A client in the construction industry has tried to get his staff to perform at a higher level — he wants them to follow procedures. One of those is, he wants all staff to be at the morning briefing on time, each with a written plan for the day.
His people usually don’t turn in their daily written plans at all. When they do, they’re prepared at the very last moment, with low quality. The meeting itself doesn’t start on time.
How can he get better compliance?
I had a similar challenge recently with a networking group I belonged to. We were supposed to all be there by 7:00 a.m. to network, and then start the formal structured meeting at 7:15. In reality people arrived around 7:14, so the networking time was not well used.
I took these steps:
1. I asked during the formal meeting if the members wanted to be held accountable to starting on time at 7:00 a.m. as our own rules called for. Everyone agreed that they did.
2. Having gotten agreement, I made a point of showing up early, and at 7:00 I would position myself next to the door. To each person who arrived after that time, I would cheerfully greet them and ask them what time their watch or cell phone showed.
That was my entire intervention. Within two meetings, everyone was on time or very close. I heard one member saying his wife had badgered him into leaving the house faster because she “didn’t want to walk past Tom after 7:00 a.m.”
Needless to say, I had to be on time too — I caught double grief if I came even close to being late. I’d volunteered to be the “on-time” monitor, which meant I had to lead by example. (That happens a lot in leadership positions — get used to it.)
After telling my client this story, I suggested he do something a bit similar, using another technique I call “linkage” — when his meeting is due to start, he should stand up and ask who was prepared with their completed daily plan. He announces that the meeting cannot start until all the plans are completed.
This creates an awkward silence, and social pressure on the slow or late performers to hurry up. It also sends a message to all the good workers that they were right to be on time, and that being on time is important to the boss.