that their time is also valuable. They have other tasks and appointments that they need to do, as well, and if you’re always late, you are keeping them from that, because they are expected to be on time.

    Also, I’d be curious if the 70 hours of work is genuinely because there is that much work, OR if the time management is the real culprit. My supervisor is similar and she isn’t efficient at all. She does 35 hours of work in 60+ hours.

    If the OP had ADHD or other diagnoses contributing to this, then they should seek the help they need and stop rationalizing.

  37. NotARealManager*

    You know what’s causing the lateness (trying to do “just one more thing”), so stop doing that. You’re right in that you do gain some flexibility as a leader in the business, but it should be reserved for things like “the board called right as I was walking into this meeting and I had to take it, so sorry”. Not “I decided to finish up three more tasks even though people are expecting me in five minutes.” That looks like you can’t manage your time AND you don’t respect anyone else’s.

  38. anonymous here*

    Plenty of very busy people in leadership positions manage to arrive on time.

    The provost and the chancellor of our large university almost always arrive on time — if they are going to be late, they have an assistant let folks know. I’m pretty sure that they are working a LOT of hours, have a lot of responsibilities and obligations — more than the OP does, I’d bet. They apologize when they are late. They give their full attention to the meeting or event when they arrive.

    1. dulcinea47*

      The provost etc. have assistants, and it is part of their job to make sure their person gets places on time. They don’t keep track of their own schedule.

  39. An Australian In London*

    “I regularly work 70+ hours per week”

    This is not the flex LW seems to think it is. I don’t think more of someone who works 50/60/70/80+ hours.

    At best, I will pity them for working for a manager and organisation with terrible resource levels. At worst, I will assume they cannot manage their time and tasks.

    When it is from someone who is late to everything, I don’t have to guess which applies. I guarantee not a single person says “I know they’re late to everything, but they work 70-hour weeks so they’re immune to those consequences”.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I find them a massive red flag in managers, because they either have terrible time management or are participating in a culture of needing to work extremely long hours. I’d never trust a manager who worked 70+ hours a week to fairly evaluate the work I put in in 45 hours.

  40. WantonSeedStitch*

    If the OP knows that cramming in one more thing is what makes them chronically late, they need to stop doing one more thing. Being late to meetings all the time doesn’t make them LOOK like they have a time management problem, it’s an indication that they DO have a time management problem. They might also have a delegation problem, or a staffing problem. The fact that they are working 70-hour weeks and still need to pack every second (and more ) with work indicates they are doing too much.

  41. CeeBee*

    ummm, you are the problem. you seem very entitled. It’s rude to make others wait on you. You are very much telegraphing that your time is more important than their time. All time is important – it’s not up to you decide that you have somehow earned a right to be rude and disrespectful of others’ time. As to your working 70+ hours a week, it’s not a flex.

  42. soontoberetired*

    This could be a former boss of mine. There’s a reason they are former.

  43. Hyaline*

    Ugh, this person is looking up instead of around, I think—worrying about how he looks to those in levels above him while disrespecting those around him. No one on your team owes you flexibility to be rude because you’re a (reading between the lines here but) self-serving top-performer.

  44. Sybil Writes*

    Attention deficit and executive function issues are real and can be really debilitating. (don’t ask me how I know.)
    The fact that you have this pattern and want to change, but have not been able to (despite overall excellent performance), suggests this may be something to look into, to understand what is actually contributing and find the system(s) that may work for you.
    I’ve improved a lot (but can’t give myself perfect score on punctuality – I believe it will always be a challenge for me). Couple of suggestions:
    – Since you noted that you are in senior management, make it a practice to let whoever is leading a meeting know to start without you if you are not there, so as to not leave people waiting for you. Aim to be there at the start, but be prepared if you run late
    – Be honest about what are meetings you commit to and which are ones that you will try to attend. Senior management should probably not be attending that many meetings with junior staff.
    – Make sure you are keeping exactly ONE calendar. Everything goes on it so you do not overbook. Keep scheduled commitments/meetings limited to 2 or 3 a day if you can (more than that and some are bound to be tentative!) and be sure to allow time in between.
    Best of luck!

  45. Ginger Cat Lady*

    Flexibility can be extended as an occasional thing, but it does not cover chronic disrespect and power moves like this dude, who knows he has a problem but thinks everyone should just overlook it because or reasons.
    He may think it’s okay because he is “above” is team, but for every 10-15 minutes he is late, he’s wasting an hour or more of his team’s time! If he’s 15 minutes late for a meeting with 6 other people, that’s an hour and a half of time people wasted on this dude.
    Stop trying to “cram” and just show up for your team, dude.

  46. Immortal for a limited time*

    I once worked for a small employee benefits organization for public schools. Our executive director was a very personable fellow who was liked and respected by all — except that he was always late. Unlike this LW, he was habitually late not because he was trying to cram in more work, but because he was extremely sociable and loved to regale people with stories. He’d frequently do things like delay our return home from a business trip out of town so that he could “drop by” and visit people he knew in that community.

    One day he offered to drive my supervisor and me to an important presentation at a school an hour’s drive away to help deliver a message that was not exactly positive. I was the representative who set up the meeting at a time that was agreeable to the teacher’s union rep (my contact there) and their school administrators. I was supposed to feel honored that our ED agreed to help deliver that message. He was a very good and charismatic speaker and his presence would have been a good thing, except…

    On the drive there, I noticed the car kept going slower and slower, as ED pointed out side roads and architectural features and all manner of other points of interest along the way. I finally spoke up: “I think we’ll need to hurry to make it on time.” Him: “We’re already going to be late — what does it matter?” Me: (explaining that the teacher/liaison and several administrators are waiting for us, and that the district was paying a substitute to cover the teacher’s classroom. All factors that should have been obvious to someone in his position.)

    Later I mentioned my embarrassment to another manager in our office for arriving late to that meeting. She said, “Oh, yes, ED is quite the narcissist.” I had never thought of it that way before, but it was absolutely true! He believed that people would be so pleased to see him that they’d happily await his arrival and that any negative impacts were their problem.

    Don’t be a narcissist.

  47. Sara without an H*

    LW, I’d like you to consider a couple of things:

    1. Calculate what your time costs your company per hour, including benefits. (Your HR team probably already has this information.)

    2. Calculate what the time of the people you keep waiting in meetings costs your firm per hour. (Again, HR can get this for you.)

    3. Do the math: are the things you “cram” in at the last minute worth the time your team spends idle in meetings, waiting for you to show up?

    I won’t speculate on whether you really need to work 70+ hours per week — I don’t know your industry, and perhaps that’s the norm. But you really need to start thinking about whether you are spending your time effectively. I strongly suspect that a lot of the things you “cram” in at the last minute are actually low-impact tasks, and that you really need to focus on putting your time into things that have greater effect.

    If you see this, please send us an update.

    1. el l*

      Well said. Including about the 70 hours – who knows if delegation is possible, but gotta ask the question.

  48. PM by Day Knitted by Night*

    Our group’s manager, an otherwise lovely human and boss, is always late to meetings. Always. And she often has to be tracked down – usually via Skype – to get her to the meeting. In addition to all the other reason it sucks, over time it’s empowered everyone else in the group to be late or require prompting to show up. As a punctual person who hosts many meetings due to the nature of PMing, it drives be bananas. I’ve threatened to expense a herding dog. Or a cattle prod.

