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Home » Management, Meetings Management

Preventing Meeting Participants From Coming Late Or Leaving During Meetings

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Meeting leaders and attendees are often irritated by the disruption caused by other members who come late to meetings or miss part of the meeting.

The members who showed up for the meeting feel disrespected and that the tardy or leaving member does not value the time of others. Often this meeting disruption can be prevented by establishing some rules for meeting attendance or possible penalties for lack of meeting timeframe loyalty. Below are four ideas for preventing the problems that tardiness and leaving during meetings may cause in meetings.

Groups who stick to their agenda timeframes, especially for starting and ending meetings on time, rarely have tardiness or leaving problems. This is because attendees that may be late know the meeting will start regardless of whether they are there or not. Starting the meeting on time regardless of who is there can make others more aware of time and therefore they start planning to come on time.

Another way to ensure people come for the entire meetings is to have a rule where if someone is not present for a portion of the meeting, they automatically forfeit their representation on any issues or decisions made during the time they are not present. They give up the right to challenge a decision or bring up an issue related to problems that were discussed until it comes up again on a future meeting agenda. There is often a good reason for continuing with the meeting even if everyone is not represented as they should have known the agenda ahead of the meeting date. Using this rule will make others more aware of the importance of attending the meetings and thus they plan other work around their scheduled meetings instead of letting their responsibilities take them away form the meeting.

Meetings where progress and decisions are recorded in a way that is visible to the entire group throughout the meeting timeframe do not have to stop to catch-up attendees who miss part of the meeting. Instead members who are late or step out for a portion of the meeting catch themselves up by reviewing the visible records against where the team is on the agenda. This not only saves time for the people who were in the entire meeting, it also allows the person who missed part of the meeting to join it at the current point rather than being lost during the meeting process.

Some teams choose to charge a late fee or a leave early fee of anywhere between 25 cents tone dollar. The thought being personal cost will cause the person to think before deciding to miss a portion of the meeting. The proceeds from the penalty collection are often used to fund a team celebration at the end of the year or end of project. Please note that sometimes money collection can backfire as some attendees will think it well worth the fee to leave an unproductive meeting or be late due to personally poor planning rather than learning to better plan their time and effectiveness of future meetings.

Every meeting group should consider what ideas for preventing tardiness and leaving during meeting problems apply to their needs. However, the group needs to be aware that they need to be selective in establishing rules for penalties of not adhering to meeting timeframes rather than trying to use every idea. Having rules and a process for enforcing the rules will help all members to feel more respected and to recognize the value other’s time too. Potential irritations caused by other members being late or leaving for part of a meeting will be reduced as all members begin to adhere to the rules and acknowledge the importance of meetings. 

Shirley Lee

Meet the Author Shirley Lee

Shirley Lee has written 73 Articles on Small Business Delivered.

Shirley Fine Lee is a author/consultant/facilitator who helps organizations increase the capacity of employees, systems, and communications to produce results. Her book, "R.A!R.A! A Meeting Wizard's Approach" is a must-have guide that demonstrates effective meeting planning and management

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