A quiet, ninja-like entrance followed by slinking into the open chair that is closest to the door all to avoid drawing attention to their tardiness. A signing on after the meeting has started with camera and microphone off. A grand entrance followed by a justification for the late arrival that really is just an excuse.

Do you work with this person? Are you this person?

Latecomers consistently arrive late and don’t respect the time of others. This is not the same as arriving late for legitimate reasons like a crisis or unexpected situation. But just like the Advocator, Attacker, Blocker, Dominator, or Horseplayer meeting saboteurs, the Latecomer can derail meeting productivity.

As annoying as Latecomer behavior is, it’s important to maintain psychological safety so that meeting objectives can be met. Here are three tips to help you do that.

  1. Start on time. Don’t wait for the Latecomer to start the meeting. If you do wait, you will perpetuate the problem by inadvertently communicating that the behavior is acceptable, This gives others permission to show up late too. Starting on time shows that you value and respect the time of those who did arrive on time. So, if the meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 AM, begin the meeting at 10 AM. If the meeting starts at 1:15 PM, start the meeting at 1:15 PM.
  2. Don’t acknowledge arrival. Since all saboteur behavior is rooted in fear or self-interest, acknowledging the late arrival can feed the fear or self-interest. Stay focused on what is already happening in the meeting and don’t give attention to the Latecomer.
  3. Don’t go backwards to review. Circling back so that the Latecomer is brought up to speed enables their behavior. If this person knows there isn’t any consequence (not punishment) for continuously showing up late, what is the incentive to arrive on time? It’s also disrespectful to the people in the meeting who did make it a priority to show up on time. Keep the meeting moving forward.

Remember that there is a difference between the person who arrives late for legitimate reasons and the person who has a reputation for always being late or believes their own time is more important than the time of others. Don’t let the Latecomer sabotage your meetings.

Is your meeting culture riddled with Latecomer behavior? Let me know. I’d like to help.