  49. call me wheels*

    It feels like this LW is looking for a way to magically make everyone be okay with their behaviour, rather than a way to change their behaviour themself. I hope the answer got through to them and they changed their ways.

  50. Dinwar*

    Wow, this comments section has become a LOT more hostile in just a few weeks. I knew this place viewed management as The Enemy, but it’s wild to see responses to a letter that really is “I’m overwhelmed, how can I handle this?” consist of “Wow, how elitist!” Here’s a clue: Management gets overwhelmed as well. And someone with sufficient self-knowledge to know that X simply doesn’t work for them is above average, regardless of what X is.

    LW, I actually have a lot of sympathy for you. I’m in the same boat–worked 60-70 hour weeks routinely, and have earned some increased flexibility in my schedule (not my words either, before someone calls me elitist–it’s my manager and manager’s manager that told me this). I’m planning to start coming in later, because there are practical business reasons for this. Is this elitist? No, absolutely not–by coming in later I’m allowing my staff to do their jobs without me stepping in, which allows them to make the job their own.

    The issue I see is that you’re trying to do too much yourself. If you’re constantly trying to cram in everything, and you’re working 70+ hours a week, you’re not delegating properly. No one can do it all by themselves, and managers aren’t supposed to. You need to assign some of these duties (and responsibilities) to capable staff under you in the org chart. This does a few things. First, it lightens your load–and this will inevitably improve quality, because there’s simply no way rushing results in high quality. Second, it teaches your staff how to do the next job, which helps them grow both individually and as a team. This will also improve quality–someone who knows how to do the work their work feeds into will do their work better. I always try to get my staff to write a few reports, even if they don’t want to, because they need to see what their field notes feed into in order to understand what notes are needed.

    The downside is, this all takes time. You need to set aside time specifically to list what tasks you can delegate and to whom. Then you need to actually do it. Then you need to correct the inevitable errors that will arise when someone new takes the role.

    Step 1 is to get a notebook and keep track of everything you do during the day, for a solid week. And I mean everything. You need to get a handle on what your workload is, and someone trying to cram one more thing in simply doesn’t have that (trust me, I’ve been that person!). Once you do that, you can start looking at what you can pass on to others and who has the skillset to do them. But Step 1 is to buy a notebook and pen and for one week write down every task you do and the time it takes to do it.

    1. not nice, don't care*

      Don’t voluntarily choose a job/profession if you know you can’t manage it. And if you find you can’t manage a management job after you’ve taken on the responsibility, then don’t take it out on others. Time for a new job.

    2. GrooveBat*

      Your personal situation is in no way equivalent to the situation the OP is describing. You are not making a conscious decision to keep people waiting because you’re unable to resist “cramming one more thing in.” You’re managing your schedule and communicating your availability to the people on your team.

      That’s wildly different from the scenario OP is describing, which just basically boils down to, “I work harder than everyone else, let them wait.”

    3. BethRA*

      OP didn’t ask for help managing their workload or overall hours (though I agree with you – as do a significant number of other posters – that they do need to take a hard look at their workload and how they manage it). They asked about regularly, repeatedly, running late for meetings.

      Then justified doing so with “but hey, I work hard” as if none of the people waiting on them do, too.

      It’s helpful to pay attention to the actual letters than projecting your own issues into them.

    4. Hyaline*

      If the LW had written in asking for help fixing chronic lateness that they know is disrespectful, I’d be right there with you. Instead they wrote in saying how great their work is and how this should earn them some kind of free pass for “just this one bad habit” disrespectful thing that they do. It doesn’t work like that. Their whole mindset seems remarkably self-centered, thinking about their career and performance without a thought to everyone stuck waiting on them.

    5. TheBunny*

      The difference here is that OP is actively choosing to be late and inconsiderate, feeling that who they are in the company entitles them to not care about the time of others.

      They aren’t being told they are acting elitist because they are a manager, they are being told it because they are acting elitist.

    6. Adult ADHDer*

      Yeah, although I agree that their entitlement is off-putting, I feel bad for OP. They clearly wrote in because they wanted help with this situation, but instead of help, they’re getting hundreds of strangers in an echo chamber yelling about how awful they are. How is this going to help the OP? Or are we abandoning any pretense that this comment section is supposed to help the OP and acknowledging that its sole purpose is to allow commenters to project their anger at real people in their lives onto an anonymous surrogate?

      Assuming we’re trying to help the OP, I would suggest that they get an ADHD evaluation. ADHD is badly underdiagnosed in high-functioning adults, and the cramming compulsion and time blindness OP describes are classic symptoms. I was diagnosed as an adult, and found that medication and coaching were extremely helpful in allowing me to better manage my career and other areas of my life. If OP does have ADHD, they might even find that proper treatment will allow them to stop working 70-hour weeks by allowing them to be more productive during the workday.

      1. Also Neurospicy*

        They’re getting pushback because they feel they’ve somehow earned the right to be late because they work 70 hours a week. Further, they want to keep being “that’s just how I am,” and not have any consequences because of it. They weren’t asking for help managing the bad habit they know they have.

        1. Adult ADHDer*

          That’s an uncharitable interpretation that isn’t supported by what the letter says at all. OP does say that they feel they have earned some flexibility, but then they say that they don’t want to continue to cause discord on their team and they ask Alison for her advice. This is not OP wanting to “keep being that’s just how I am” without any consequences. If that was what OP wanted, they wouldn’t have had any reason to write to Alison in the first place. They wanted her help.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Actually, OP is asking “how do I continue to show up late to these meetings but have the team not be mad. Don’t they know I work 70+ hour weeks? I deserve flexibility!”.
            The answer is “flexibility is not something you can use on others who wait on you. Your workload does not allow you to be disrespectful of other’s time. Your team is angry because you’re showing disrespect to them constantly. You need to be on time for these meetings, and learn how to prioritize so you’re not leaving others in the lurch.”
            We all find it suspect that OP doesn’t describe being late to meetings with higher ups, and feel it shows they know better. They need to bring that attitude towards all meetings.

      2. Oregonbird*

        So far I’ve read several dozen suggestions for being screened for ADhD, loads of time management tips, recs on how to assess that 70+ hr week, etc. What the OP needs most, however, us to hear the unchained thoughts of the people he insults daily by disregarding their work and time. He needs to know he’s not getting away with anything, he’s just surrounding himself with people who wouldn’t put him out if he was on fire.

        The OP really does need to know how his minions feel, and that the consequences can get a LOT worse.

    7. Observer*

      but it’s wild to see responses to a letter that really is “I’m overwhelmed, how can I handle this?”

      Disagree. That might be what is actually happening, but that is NOT what the LW is saying. They are saying that they have the right to be late, but it’s bothering people and they want that to stop. Maybe if they actually *acknowledged* that their behavior could be a problematic response to a ridiculous situation, people would be more sympathetic.

      and have earned some increased flexibility in my schedule

      Again, that’s not the issue. If the LW were saying that people complain that they come in late but without affecting others, people would be very sympathetic. But that is *not* what the LW says. They are not late to the office, they are late to *meetings with OTHER people* and they are having a negative effect on those people’s schedules. No one really is entitled to the kind of “flexibility” that translates into regularly wasting other people’s time.

      If you’re constantly trying to cram in everything, and you’re working 70+ hours a week, you’re not delegating properly

      That’s probably true. Allison and other commenters, both here and in the original post, pointed out that 70 hour weeks don’t necessarily mean good work or good management. So, I think that the LW should really think about this.

