It is said that the only things that start on time in Guyana are banks and cricket. Not anymore. I have seen quite a few cricket matches of recent where the umpires went out at least ten minutes beyond the scheduled start.
Punctuality is a sign of excellence, someone wrote. If that is the case then standards of excellence are falling throughout the world. A survey in the United Kingdom, for example, found that many managers have problems with the late attendance of the younger members of the workforce.
In Guyana, the problem of workplace lateness is not restricted to the newcomers to the job market. Most businesses in Guyana start work at 8 am. Try calling any office at 8 am and ask for the boss. A great many of the calls will be unanswered. Not just because the boss is not at his desk, but also because his secretary would have most likely not arrived by that time.
The few workers that show up on time go unnoticed. Someone once said that the problem with being punctual is that there is no one to appreciate it.
For over twenty-years, old Jack had arrived promptly at work at 8.00 am. He was never absent and he was never late. Then one day, he did not show up on time. It caused an uproar in the office, causing even Jack’s boss to come out of his office and walk the corridor wondering where was Jack.
Then precisely at 9pm, for the first time after 20 years of being punctual, Jack walked in late. His clothes were dusty and torn, his face bruised, his head busted and his spectacles broken. He dragged himself to the time clock and punched in. Aware that by now, all eyes were on him, he said, “I fell down my stairs. Nearly killed myself.”
To which his boss answered, “And that took you a whole hour?”
When you can have an unappreciative boss like that, why bother to be punctual if you can get away with it.
One of the best managers, that Guyana ever produced, made it his duty to ensure that his staff was on time. He made it his ritual to ensure that he was in early to observe the early birds and the latecomers.
The late comers did not last too long. They were quickly let go, no matter how bright or smart they were. On the other hand, even if you were a slacker on the job and never came late, you were sure to be retained and even promoted.
This great manager once told his staff that they were not to be blamed if they idled on the job. This was their supervisor’s responsibilities. But if they were late, they had to accept the consequences.
He never worried about staff taking long washroom and rest breaks; he hardly refused an offer for time off. But he was intolerant of lateness. Being unpunctual reflected a lack of appreciation and was a symptom of someone lacking personal discipline.
The man always said that the best employees were the most disciplined and if you were not disciplined enough to be on time, you could never be a good employee, no matter how late you stayed after hours. Being on time, for him was the hallmark of excellence.
Some persons however are habitual latecomers. Nothing can motivate them to get out on time. One lady called Fanny was like that. She was always late for work. No matter how much she tried or how often her boss scolded her, she just could not get to work on time. The problem was that she woke up late.
One day, her boss told her that he would fire her unless she stopped being late. Seeing the writing on the wall, Fanny was determined that she would have to wake up early if she was to get to work on time and therefore avoid being fired.
Fanny decided to seek the advice of her doctor. He prescribed her some medication and told her to take one pill before going to bed. She did and woke up feeling well-rested.
Fanny went to work on time. She headed for her bosses office and excitedly told him about the doctor’s prescription and how well it worked. Her boss said, “That is great Fanny, but where were you yesterday?”
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