Consistently 5 Minutes Late: OK or Not?

Client annoyed about timeWe’ve all been on those conference calls – where you’re listening to hold music and wondering if you got the time wrong while waiting for the leader to show up.

If you’re the project manager in charge of starting the call, is this OK? I vote not. Especially when the meeting is with a client.

Even if you email 2 minutes ahead and say you’re running late… even if the client himself is usually 5 minutes late, it really isn’t OK for the project manager to be late to start the meeting.

The client’s time is valuable, and its better for the PM and the project not to waste it. Being late is like saying that the client is not important enough for you to show up on time.  Saying that you were tied up doing something else doesn’t help since that just means some other project, client, or task is more important than the meeting.

No matter how busy, or how much internal stuff there is to do, it pays to put the clients first. For those of us who work where projects are the company’s business, it is easy to make a great argument for why work should be prioritized this way. If the issue is time management, those outlook reminders can help. In those rare situations when running late is unavoidable or if there is a history of chronic lateness, it can help to give someone else on the team the leader code so they can start the call. Better that than to let everyone sit there wasting time listening to hold music and wondering if the meeting is still on.

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