  51. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    I once worked with an Entitled Coworker from an adjacent department who did this routinely.

    For one meeting, the rest of us waited five minutes for EC and then started without him. (He served in a “facilitator” role and didn’t really need to be there.) He finally arrived 20+ minutes later, just as we were finishing — and then tried to write me up for starting without him.

    1. Observer*

      and then tried to write me up for starting without him.

      This reminds me of a letter from years ago where someone wanted to know how to discipline someone who had come to a meeting at client site before them, and when the meeting time came, went into the building and started the meeting. That LW was angry because their staff person made the “look bad” and should have waited outside for them to show up.

  52. Abigail*

    The LW needs to truly accept that they have to pick between increased goodwill among colleagues and the comfort of not changing.

    They can’t have both.

  53. BethRA*

    I wish it occurred to people like this that other folks are working hard, too – and wasting people’s time like this makes it harder for everyone ELSE to get their work done.

  54. not nice, don't care*

    My seniority and experience and productivity mean that I am MORE concerned about dropping balls on my coworkers or ‘customers’, not less. Yes, I know I can push things more than younger/newer colleagues, but why would I?

  55. el l*

    Think back to when you were on your way up. If you were like me, you had lots of meetings with leadership that took a long time to get, and you only had 30 minutes to get them to buy in or decide something important. You’d spent days doing your homework, rehearsed your talking points, and so on.

    And then you only had 20 valuable minutes, because you spent 10 of your first 30 minutes going, “Where are they?”

    Yeah, the team is frustrated. Guaranteed. Not only is there obvious disrespect, you can see from the above that like a third of meeting time is getting lost. Things aren’t getting done! You may get your 10 minutes of “one more thing”, congratulations, but at the cost of wasting (# of people x 10 minutes) of people’s time directly, and if there was prep possibly days of their time. That should really bother you!

    1. Jiminy Cricket*

      Right. And if Boss 70-Hour-Weeks is working that hard, so are her subordinates. Those 10 minutes or whatever that you keep them waiting are 10 minutes they’re not doing their actual work so they can get home to their personal lives.

      I think back to a job where I was in a creative role and had to produce a lot of work product, yet I was in meetings three-quarters of the day or more (a problem in itself). Meetings regularly started 10 to 15 minutes late while we waited for various big bosses to show up. Those 15-minute pockets added up to hours each day I had to be in the office when I could have been at home.

      1. el l*

        That’s absolutely how it’s realistically going to go. Time waste spawns more time waste.

  56. Off Plumb*

    My boss is almost always late to meetings – usually just a few minutes, sometimes longer. If it’s more than a few minutes, she’s pretty good about sending a Teams message. And we know she’ll probably be late on in-office days. One time she scheduled a team meeting for first thing on an in-office day, and we were all like, “Aw, bless. It’s cute that she thinks she’ll be on time for that.” (She was in fact very late.)

    But you know? This is literally the only thing about her I could complain about. My coworkers and I frequently agree that she’s the best boss we’ve ever had. The level of trust, respect, support, flexibility, etc. that we get from her has “earned” her the flexibility to be a bit of a mess in this one area (at least from her direct reports. No idea what peers think). And yes, she should probably work on it, if only because she’ll likely move on at some point (my personal nightmare) and she won’t have the same grace in a new role. But it’s not a major issue right now.

    But “best boss ever for a bunch of mid-career professionals” is a pretty high bar. I would not encourage anyone to emulate her. And working 70-hour weeks is not how you get there.

  57. Forrest Rhodes*

    I agree with those who’re saying that Just One More Thing is the problem. I have the same tendency, but it’s fixable: when JOMT starts tempting me, I write a quick, three-or-four-word note saying “[JOMT, whatever it is]” and stick the note in the middle of my computer screen or at eye level on a doorway or on my chair or some other conspicuous place (I haven’t yet figured out how to make one stick to the cat).
    It’s remarkably simple, and it works amazingly well.
    (Haven’t had a chance to read all comments; if someone has already suggested this, my apologies and concurrence.)

  58. WantonSeedStitch*

    The OP either has a time management problem, a delegation problem, a staffing problem, or some combination of the three, if they are working 70 hours a week and still need to cram as much as possible into every minute. I suspect that more than anything, they either need more people hired who can do some of the work, or they need to pass more of it on to others who are already there and have room on their plates. If the OP feels like no one who’s there CAN do any of the work they do even if they do have the time, then maybe what they need to prioritize is the development of their direct reports so they get the skills and knowledge they need to be able to do it.

  59. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

    I have to wonder whether OP is just as cool with their subordinates being late or expects butts in seats at the exact stroke of whatever work o’clock is at their company.

  60. HonorBox*

    OP, I’m going to set aside the 70 hour work week because that’s a whole other fish to fry. Rather, I’m going to focus on the “do one more thing” aspect of your letter. As I was growing up, we were chronically late to things, or often getting to things right on time because my mom always had to do one more thing. It sucked. It was embarrassing. And I know that’s why I try to be early for things now. I’ve seen this from other people in my life too, where just doing “a little bit” causes delay or causes stress, and it stresses me out.

    In that moment when you are going to do one more thing before a meeting, just don’t. Give yourself permission to take a minute, two, five to do nothing instead of starting something new. You’re clearly putting in time well above and beyond what is expected. So taking a few minutes a couple of times during the day may be just what you need in order to stay on track. Set a reminder on your phone and computer for 5 minutes before a meeting and then don’t start something new in those five minutes.

    And related to being on time in the morning… it may not be a workplace where everyone has to have their butts in the seats at the exact same time, but you should be modeling behavior that you expect too. I’d guess that the “one more thing” thing probably applies at home, too. So give yourself permission to not put the dishes in the dishwasher. Don’t rush around to start a load of laundry before you leave. Don’t go through emails in the morning. Don’t give yourself another obstacle beyond not being a morning person to getting to work on time.

  61. ThistlePig*

    My suggestion to LW and others struggling with this is to work backwards from what makes you on-time, even if it’s rare. Is it because you set calendar reminders? Is it because you set a timer when you start to do “one more thing”? Is it because you have someone you look up to at the meeting and don’t want to make a bad impression? Take whatever DOES work for you and extrapolate from there.

  62. Jenna Webster*

    You can either be disrespectful to your staff and have them hate it, or you can have them not hate your behavior by changing it to be respectful of them and their time. You don’t get to inconvenience and disrespect them AND get them to like it.

  63. Rosyglasses*

    Affirm Alison’s take on this 100%. I’ve worked for leaders who are habitually late or run meetings over and all it conveys (despite their knowledge or performance) is that their time is more important than mine, and is very disrepectful.

    1. Goldenrod*

      I had a boss like this too. I feel like she actively enjoyed making people wait for her, and if she were about to be accidentally on time, she would make up a last-minute reason to be late!

      It’s a decision, which this letter makes clear. I liked a lot of things about this boss, but her lateness to every…single…meeting…made me lose a lot of respect for her. If you want your staff to respect you, you really do have to be on time, at least most of the time.

  64. Nat20*

    I appreciate that Alison’s response acknowledged that there’s a difference between flexibility in your schedule and respecting other people’s time. This is not about flexibility. To me, phrasing chronic lateness as “flexibility” makes it even more rude, because it’s not just your own time that’s affected, and it’s crappy to expect everyone else to always be “flexible” with their time entirely for your sake.

