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Admin Pro Forum

Tardiness: What’s the big deal, anyway?

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Question: "There's a member of our four-person admin team who does everything well and is very nice, but she is just never at work on time. Five minutes here, ten minutes there, occasionally fifteen ... maybe it's not a big deal because it's not difficult to catch up over the course of an eight-hour day. But I worry about the example this sets, and I get irritated when I have a question and need to wait for an answer. Do you think this behavior is too minor to risk alienating someone who does a good job by mentioning it? I'm not her supervisor, just a colleague." - Susan, Reservations Agent

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Allison October 19, 2017 at 3:16 pm

I agree with Lea, and am mystified at some of the other responses. I have never worked in an environment that 5 – 15 minutes of flexibility was not afforded, since work often goes over regular hours (past 5 pm). Flex schedules are very common nowadays. My current boss would have zero time for any Admin that came to him to complain about someone that is 5 minutes late, unless they could prove that it actually hinders productivity. Having to wait 5 minutes to ask a question would not impress him either. The conversation would quickly become about why they are monitoring other people’s performance that they don’t supervise, instead of concerning yourself with their own.


Donna July 13, 2017 at 6:24 pm

I have the same issue but my coworker is 1.5 hours late every day and leaves 1 hour early every day. She works a total of 30 hours a week and I’m putting in more than 50 hours each week. We do the same job and sit right across from each other. My boss (which manages her boss) said he has noticed her playing on the internet and coming in late but has done nothing (that I am aware of) to let her supervisor know (there has been no change). We both take the same path to work (we live close to each other). She’s married has a 2-year-old but know her daycare opens up at 6:45 but can’t get into work until 9:30-9:45 every day. What do you do when the big boss notices but does nothing about it, yet requires me to call or text if I’m going to be late into work? I let him know I wanted to work her hours! There has to be some inequity that needs addressed.


MiChaela Mills August 2, 2017 at 5:06 pm

I certainly understand your concerns. I use to work with a co-worker just like that. There were no special circumstances and pre-agreed upon arrangements. I use to work longer hours too. So, I stopped working longer hours, clocked in and out at my regular time. I also would defer people back to her when they wanted me to do her work. They seemed to get noticed by the right people, because it started affected those higher up the food chain.


Liz L July 5, 2017 at 8:57 am

I would check in with your supervisor to see if she has a special arrangement with the organization. Perhaps she is caring for a loved one, or is dealing with commuting issues. Assume good intentions first. Be open and honest with your supervisor to say that this is creating a toxic work environment. However, if I am spending time watching someone else’s time, then I am not doing MY job! So…it’s a double-edged sword. I would bring it up and then you’ll have to let it go. If the organization supports this person, then you need to accept it and move on with your important work.


Macey June 30, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Does she have a special part of her job that factors in her coming in later? I have to go to the post office every morning, so I’m usually not in the office until 8:15. My predecessor would go at 10AM and then come back. I found it just too disruptive and I hated to leave the office after I’d already arrived here . I write 8:00 on my timecard and my boss signs off on them. Plus I never take my breaks, I don’t really take a full lunch, so it all balances out. They get a lot of production out of me and I’m always at work. It doesn’t impact my co-workers very much at all, if I’m not technically HERE at 8am.


Cheryl Warren June 30, 2017 at 1:28 pm

This may be something she has set up with her Supervisor and is honestly none of your business. While annoying, waiting 10-15 minutes for her to answer to a question is more than common and should not be that much of an issue.


Colleen June 30, 2017 at 9:54 am

It is not your place to make a complaint unless it severely limits your ability to complete your job duties on deadline. I would allow your supervisor to handle it – let them notice it themselves. You also don’t want to be seen as being overly concerned with the work habits of others; best to be about your own business.


Shelley Y June 29, 2017 at 10:39 pm

I am a pull no punches kind of person. I have worked for companies where 1 minute late is an “occurrence”. If I was waiting around regularly for this person to handle something, then I would say something like “you are being disrespectful of my time, and it needs to stop”, I would also let her supervisor know that I don’t appreciate it and maybe they should adjust her hours or that she needs to arrange coverage so that there is no disruption in the workflow. Before I did any of that I would ask myself why I let it bother me so much, am I angry because I am waiting around for here or am I being petty and I am really upset with something else?


Sandi Cooper June 29, 2017 at 5:39 pm

You aren’t her supervisor and so you might consider why it bothers you. However, being a manager myself, I find that generally when one person is habitually late like this, it creates discord and resentment with others who come in early or on time. It does come down to being considerate and respectful of your co-workers and your bosses. If it bothers you enough to submit the question, then I would either take the person to lunch and discreetly find out what’s happening in his/her life and why they are consistently late or I would have a very informal and low-key discussion with a common superior about his/her philosophy of coming in on time, with or without mentioning the co-work in question. I recommend asking yourself: How big is this problem really?


Lea June 29, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Okay, I have a totally different perspective. Why are you so concerned about someone else? Is it creating more work for you or do you just resent that she can’t be as timely as you? Either way, it’s not really your concern unless business is impacted. Even then it is her supervisor’s concern. Do what you do and don’t be judging/comparing your virtuous attributes against others. . . it always comes back at you.


