What to do with a chronic latecomer

Q: I’ve got a perfectly good employee with one annoying habit: He’s chronically late for meetings. I’ve repeatedly asked him why. I get excuses, not answers. I’ve started to disinvite him to meetings, but then he complains that he’s left out. Help!

A: First off, never wait for latecomers. That’s my cardinal rule for meetings. Begin punctually. Cover lots of ground up front. Better yet, give assignments right away and delegate the least appealing project to the person who’s not there on time. If that doesn’t work, establish disincentives (“punishment” sounds too harsh) and let everyone know what’s to lose if they arrive past, say, a five-minute grace period. Setting ground rules for the entire team—not just for the individual who’s always late—helps you adopt a fair strategy and avoid singling someone out.