    Work whatever hours you need to (though Alison’s right and that’s also untenable and part of the problem). And if possible then sure, allow yourself flexibility on stuff that just affects you – daily start and end times, breaks, time spent on projects, etc. But when it comes to things that other people are on a set schedule for and that rely on you to also adhere to said schedule, like meetings and appointments, respect your colleagues & employees enough to not waste their time.

  65. The Rat-Catcher*

    I have to set a timer, and absolutely stop whatever I am doing and get ready for my next meeting when the timer goes off. If you’re a “need to get to a stopping point” kind of person, set the timer five to ten minutes earlier and stop at a natural place within that interval.

  66. Bast*

    How late are we talking? I worked with someone who has habitually EXACTLY three minutes late every day. Three minutes to the dot, and while it annoyed the crap out of the managers, it didn’t make much difference in the long run and we all joked about it. While I’d still argue that people should try to be on time, I’d have much more patience with Mr. Always 3 Minutes Late than someone who was, say, half an hour late every time. Even if I don’t love it, I’ve come to acknowledge that when certain people say “stopping by at 3:00” they really mean anywhere between 2:55 and 3:15. But more than that? It shows a blatant disrespect for the time of others. If the situation were reversed and someone was habitually excessively late to meetings/time with you, wouldn’t you be annoyed? If your doctor’s appointment was scheduled for 3:00 and they didn’t call you in until 4:00, wouldn’t you be aggravated? These are people who presumably have other things to do than sit around and wait for you. Set a hard HARD stop time for things that give yourself plenty of extra wiggle room, and absolutely do NOT pick up anything else. It might help if you tell yourself that something is actually happening a little earlier than it is. That 3:00 meeting? Just kidding, it’s actually 2:30 for you, because it will be 3:00 by the time you get there after doing all the “one more things.”

    1. HonorBox*

      The comment about the doctor’s appointment is awesome. Because it is so true.

      I was a patient at a large and well-known medical provider for a good part of my early life. I grew up going there for primary care and then when I had a diagnosis that required follow-up every six months, so I had a lot of experience. When I first started, the 2:00 appointment was a suggestion. It became a running joke bet between myself and whichever parent was taking me to see just how many minutes late I’d be called in to see the doctor. And it was brutal, because there was no good rhyme or reason for it. But as the provider has evolved, they’ve gotten to a point where they’ve designed schedules to ensure appointments start at the scheduled time, or as close to the scheduled time as possible. Because not only are they respecting the time of the patients, they’re able to be more efficient and potentially schedule more patients.

      1. Bast*

        My OB-GYN has a policy tacked up that if you are not taken to the appointment room within 15 minutes of your appointment time, to return to the front desk and speak with them. If something has happened and there is a (much longer) delay, you are free to go with no penalty against you/your insurance. It would still be a pain if you had to take time out of work to be there only to get turned around, but to date, I have never had to wait more than 15 minutes. They seem to take this seriously, and I really do appreciate it.

  67. new post, new name*

    I smell the Entitlement all over you OP! You are showing your team ZERO respect, but want a magic pill from Alison for it all to be A-Okay because you are a top performer. Good luck.

    As someone who worked for a boss like this for 12 long years and saw what it did to myself and my team, it’s not just “discord” your employees are feeling. There is also frustration, disgust, irritation, anger, as well as a nice drop in respect every time you leave your people hanging. Also causes huge amounts of physical and mental stress for your team when they have to scramble to finish work product or rearrange work schedules to accommodate your constant tardiness. It’s all a nice slippery slope down to loosing good people who can’t deal with it anymore, alienating the good ones who stay, and creating a “if the boss does it, I can too” environment where deadlines and accountability loose meaning.

  68. bamcheeks*

    There’s an awful lot of “be different!!” advice here but not a lot of helpful suggestions on how to do that! I work hard at not being late and am never more than 5-10 minutes late, but simply “be — not like that” doesn’t work for me. I’ve been trying for 20+ years.

    LW, I believe you that you can’t just NOT do one more thing, because I can’t either, unless it’s something I’m sufficiently worried about that I can’t think about anything else or do any deep-concentration work for the 3-4 hours preceding, which is not practical for everyday meetings. I also have “over-optimistic about how long it’ll take me to get there”.

    What I think you can do is get more deliberate about showing this is a problem you have, and not simply disrespectful of other people’s time, and I would say that the way to do that is to think very hard about what the positive upsides of working with you are for specific groups. Don’t lump it all into, “but I work 70 hours a week, you should appreciate me!” That’s a benefit to you and your bosses, and almost certainly not to anyone else you work with. For the people you manage, stuff like “always does what she said she’d do”, “advocates for me”, “highlights my contributions”, “listens to me”, “prioritises sorting out problems when we raise them”, “communicates when she’s late and apologises” are way more likely to be positive compensation for your lateness than “works 70 hours a week”. For peers, it’s stuff like, “is generous with credit”, “meets deadlines”, “takes on the less popular jobs”, “is friendly and easy to work with”. This is the stuff you’ve got to be REALLY good at for your peers and subordinates to consider the whole package worthwhile. “Stays very late and works hard” is not it.

    Also, if there are particular times, venues or regular meetings that you struggle with more than others and you have the power to change them, DO THAT. I set up a 9am meeting with my team that I could only make if everything from school-drop-off to train time to bus switchover worked perfectly, which it did about 80% of the time. Switching the meeting to 9:15 made life a lot easier.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “There’s an awful lot of “be different!!” advice here but not a lot of helpful suggestions on how to do that”

      I think that’s because OP is not actually asking for suggestions for how to change! Her letter appears to be saying “I’m going to keep doing this – that’s okay, isn’t it?”

      Bamcheeks – you are at least trying!! The first step is to acknowledge the problem, not just seek validation for the behavior.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Well, the problem is “how do I not make people resent me for this thing I can’t change”. It’s possible that LW has simply never tried to change, but it’s also possible they’ve spent a long time trying to change and have now reached an age and stage where they feel it’s not going to happen, but want to figure out how to stop it damaging working relationships. I think leaning in harder to being a *great* colleague and manager — not just a “top performer” by whatever metrics the company is using — to compensate is the way to do that.

        1. Goldenrod*

          bamcheeks, I agree with you that those behaviors could help mitigate the problem.

          I guess I’m not fully on board with the concept of OP not being able to change, because from what they describe in their letter, it sounds like change is actually within their control. They just don’t want to. For example, if you know that you are always late because you always add in one more thing…then you know where to focus to fix the issue.

          So, yeah, they could try a lot of unrelated things to earn people’s respect…or they could just focus on the one thing that is actually causing the problem.

          I get your point about “maybe they tried really hard to change and it didn’t work” but that’s not what I’m gleaning from the OP’s letter, personally.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, that’s my take as well. The LW isn’t even trying to do better, they just want their reports to accept them as they are. And no, working 70+ hour weeks isn’t going to make people respect them more.

            1. aqua*

              well they did say they’ve made several attempts to change which didn’t stick, which to me reads very much as someone trying hard to change and it not working

        2. Orv*

          I go through that thought pattern a lot. “I’m 46 years old, if it were possible to fix this thing that’s wrong with me that I hate, I would have managed to do it by now.”

