One of our readers, Ron, sent us a guest article recently reminding us that Project Managers and leaders affect us all when they do not stick to their schedule, or change meeting times at the last minute. Thanks Ron! You will receive a free coffee cup for the article – we really appreciate it!
In my experience one of the hallmarks of a good leader is their ability to manage their schedule. Whether that is through their extraordinary effort or that of a seasoned assistant does not matter. How others judge our leadership ability will always be the sum of our personal leadership ability and the skill of those we surround ourselves with.
Two years ago I read a great article written by Mark Suster on Both Sides of the Table detailing the right way to cancel a meeting. Many of the points Mr. Suster makes about the importance of maintaining your obligations to business colleagues concerning scheduled meetings apply well to your relationship to your subordinates in regards to scheduled meetings.
Nothing tells your subordinates that they are unimportant more than constantly rescheduling staff meetings. Infrequent cancellations and delays are part of doing business, but when they become the rule rather than the exception, then the perception that your staff is unimportant becomes reality.
Your staff works their schedule around the meetings that you schedule with them. They might schedule where they are physically or if they will even be in the office that day. If you are scheduling a staff function or meeting on their regular day off and expect them to be there, then you had better start on time and never cancel.
With a little manipulation of Mr. Suster’s rules for canceling a meeting, here are my rules for sticking to your office schedule:
1. If you need to reschedule do it a few days in advance – Whether you do your own scheduling or whether you have an assistant, a polite email to reschedule the meeting accompanied with an actual explanation for the delay is usually prudent. Knowing your audience/staff and whether they are traveling or shifting days off to attend is critical. Write this information into the calendar entry so that you or your assistant know it and can question whether it is best to reschedule.
2. If you have to make a change the day before or day of the meeting it should be for a very compelling reason – It happens and we accept it, but the amount of time wasted by this type of rescheduling can become crippling. Wasted resources are an issue but may be subordinate to the loss of interest by your staff. When you frequently reschedule in this manner you undermine the importance of the meeting itself and eventually the staff will regard any meeting you schedule as unimportant unless it is a personal meeting.
3. Within an hour of the meeting or rescheduling for a third or fourth time – The sky better by falling. Just don’t do it.
If you cannot manage your time throughout the day and keep your schedule on pace then you should consider hiring an assistant to help. If you have an assistant and you are still unable to execute the basic leadership skills of time management, you have two options; hire a new assistant or look for a different line of work.
If you have thoughts on how to improve the working enviornment for the “Monkeys in the Middle”, send us an article at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then you too will receive a shiny new Save the Monkey in the Middle coffee mug!