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Motivating the chronically tardy

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in Leaders & Managers

Q. I have an employee who’s chronically late, usually 5 to 10 minutes. When I talk to her about it, she improves for 2 to 3 weeks, but then she slides back. I’ve even tried to dock her pay for each 15-minute increment she misses, but that didn’t work. I don’t want to keep nagging her. Any ideas?

A. First off, stop talking about it with her. The more you bring it up, the more likely she’ll resist. (By now she’s used to hearing you scold her, so your verbal warnings won’t deter her.) Assuming the rest of her performance is fine and you don’t want to go down the probation/ termination path, here are some suggestions: Have her colleagues, especially the co-worker she likes or respects most, put pressure on her to be more punctual. She may pay more attention to a trusted confidante who tells her, “We need you to be here on time. Otherwise, you make it harder on all of us.” Another strategy is to track punctuality for everyone in your office. Example: Post a weekly report that ranks your staff by the number of times they arrived on time. If everyone can see her last-place finish week after week, her pride may kick in and she may improve. Better yet, by tracking punctuality and making the results visible, you don’t have to say a word to make your point.

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