  69. SpringIsForPlanting!*

    I am a Late Person. Various genuine things make it harder for me to be on time than others. I have a variety of techniques I use to overcome my tendencies in places where it matters. I’ll share 3 here.
    **First you have to *genuinely believe that it’s important to be on time for the thing* Others have commented here about how to do that, but as a Late Person, I can tell you that the mindset shift is critical.
    **Second, keep a pocketful of tasks you can do *at the place you need to be, while you’re waiting for the thing to start*. Small chunks, mobile, interruptible, non-urgent, but valuable enough that you don’t see it as a waste of time. Create a new habit of getting to The Thing early, and then completing those tasks while you wait for the Thing to start.
    **Third, seconding all the recommendations for reminders, etc. But without those first two, they won’t help.

  70. TheBunny*

    This would drive me nuts.

    Sorry OP but you ate really missing the mark on this one and on how it’s perceived.

    When people are habitually late to meetings I think the following:
    1. They don’t care about the group’s (or my) time. They are fine with us waiting. Unless you’re the CEO (or another C level this isn’t true and even most of those I know show up on time to things.)
    2. They think they are more important than us/me.
    3. They can’t manage their time well enough to be bothered to show up when the rest of us do and have.

    What we absolutely don’t think: “They are so important it doesn’t matter when they arrive.”

    Now…I can promise the group is thinking that YOU believe you are that important…but to the rest of us you appear disrespectful of our time, priorities and schedules.

    This goes double if the meeting runs late because of your tardiness.

    Will anyone tell you this? Nope because you are their boss. But will it impact morale? Yes.

    Please, please stop justifying being late and show up on time. A habitually late coworker of mine puts a 15 minute block in front of each meeting she has so she knows it’s time to leave for the meeting, get coffee for virtual ones, etc. Maybe this would help you? It’s definitely about, I think, how you are framing it in your mind.

  71. Lizzianna*

    It sounds like you need to work on prioritization. If you’re doing 70+ hours of work and constantly trying to cram in “one more thing,” that’s because you have more work than time. I notice I start being late because I’m cramming in “one more thing” when I’m feeling overwhelmed and out of control with my “to do” list. It’s a signal I need to take time to sit down and map out my list and figure out what’s urgent/important, what’s not-urgent/important, and what needs to be delegated or fall off my list (this is the one thing I remember from the Franklin Covey training).

    I mean, yes, sometimes being late is unavoidable, but it should be the exception, not the rule. The flexibility that having a good reputation gains you lets you block out time, set your own schedule, etc., but it doesn’t give you license to be disrespectful to others’ time.

  72. teensyslews*

    Something that seems to be missing here is: how are you handling it when you’re late?
    – Do you give people a heads up and an (accurate) estimate for how long you’ll be?
    – Do you expect group meetings to wait or can people begin and you catch up when you join?
    – Are your subordinates expected to sit on calls/in the room waiting for you or is the expectation “wait 5 mins then go back to work and I will grab you when I am free”?

    I have worked for perpetually late people who do none of the above and it left me disengaged and frustrated. I have worked for perpetually late people who did all of the above and it meant I still felt like my time was valued even though their tardiness never changed. It’s not just the inconvenience of being late, it’s the implicit message of “my time is more valuable than your time” that is leaving your staff frustrated.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      In my experience “begin and you catch up when you join” doesn’t work. I prefer to wait over starting the meeting and then starting the meeting over when Busy Management Type arrives. Usually when you invite BMT to a meeting it’s because you specifically want their input or signoff on something. Which means they need context for what’s being discussed, and one way or another you end up repeating everything they missed anyway.

      It’s extremely enervating dealing with that and it does demonstrate a distinct lack of respect for people when it’s a habit.

  73. SJ Coffee Adict*

    Allison hit the nail on the head in her response. No matter how important you are, being late for meetings is incredibly disrespectful to the people who are waiting on you. Once in a while, fine. Every single meeting? Absolutely not.

  74. Cat on the Keyboard*

    Is this my boss? If you are, then you should hire someone to take on some of your responsibilities or start delegating them to your existing team so you’re not always overwhelmed with things to do.

  75. hi there*

    Dang, this comment section is HOT today! I imagine a few of us have been on the wrong side of someone’s chronic lateness, lol. Hope it’s a useful look into how that lateness lands with the other meeting attendees.

    There are some really good time management tools for folks who struggle with this, like How to ADHD on YouTube. Lots of the advice out there starts with a time study – highly recommend Laura Vanderkam for that. Basically, you *think* you’re working 70hrs, but you’re very probably not.

    Work WITH your tendency, through acceptance, data (time study), and small changes. Don’t fight it, don’t get defensive. Asking for help is a phenomenal first step!

    1. Anonymous Gentry*

      Fully agreed here. My son displayed a lot of the behavior described in the letter (minus the, I hate to say it, entitlement) and I was forever frustrated. I started researching tips to learn how to communicate better with him and help with strategies and How to ADHD; turns out, he does have ADD.

      Then, I started to see my own pattern of “Just One More Thing” and how it caused me to be 1-2 minutes late. I never thought I was sending a message to anyone, it was just I was a busy mom and taking a couple of minutes to do something to help myself later didn’t seem to be a big deal. Combine that with always being harried trying to dash into an appointment, and it was a disaster.

      I think I thought I was super-efficient because I was getting all the things done, but it was at someone else’s expense. And, I was sending a message that my needs were more important.

      Things that helped:
      I set a notification 10 minutes before a work meeting to prepare for the meeting, use the bathroom, or get a beverage. Then 3 minutes before, I force myself to just… sit. I had to reframe it as not a waste of time, but caring about myself enough to not rush all the time.

      For appts where I need to drive, say 30 minutes, I leave 45 minutes early with the help of 2 notifications. I am usually pretty early, which allows me to read AAM for a bit or do something that is calming.

      I suspect that OP feels like being early is wasting time, but having a hard stop and a couple minutes to redirect to my next task has been life-changing.

  76. JPHM*

    “I’m always trying to fit in ‘one more thing’ before” means that everyone else fits in one less thing while idly waiting.

  77. JennG*

    Here’s how this OP could take it from zero to hero:
    – don’t do the ‘one more task,’
    – be on time for the meeting
    – keep the meeting moving along so that at the end of the meeting, you’ve finished early (since by being late you probably have squashed the agenda anyway) and EVERYONE gets 10 extra minutes to do their ‘one more things.’

  78. Mgguy*

    When I was in graduate school, my advisor(who is your boss-basically the boss of your life it feels like at times-while you’re there) had a reputation for lateness no matter who he was meeting with. Most more senior people(colleagues, the department chair, etc) would tell him a start time earlier than the actual start time, but of course when he was the one setting meeting times the dynamic was a lot different.

    On one hand, we tended to cut him some slack because he really overall was a good advisor who constantly challenged us all to do better and could simultaneously reassure the person who was struggling and diplomatically bring the overconfident one down a peg at the same time(and graduate school can often involve the same person bouncing between those two extremes). He was our w0rst critic in private, but our best defender in public presentations(he would defend his students to the bitter end if he thought someone took an unfair shot during a seminar or other time).

    On the other hand, though, his tardiness ranged from mildly annoying to problematic. He was reliably 20-30 minutes late to group meetings, which would then run 2-3 hours and just be draining. I very nearly missed the deadline for submitting my thesis(which would have screwed me out of the job I was starting two weeks later)-I’d requested two extensions at his insistence because he hadn’t gotten around to his final reading/revisions before giving me the green light to submit, but I really got down to the wire and he promised me that he was going to work on it “that night.” He ended up falling asleep and didn’t touch it until 2:00AM, and thankfully the school overlooked what was actually a midnight deadline(and told me it wasn’t the first time it had happened with my advisor) and let me graduate on time, but nearly 10 years later it still gives me cold chills to think about it!

