Dealing with an employee who consistently runs late can cause significant problems. Their behavior affects the rest of the team, demanding a response from you. But what’s the best way to respond in measured and constructive way? 

Everyone runs late once in a while due to traffic, bad weather, or other unforeseen circumstances. However, when lateness becomes a habit, circumstances aren’t to blame. Something more problematic is at work. The tardiness begins to feel like disrespect. This, in turn, can create a frustrating experience that can tempt you to overreact. 

Don’t give in to that temptation. Flashes of anger or an overly-aggressive response are likely to backfire. Instead, you want to enact a constructive policy that gets your employee back on track.

Here are a few points to keep in mind: 

Intervene Early 

Don’t let a problem fester. If someone comes in late (and it isn’t an isolated incident), talk to them about it. Waiting too long to discuss the situation acts as tacit approval. By saying nothing, you are quietly giving permission for them to come in late again. 

Talk to Them About the Problem 

Your first intervention should take the form of a conversation. Different employers have different policies about lateness. Your tardy worker may have had more lenient schedule at their previous job. It might be enough to inform them of your policy and let them know that you need their behavior to change.  

Make Them Understand How Their Behavior Impacts the Team 

Don’t enforce a policy just to enforce it. Communicate the practical consequences. In other words, make it clear how the employee’s lateness impacts everyone’s ability to succeed 

Some workers see lateness as a minor offense. Make them understand how their behavior affects the rest of the team. By underlining the practical impact, you will help them internalize the corporate policy. This appeal to team unity often helps stem the problem. 

Think About the Precedent You’re Setting 

In reacting to this individual employee, keep the team dynamic in mind. Get too lenient and others might start to ignore schedules and policies as well. However, it becomes too harsh, and you might damage morale. Take a measured and considered approach, crafting an appropriate response to the specific situation. 

Develop an Action Plan 

If a conversation doesn’t solve the issue, you’ll have to escalate your response. This involves drafting an action plan to deal with the situation. 

Create a consequence for future lateness. Communicate these to your employee, and track their progress. Balance out the potential negative results of future incidents by encouraging positive behavior as well. If your employee improves, recognize the change by telling them you appreciate their cooperation. 

Creating a dynamic, productive workplace takes firm, but sensitive leadership. It also takes good employees. By finding the right people, you eliminate the need for most forms of discipline or corrective policies. A strong recruiting partner, like SmartTalent, helps you find these enthusiastic, engaged workers. 

Contact SmartTalent today to learn how they can help you build the best possible team.