When I was still working in an office, one of the things I trained my staff to do was not to stop me with last-minute things just when I was on my way out of the office.
You know those last-minute things, right? Like asking you to sign something, or discuss something, show you something, etc. right when you’re on you way out of the office! I mean, why wait to do these things just when you’re leaving?!!
I made it clear to my staff that they could intercept me only if it was absolutely necessary. Otherwise they’d have to wait the next day.
I wanted to teach them to be disciplined, to act promptly on things that had to be taken up with me while I was still in the office — not when I was about to step out!
Why is it bad manners (and selfish) to delay your superior (or even your co-worker) when he’s already on his way out of the office?
1. You could make him late for his next appointment.
2. Maybe he’s trying to beat the traffic and the five minutes you’re making him stay longer can cost him an hour of being stuck in traffic just because you delayed him.
3. You might cause other people to wait — maybe his family is waiting downstairs, in the car; maybe his driver is already waiting in the driveway and will have to drive around, again and again, until you’re done delaying his boss.
4. You’re making others pay for your procrastination. Why didn’t you do what you had to do when the person was in the office the whole time???
It’s grossly disrespectful and thoughtless to delay anyone just because you didn’t think of doing your thing earlier.
Of course, if you’re the boss, you have more leeway to delay or intercept your staff. As a rule, subordinates must adjust to their bosses’ schedule.
But at the end of the day, each person’s time is precious. We have no right to squander it.
So please remember — unless it’s extremely necessary, do not delay or intercept a person who’s on his way out of the office, or leaving a social function — especially your boss. It’s terribly, terribly bad manners.
If you agree with me, please spread the word. Better yet, make it part of your work ethic in the office! That way, you’ll help annihilate this annoying practice.
As a rule, this is a good thing to remember: never inconvenience someone just because it’s convenient for you!
During this new normal when most meetings are done online, you can tweak this by remembering: As a courtesy to everyone else in a meeting, discuss things pertaining to you and one person PRIVATELY. One on one. Don’t waste other people’s time by bringing up something in a meeting that doesn’t concern them at all.
When an issue or item is important to just a few of you, set up a separate meeting for that. Again, don’t waste other people’s time.
During online meetings, don’t think you can waste other people’s time just because you’re all working from home. Keep your answers short. To the point. And for goodness’ sake, don’t ramble or meander. Stick to the topic.
If you’re the boss or the person in control of a meeting, quickly but politely cut short anyone who’s talking too long, or talking nonsense. Again, spare all of you this waste of time.
Don’t ask stupid questions either. Again that’s wasting time. Do your homework before attending meetings — read the memos, list down your major concerns, your questions, and cross them out as they’re answered during the meeting. Don’t bring up tedious details, unnecessary issues, or useless questions that’ll just lengthen the discussion.
Whether you’re in the office physically or you’re working from home, mind your manners: Don’t waste other people’s time. This is a common courtesy we should extend to each other.