  79. kiki*

    So I’m seeing a lot of commenters calling the LW entitled and inconsiderate– I want to push back on that. I’m not asserting that LW is right to be frequently late– it’s not cool– but I think that there’s a mentality LW may be coming to this with is someone common and not rooted in entitlement.

    A lot of people see their jobs split into discrete sections: meetings and then “actual work.” So folks will say, “Hey, I’m focused on my actual work and that will make things better for everyone in a way me being on time to a meeting will not.”

    But meetings are actual work and necessary to smooth operations in the “actual work.” Being respectful and easy to work with may not be discreet tasks listed on your agenda, but they are a huge part of anyone’s job.

    1. Space Needlepoint*

      There are indeed many meetings that could have been emails, which leads to that mindset. We’re missing a lot of details here, so we can’t say that applies here.

  80. SwedishEngineer*

    I used to work with a guy that was always 15 minutes late for any meeting. As I’m super petty I put the most interesting item (that I knew he wanted to talk about) as the first point on the agenda. The agenda was of course sent out prior to the meeting.
    So when he arrived 15 minutes late and wanted to talk about tea pot painting, I just smiled sweetly and said that we were already past that point and had lots of other items on the agenda we had to go through and we could not go back to discuss something one more time.

    Every single meeting I was running!

  81. Former Gremlin Herder*

    The lack of details in this letter are telling. For example, how late is late? I have a supervisor who is often 2-4 minutes late to meetings, but she always apologizes and lets us know. I wouldn’t dream of resenting her over it because she’s a great boss and always acknowledges the inconvenience. It’s also just not what flexibility means in the workplace-flexibility means being able to shift things around, not being dismissive of your time commitments. I hope the OP learns a lot from Allison’s response and the comments.

  82. A Book about Metals*

    I think it’s good that LW acknowledges the effect this may have on their staff. Interesting that they didn’t mention anything about how their own boss or CEO feels about their lateness – maybe LW is able to make *those* meetings on time?

  83. McGoaters*

    Oof, this one grinds my gears.

    My current boss is running around a mile a minute and often his tardiness is the result of an inability to prioritize and manage his workstreams or trying to look overly important to his higher ups, it’s disrespectful when he’s blowing off meetings left and right with his underlings. It looks like a performative show for leadership and not a team-centric approach trying to get work through the wickets.

    Constantly being late is a sign of disrespect to other people’s time. And you’re admitting that you’re mostly doing it on purpose by cramming just one more thing into your schedule! That’s even more rude – you’re conveying that you are more important than the people you are meeting with, which is the wrong take to have there. They are going to see this and probably think less of you because of it – after all, if you are showing you don’t respect them, why should they return the favor? Respect isn’t owed based on positional power structures.

    You’ve got the wrong attitude about the importance of your own time! Your underlings and peers don’t see how hard you think you work, and even if they do, your poor time management is not their problem. Your lateness creates impacts for them – it wastes their time when they could be doing other work. It gives the impression that you don’t care about them as professionals or their work.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Totally agree. My last boss was also one of these types. To us, his truly overworked staff, it was pure martyrdom. He sent emails out until 12am, never paid attention to the meeting he was in in order to prepare for the next meeting (where he then wasn’t paying attention and on and on and on), chose to attend in-person for every meeting even if Zoom was the norm to include driving all around the state attending such meetings, then complained about how little time he had, etc. What started out as me thinking he was just a nice buffoon turned to me losing all respect for him by the end of my tenure there.

  84. CAS*

    I had a manager who was chronically late. She is one of the most entitled people I’ve ever known. She genuinely and weirdly behaved as if her lateness was endearing. It wasn’t. She was always late to internal meetings, one-on-ones, and external meetings. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that she usually wasn’t prepared for the meeting. So, it was an enormous waste of time waiting for her to show up and then having to get her up to speed on everyone else’s time. I hated it. It was embarrassing at external meetings having to sit there with everyone else, wondering if/when she might show up and whether we should start without her. I didn’t have decision-making authority, so I couldn’t act on anything we discussed without her. Inevitably, she’d sweep in, 10-15 minutes late, without an apology and ask me to catch her up. I don’t know anyone who respected her or her work quality, and this behavior was a big reason why. I don’t think she was as oblivious as she liked to portray.

  85. Salty Caramel*

    LW, look up, “Work smarter, not harder.”

    Working 70 hours a week isn’t a virtue that entitles you to interfere with other people getting work done. Disrespecting people who need you to be at meetings on time is a great way to have people not want to work with you or for you.

    You know it’s a flaw, you know why you do it. Fix it! There are, yes, certain situations where, “Take me as I am,” is an appropriate thing to say. This isn’t one of them.

  86. Katz*

    You expect respect because of your position yet disrespect everyone else with your actions.

    You now know better so do better.

  87. Just Thinkin' Here*

    Being late in the morning thing is unrelated to being late to meetings. There are morning people and night owls. Being late to meetings set throughout the day, however, has nothing to do with sleep cycles.

    It’s more related to trying to cram too many things in, inability to set priorities, unwillingness to delegate, and exhausted thinking after working too many hours. Delegate the meetings and some of the work. Prioritize and say no/decline when OP doesn’t need to be there. If OP needs to be everywhere, OP needs more employees. Or they need to be let go of control over everything and hand it off to direct reports.

    Some other responders are questioning the 70 hours / week. The OP stated they were a senior manager at a small firm. 70 hours could be expected at certain C suites or generously compensated to work that many hours. Although I suspect at least some of those extra hours are related to the issue above of unwilling or unable to delegate.

  88. La Triviata*

    We used to have regular meetings that always started late – there were always technical issues, we could usually expect it to take at least ten minutes after the scheduled start time because the person responsible for getting the system set up to display PowerPoint presentations. And, usually, the people there on time (most of us) would sit around laughing and chatting until the system was set up. One day, the Executive Director blew up and said it wasn’t funny, wasn’t acceptable and that in future the system would be working, the people would be in place and the meeting WOULD START ON TIME. It worked. Meetings started on time, with the system set and they’d end on time as well.

    Not work, but my mother was one of those people who was always late. If you told her to be someplace at 3:00, she’d leave at 3:00. She refused to take public transportation or air planes because she was aware enough that she knew it wouldn’t wait for her. She’d arrive at theatrical productions at the last minute and be huffy that the curtain had gone up and lights down before she was in her seat. People wouldn’t car pool with her because they knew she’d be late and they might be standing on a street corner for her to turn up. For one job, she was not only chronically late, but she’d have t do a rather elaborate hair and make up when she did arrive. This did not go over well and while she wasn’t fired, she was consistently marked down for it and left voluntarily since she was tired of the hassle.

    In response, I’m almost always early for everything.

  89. Raida*

    “Plus, truth be told, I feel like I’ve earned some flexibility”

    You have earned flexibility – you have not earned “everyone else can wait for me because I’m valuable so fck your time”

    I mean, look into time management training dude. If you have an assistant, get them to help you manage your calendar to have blocks of time for all the little things you think of throughout the day, and whenever you think of something “I could do right now” you add it to the list.
    Doing 70hrs a week and being late to meetings? You have too much work to do – is it all yours? Are you picking up other stuff just because your brain latched onto “Oh! I could do that!”

