Writing to you from a sidewalk café on a very, very, very beautiful Berlin summer day. I'm drinking a weißweinshorle (that's half white wine, half sparkling water) and just wrapped up a wonderful #entrylevelboss meeting not too far from this here park:
I've been moving s-l-o-w this week. Transitioning out of my hectic travel schedule and into a big month of client work. Transitioning into the summer weather after wearing winter coats in Iceland. Fighting mental molasses the entire way, and I've been late to meet clients two days in a row.
Which is why I feel like a bit of a d*ck, actually. Because today's #entrylevelboss podcast episode is all about how it's cool to be casual, but not at the risk of being unprofessional. And the first rule of being professional is Do Not Be Late.
Oof. Not proud of it, but it happens. Some weeks get the best of you, some days get the best of you. Even when you prepare and leave a little bit early, things happen.
Friends, there is a right way and a wrong way to be late. The right way makes it a non-issue, and the wrong way makes it worse. So, walk with me. Let's go through what to do if you're going to be late to a meeting, a dinner, a day of client work, an informal coffee thing, a whatever.
Absolutely alert the person if you will be more than two minutes behind schedule. You know that saying, "Early is on time and on time is late"? Yeah. That.
Alert the person by text or email. Okay, have to reverse slightly in order to explain this one. Unless I have spoken to my contact the afternoon before, I always send a confirmation email on the morning of an appointment that looks roughly like this:
Meaning that, if I'm going to be late, I'll hit reply on that same chain and say something like this:
Own up to your lateness as soon as possible. It's two hours before your meeting and you know you're already running 20 minutes behind? Send an email immediately.
"Hey Jane, I can already tell I'm running about 20 minutes behind schedule with my day. Can we reschedule for 3:15 instead of 3:00? I apologize, and thanks so much for any flexibility."
Apologize once and be done with it. The more you apologize, the more annoying it gets. I apologize once in the email. As soon as I arrive, I am cheerful and focused and greet them with, "Hi! Thanks so much for your patience. Really appreciate the flexibility today."
And there you have it. Keep your cool. Stay communicative and professional, even while screwing up. It's the way you handle accidents that will subtly speak volumes, trust.