Lynn Woodard June 29, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Over my career, I’ve been habitually tardy. Anywhere from 1 – 5 minutes, not usually more than 5. It always caused me stress but the stress didn’t change me. My philosophy was why should I get to work early, I’m not getting paid for it. But I rarely looked at the flip side. If I was 5 minutes late every day for 10 days in a pay period, I was getting paid for working 50 minutes that I didn’t actually work. My tardiness wasn’t intentional, just not thoughtful. In the past two years I’ve tried to be more thoughtful about getting to work on time and maybe even a minute or two early. I think that just like there are morning people and night owls, there are those that show up to work early with a big smile on their face, ready for the day and then there are those of us who, even though we love our jobs, would rather stay in bed another hour!


Anita June 29, 2017 at 5:09 pm

I agree with most of the responses that the team may not have the whole picture of her arrangement with her supervisor. In cases like this I send an email and enter “Urgent” in the subject line when I need a response right away. I would NOT say something like “she’s late again” because that is sarcastic, especially because you do not know why she’s not there. I have a coworker whose actions a few of us disagree with but to me mature behavior is to worry about myself and not what someone else does. I would speak with her directly and ask when the best times to reach her are and plan my communications around that. I have asked my coworker for her mobile number, which she gladly provided.


Heather June 29, 2017 at 4:47 pm

This is a huge issue for me but it is up to her supervisor to address the issue. Because discipline issues are confidential matters between the employee and the supervisor. Her boss may be addressing the issue and you may not be aware of it. You can mention it once to your supervisor and that needs to be end of it. Is there a policy on attendance? If not, there should be. Do you work in a secured building? If so, are you considered on time based on badge logs or is it when you arrive at your desk? What happens if you arrive to your desk and then take 30 minutes getting coffee etc.? Is that late or on-time?


Angela Wiesmore June 29, 2017 at 4:38 pm

I have to agree with the comments before me. This is something better addressed by her supervisor.
I often struggle with this issue because personally speaking, I’m accessible to my boss pretty much 24/7. Although he is respectful of my personal time, there are times and days that I’m working outside of business hours whether I’m answering emails or phone calls – I’m “working”. And of course, no one is tracking that.
So in my head, if I’m walking in at 8:05 or 8:15, I consider that reasonable use of flex time. She may have this pre-arrangement with her supervisor.


Jeannie June 29, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I agree with other replies that you many not know the whole story. Her supervisor should be the one to address this with her if they see a problem with it. You have to think to yourself if pointing this out is worth the trouble it may cause for the team. Also the squeaky wheel isn’t always the best title to have. However if her being late is causing your work to be incomplete because you are filling in for her, then you should discuss this privately with your supervisor.


Kay Klosowski June 29, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Sometimes it depends on the person’s position requirements. There are times I have to stop for supplies or at the Post Office on my way in to work, so the appearance may be that I’m late, but I’m doing work related tasks. Also, I am often at my desk taking care of last minute requests well beyond 5:00 pm, so I either come in a little later or leave a little earlier the next day so I don’t incur overtime.


Angela Wiesmore June 29, 2017 at 4:40 pm

This is true! I run errands for my boss all the time and I consider that work!


Peggy June 29, 2017 at 4:20 pm

I agree with Heather, there may be underlining reasons she is late. Don’t change your ways, and you be the example of being on time. If there is no reason behind her lateness, it will come out. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Unless it shows poorly on you and affects your annual review… let it be.


Linda K June 29, 2017 at 4:18 pm

My office has the same issue. Our summer hours are 7:30 am – 5:00 pm, Monday – Thursday, and 7:30 am – 11:30 am on Friday. The majority of the office are at their desks by 8:00, which is fine with our Assistant Dean. Except for this one staff. Our supervisor has been very firm about this, but at the same time not firm enough.


Cathy June 29, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Oh, it’s a big deal. Who does this person’s work until they decide to show up? One of you. I agree with Mark – if anyone asks where she is, say “She’s late again”; mark her as being late on your sign-out sheet, if you have one; and talk to your supervisor. Our immediate supervisor didn’t see it as a problem for many years. The rest of us complained and finally were able to convenience him that her being late caused our workload to increase because we had to pick up her slack on regularly, even it was for “only” 10-15 minutes. Be sure to put aside the resentment that has built up over time before you talk to your supervisor and point out the inconvenience to all of you & the company as a whole because of this one person being late on a regular, consistent basis.


Mark June 29, 2017 at 11:24 am

To me, regularly coming in to work late is a HUGE deal. I’ve had jobs where I lived five minutes from work, and I’ve had jobs where I had to drive to a train station, take a train, get off the train and take two different buses, then walk a block, And I was still on time every single day without exception. This person, in my opinion, is showing a lack of respect to her employer and her coworkers. BUT, I don’t think it’s a colleague’s place to say something to her about it. This is a supervisor’s job. I wouldn’t say anything, but I also wouldn’t cover for her. I wouldn’t answer her phone, if someone asks where she’s at, I’d just say, “She’s late again”, etc. Hopefully her supervisor will notice this lack of commitment to timeliness and warn her about it.


Heather Parrish June 29, 2017 at 4:09 pm

I agree that it is her supervisor’s job to say something. Her colleagues may not know the whole story. Perhaps she has worked out something with her supervisor, perhaps it is an ADA accommodation, perhaps she works an alternative schedule. If it is having a negative impact on workflow and/or morale, I would hope that the supervisor would provide some explanation to the team. If not, and it is really impeding your or the team’s ability to get the job done, then approach her/your supervisor.


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