  90. Lines*

    I’ve been the late person and I’ve been the “on time is late, early is on time” person at different points in my life so I’ll offer a mindset perspective that may help bridge the gap between the two camps.

    The eras in my life where I’ve been extremely, aggressively punctual I prioritized punctuality over pretty much everything else. Project not at a stopping point? Tough darts, it’s time to leave. Haven’t gotten lunch? Guess I’m not eating before this meeting. And let me tell you, when those are the types of choices I’m making all day every day to show up on time for other people, I have zero sympathy for lateness. Particularly chronic lateness.

    The times in my life where I’ve been more in the “we said 2, so 2:15 is fine” camp have had 2 things in common. 1, these weren’t professional relationships or engagements. 2, I was doing a lot of big project knowledge work that, by its nature, took the time it was going to take and there wasn’t much I could do about it. But if I knew that I had to be done in 2 hours I’d never even start.

    If you’re a leader, you need to not being doing those big brain knowledge work projects at all, or you need to schedule days of no meetings so you can get them done. Because, as a leader, most of your job is communicating to other people and if you’re late all the time, you’re communicating that you don’t value them.

  91. Knittercubed*

    I really dislike the power play that LW’s time is more valuable therefore they can be late with impunity. I had this boss and found it outrageous that I had to sit in a meeting room wondering when they would show up, meanwhile my desk was blowing up. It’s rude, thoughtless and yes, I did think less of them. When I retired I made a point of this at my exit interview.

  92. Sparrow*

    OP, I actually really relate to the “I just want to cram one more thing” in struggle—it’s something I’ve dealt with a LOT. Most of the advice I’ve heard for that isn’t very helpful to me, because it boils down to essentially just “Well, stop working on the task when it’s time to go into the meeting”—and I dunno about you, but as someone with ADHD who struggles a lot with 1) stopping a task suddenly and 2) being aware of the passage of time, that just isn’t really feasible for me. The biggest thing I’ve found to help with it is extremely simple in theory, but can be very, very hard to get yourself to be okay with in practice:

    Be okay with having short periods of time where you’re not getting anything done.

    I absolutely get that if you find yourself in a situation where, say, you’ve just wrapped up what you were working on and now you’ve got 10 minutes until your next meeting, it feels like the only thing you can do is find something else to work on for the next 10 minutes. But with many tasks (particularly the kind I’d imagine you’re doing at your level), it’s extremely hard to feel like you’ve gotten any significant work done and made it to a good stopping place at the 10 minute mark, so it feels like you’ve gotta work just a little more… and suddenly you’re 20 minutes late for your meeting.

    And honestly, in my experience, one of the best things to do when you’re dealing with this is to just accept that you won’t get much done for those 10 minutes and allow yourself to not jump into another work task. Take a short walk. Go to the bathroom. Make a cup of coffee/tea. Hell, just lean back in your chair and stare at the wall if that’d be a good break for your brain. The point is, rather than trying to cram a work task into the short period before your next meeting, just let yourself have a short break. This may feel like it would be “lazy” or “unproductive” or what have you, but it will actually do three very important things:

    1) It will help with that meeting tardiness issue, because you’ll probably have an easier time immediately stopping your task and moving into meeting mode when the task you need to stop is something like “texting my spouse back” or “placing a grocery delivery order for tonight” rather than a high-focus work task

    2) It will give you a few short breaks throughout the day—important for any job, absolutely vital if you’re pulling 70 hour (!!!) weeks on the regular

    3) It will give you a chance to shift away from thinking about whatever task you just finished into thinking about the meeting, which may help you feel more focused + clearheaded as soon as you get into the meeting

    As an alternative that may or may not work depending on how your brain works/the type of work you do/what meetings you have, you could spend the time before meetings refreshing yourself on any relevant info (reading emails about the topic being discussed, going through reports/other files, etc)—the big thing you’ll wanna be aware of here is just making sure you don’t end up doing *that* for half an hour and end up still being late to the meetings.

    Good luck, OP! I know this can be tricky to deal with, but I have faith in you.

    (Also, I’d like to take a moment to remind the commentariat of rule #1 in the commenting rules [viewable in full at https://www.askamanager.org/how-to-comment%5D: be kind to letter writers. I’m seeing comments above mine calling the LW things like “selfish” and “entitled”, which certainly does not feel kind to me—and, as an ADHD person who struggles with time management, it definitely stung to open the comments and see people confidently proclaim that anyone who struggles with time management must be unintelligent.)

    1. Antigone Funn*

      As an on-time person with a good internal clock and no ADHD…you’re spot-on, this is how people accomplish being on time to things.

      Here’s what I do when I don’t have a good feeling for how long something will take: make a guess and then pad it. For instance, say you have 10 minutes until your meeting. If you think it will take you five minutes to read and respond to an email, estimate that it will actually take you double that, plus five minutes to get situated at the meeting (whether that’s walking to another room or setting up a video call). Now you can see that trying to cram in an email will make you late.

      Then you go back to the advice of Sparrow and others:
      1) Set being on time as your highest priority
      2) Be okay with not doing anything more “impactful” than that for those handful of minutes. It’s not that being on time isn’t impactful, but if it doesn’t feel important, then try to reframe it for yourself. You are accomplishing something! You’re showing your respect for your team’s time and resetting your headspace for the meeting. That’s more important than dashing off a quick email.

  93. 122345*

    I would argue you are not a very good manager if you have to work all these hours. Being late for everything is just rude

  94. Bibbity Boo*

    A lot of comments have framed this about respect — and it is. But it is also about wasted time, wasted money, and lower productivity. Add up the cost to your company of five people sitting and waiting for you for 10 minutes. Multiply that by the number of times it happens a week.

    Or, look at it from your employees’ perspectives. You took away 10 minutes they could have used to get their work done and leave for the day.

  95. fhqwhgads*

    LW, try this:
    If you’re 5 minutes early, you’re on time.
    If you’re on time, you’re late.
    If you’re late, you might as well not have showed up at all.

    Try to keep yourself to those standards. It won’t necessarily be easy for you, but it’s a major mindset shift from what you’re doing now, and it seems like you need a major mindset shift in order to make any changes.

  96. t4ci3*

    Not everything will work for everyone, but this is a personal tip if you’re always trying to finish one more thing: Set an alarm for when you have to leave for Thing, and, when the alarm goes off, immediately leave for the thing. No matter if you’re in the middle of the Peterson Report or juggling flaming bears, drop it and leave for the thing.

  97. Thomas*

    “Plus, truth be told, I feel like I’ve earned some flexibility given my level of productivity and performance”

    Rules for thee and not for me is a sure fire way to breed more resentment. At the same time as OP works on their own punctuality (meetings first), they would do well to extend more flexibility to others if they are not already.

    1. Anon Today*

      So, I have a boss who is chronically late. Not by much – 5 or 10 minutes, 15 at the outside, but always. I find I really don’t mind it. They are astonishingly, brutally busy, and they are almost always late because they went out of their way to support someone who really needed it (and I have sometimes been that person). It helps that they are genuinely lovely, very very good at what they do, and that they make a real effort to extend grace to late or struggling colleagues. I am not convinced that chronic lateness is always to do with lack of care – I think sometimes it’s just overwork.

      1. allathian*

        I agree with you on the chronic lateness, as much as I dislike it. But the entitled attitude of this LW shoots that idea down right quick.

