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Three Minutes Late...

How many times have you shown up late to roll call?  Or late for a meeting? Or late to training?  We’ve all done it.  Sometimes circumstances get the best of us and we simply can’t do anything about it.  Then there’s the guy who shows up everywhere a half hour early because he REFUSES to be late.  You know what?  Sometimes even he is late.  But unavoidable lateness due to unexpected circumstances isn’t what this is about.  This is about the person who is HABITUALLY a few minutes late to everything.  The good news is that it’s just a few minutes; the bad news is that it actually isn’t.  It’s a big chunk of manpower and labor hours.  Here’s what I’m talking about…

Let’s say your roll call is supposed to start at 0630 because your shift starts at 0700.  There are nine people on your squad and the Sergeant (or Lieutenant) who is holding roll call – so ten people total.  Patrolman Joe Dumptey, how is ALWAYS late to roll call (even when it’s for evening or midnight shift) shows up at 0635.  Everyone else was there and in their place at 0630.  Patrolman Dumptey just wasted five minutes, right?  WRONG.

Do the math.  Patrolman Dumptey just wasted five minutes of NINE people’s time.  That means 45 minutes were wasted.  If you’re an administrator, supervisor or leader of any kind, that should irk you.  If you are one of the officers sitting in that roll call room waiting for Patrolman Dumptey to stroll on in at his leisure, it should SERIOUSLY irk you.

I know.  You’re thinking, “Why?  If I’m not in roll call for that five minutes I’ll be out on the street.  Either way, I’m at work, so why does it matter?”

It matters to the shift that you’re relieving because to them every minute counts.  It matters to the people you may not even be aware of but whose lives you impact anyway: The liquor store manager who is opening his store when you drive by and the sight of your patrol car stops that armed robber from making an attempt; The speeding driver who WOULD go around that school bus picking up kids but he sees your patrol car and doesn’t; the nice old lady that you wave at in front of the convenience store every day who will actually miss you and wonder if everything’s okay just because she missed that wave today.  It matters.

To the “bean counters” – the folks who have to account for budget – it matters; or it should.  That compounded time still gets paid but nothing is shown in return.  In a world where virtually everything is measured by ROI – Return On Investment – someone somewhere wants to know what the agency or community received in return for that 45 minutes of labor that was spent waiting on Patrolman Dumptey.

Fast forward through your career and now you find yourself in the business realm (as an example).  A meeting is called with anywhere from 20 to 100 people involved (if it’s a big presentation) and NOW do the math.  I titled this piece “Three minutes late” because if just ONE person holds up that meeting for three minutes, TWENTY people have burned an hour of combined time.  One hundred people would have burned a combined time of FIVE HOURS.  That amount of wasted labor cost doesn’t go unnoticed.  SOMEONE sees it and isn’t happy.

And honestly?  It aggravates me when meetings start late.  No one is ever going to give me that time back and there HAS to have been something more productive I could have done that sit around and wait for someone who doesn’t have enough respect for me (or others) to show up on time.

So think about that the next time you’re late and you COULD have been on time.  Think about it the next time someone else keeps you waiting for no good apparent reason.

Stay safe!