  98. anonny*

    It may affect people who don’t know you…but if I knew you were always late to meetings…I’d go to meetings expecting you to be late and work on other stuff in the meantime.

    Also, “late” is subjective- you talking 10-15 min late for every meeting? Or 20 min +?
    Not a big deal to me, but 20 min + for every meeting would make doubt your ability to effectively prioritize.

  99. Schnapps*

    In Alison’s response is this line: “Undoubtedly, it all feels important. But it’ll do your organization no favors when you burn out or start dropping balls, which will happen at some point with sustained hours like that.”
    I would argue that as a manager (in senior leadership), LW is already dropping the ball by being chronically late. If you expect your employees to be on time, you need to be on time for them as much as possible – it shows respect for them and their time.

    If you have executive function or other neurospicy things going on, there are ways to manage that. I use the 15 minute warning in my calendar as a signal to shift to what I need to focus on for the next meeting – I’ll review the agenda, any notes, and think of things I want to say. This is often a conscious thing for me (even thought I have no diagnosed neurospiciness)

  100. SchottlandParty*

    My boss is the boss who’s always late. It’s difficult to truly overcome this, I think, but there are things he does which help. Prioritisation is a big one. It doesn’t usually matter if he’s a bit late in the mornings, especially as we all know he works the hours one way or another. But it really DOES matter if he’s late when we’re travelling, and it can be a major stress for the rest of us, so he prioritises that. Also, if you know this is a weakness for you, think about other things you can make a strength as a boss. Can you make sure you always shield your team from pressure from above, and take any heat on yourself? Can you be a strong advocate for them, praising them & pushing their interests (raises, promotions, whatever) with senior management? Can you be flexible and understanding when they have issues? Can you treat them when you’re on trips or whatever (the boss should always pay for that stuff, anyway). If you do all those things, your team is less likely to be frustrated by a bit of lateness.

  101. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

    I actually hate the ever-so-slight ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ tone behind telling people they need to solve their own lateness issues and if they don’t they’re bad people. If someone is a boss, works 70+ hours per week in a mix of heads down work (cramming things in) and meetings, that person needs help, not judgment.

    Yes, this particular boss could start to adjust his or her mindset around trying to fit in one more task, but that’s a symptom of a problem versus the root: needing to accomplish 70+ hours worth of work and meetings in a 40 hour workweek. Calling the person entitled or selfish, while potentially accurate, will not change the fact that the person has more work than can be accomplished in normal business hours.

    And to be fair to commenters taken aback by this LW’s attitude, I don’t know precisely how late or frequent the tardiness is, but a boss who’s handling 70+ hours per week *does* merit some flexibility in when they start their workday (which is how I read that part of the letter since it was talking about not being a morning person) so long as there isn’t an essential reason to be at work starting in the early morning.

    On the other hand, I worked for someone who was consistently about 5-10 minutes late for every meeting, including 1-on-1 meetings that they had scheduled. And I do remember feeling some big feelings about their not being a good steward of their time and mine. I also grew up dealing with a parent who had severe issues being on time to things, and it caused me to integrate some behaviors which have really helped me be on time to things, including:

    1. Making *ample* use of reminders for events/meetings I have to attend – and having those reminders show up in specific increments so I’ve got a countdown. I also make sure those reminders don’t just show up on laptops/desktop computers, but also mobile and wearable devices so I don’t risk being away from my computer and fully losing track of time.

    2. Pushing back really hard on meetings I’m not needed in / not an active participant and asking to get recordings / meeting minutes to inform me instead of having people waiting on me to arrive. (With the advent of Copilot and similar solutions, there are even more capabilities at my fingertips to catch up on what was said in a meeting when it’s convenient to me.)

    3. Book ample amounts of focus time and turn off text/mobile and IM alerts during that focus time. Having actual focus time during my day helps me know that I don’t have to cram heads down work in between meetings. It’s a lot easier for me to tell myself I can hold off until 3PM to do this task versus not having a set time in my day so I feel like I *must* do the task right now.

    4. Ask colleagues and teams to set more buffer time between meetings. Especially in a smaller organization or within a team, a boss can start to build a better meeting culture that starts meetings later or ends them earlier so that *everyone* gets a little breather between calls. Most modern email and meetings tooling has this option built in and everyone can benefit from 5 to 10 minutes buffer between meetings for half hour and hour-long meetings respectively.

  102. The island of HR*

    Are you my old boss??
    She was a VP. She was always at least a few minutes late or frazzled or on the phone talking to someone else while joining a Zoom. Regularly would shout out, “shit, I’m late for a candidate/meeting etc,” in the middle of our 1:1’s and jump off mid-conversation with no warning. I had to speed talk with her because I never knew when she’d remember something else and jump. It was pure chaos all the time.
    She was well-liked in so many ways, lovable, and hard-working and she was a real champion for her employees and I learned a lot about business from her, but her being so late, frantic and disorganized was a running joke throughout the organization, I got really good at hoping on calls she couldn’t make with zero warning and running them. No one you work with is going to say “Really, you can’t make it on time again” or “yeah we’re all working hard” or “If you’re so overworked why not prioritize like we have, or delegate” etc, they’re going to say stuff like “No biggie, I know you do so much” or “You’re swamped huh?” or other things to not add more pressure if they see you’re at capacity.

    Like Alison said it’s not good for the org to have a fail point of one person who is doing so much work it can’t be replaced.

    I used to think it was some admirable level of output like she was SO busy and managing so much and knew everything going on. She also used to say she worked nights and weekends & loads of hours when I’ve always been able to get my job done in 35-50 hours a week (start up so it can be intense, and I’ve had to work hard to protect my weekends and nights here!). She ended up being let go in a layoff and I took over her job at a fraction of the cost to the business.

    It turns out I was doing 9/10ths of the work, and she was polishing it up and passing it up the chain. That those nights and weekends were occasional small things and so much of the work could be done faster with more efficiency in google suite, scheduling etc. People really did see her joining everything late as rude/disrespectful, she wasn’t seen as trustworthy or professional, her regularly referencing how much she worked and how much she did for the org didn’t come across as professional or hard-working – she came off as dramatic and like she couldn’t manage it well (by delegating, automating etc). You absolutely CAN make it on time for things with planning.
    Obviously could be a different situation here, but I aways think of her when people push how “well I work so hard, so professional norms/politeness doesn’t apply to me.”

  103. Adds*

    I am reminded of an article I read on “Wait, But Why” about people who are late. That author maintains that there are two kinds of late people: the ones who really just don’t care about anyone else and the Chronically Late Insane Person. They also maintain that the uber-rude ones are actually not as common as you’d think and that most late people fall into the CLIP category.

    Unfortunately, CLIPs *look* like the uber-rude folks, but they’re not bad people. Mostly they just struggle with habitually not being aware of, or severely underestimating/miscalculating, how long it *actually* takes them to do things. They may also struggle to switch gears/tasks because The Instant Gratification Monkey has a hold on them. They usually know they have a problem with this but don’t necessarily know how to fix it in a meaningful way that sticks. (I recommend the article, it’s pretty good. Most of the articles on that site are pretty interesting)

    OP here sounds kind of like a CLIP (except for that comment about “I feel I’ve earned the flexibility with my productivity” which reads terribly but might just be them being hopeful? I dunno). It sounds like OP may need help developing some strategies to help them switch tasks. They’ve attempted it before, so they are aware, they just need to find the one that sticks.

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