Punctuality: 2 extremes

Some years back, I visited Taiwan along with a customer from India for pre-shipment inspection and trials of a machine. We checked in to our hotel rooms one Sunday evening, and were to be picked up by the machine manufacturer’s Sales Manager at 8.30 am the next day. I knew that my customer was a consistently unpunctual person, so I warned him that unpunctuality was looked down upon in Taiwan, hence we should be ready to leave at 8.30 am because the Sales Manager would reach our hotel lobby at exactly 8.30 am. Accordingly, we met in the lobby restaurant at 8.00 am, had a leisurely breakfast and were winding up with coffee at around 8.20 am, when we were informed that “Ms. Chen just telephoned. She is extremely sorry that she will reach 5 minutes late.” For the record, Ms. Chen reached at 8.34 am! The inspection and trials were completed on Friday evening. My customer was amazed to find that, for the next 4 days, Ms. Chen reached our hotel lobby between 8.29 am and 8.30 am every day!

At the other end of the punctuality spectrum was an Accountant in the office where I worked many years back. This gentleman lived just 2 km from the office and had been provided with a motorcycle, but reported about 40 minutes late for work every day! When the Branch Manager questioned him, the Accountant explained that his frequent latecoming was due to some unavoidable domestic work like getting his children ready for school, etc. The Branch Manager decided to resolve the issue by changing the Accountant’s timings from 9.00 – 5.30 to 10.00 – 6.30. This worked for a few weeks. After that, the Accountant started reporting for work at about 10.20 almost every day!!

Would you like people to be like Ms. Chen or like the Accountant?

If Ms. Chen scores 10 on a Punctuality Scale of 0 to 10, while the Accountant scores 0, how much do you score?

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29 thoughts on “Punctuality: 2 extremes

    • That’s pretty good by Indian standards! 🙂

      But for an engineer working in a multinational company? You probably have ISO, TS, TQM, Six Sigma, etc.. I suppose, with JIT, your company has to be 10 or almost 10.

  1. I couldn’t read without commenting. Recently during the atoz april blog challenge, my b post was on Black Man Time or BMT: http//myeverydaypersonal.blogspot.be/
    my statements were that l was black but didn’t follow that time (if at all one existed). l also said l worked with germans who didn’t follow what some call the german clock(punctual).
    l am and have always been a Ms. Chen but well like the accountant, people have them issues:-)

  2. I am guilty of that .. and I dont have any excuse , I seem to always reach my office at 9:05 or 9:08.. between this time .. I have started from home at 8am .. at 7:30 am or at 8:30Am.. I cant understand what it is.. and this only happens going to work in morning ..

    for every other place I have always been on time , rather I make sure to reach 5 minutes in advance.. I hate people who are late and there have been times where I am supposed to meet someone and if they dont come on time , I wait for 5 minutes and I leave ..

  3. that i’m stickler for punctuality is now accepted and even give me half an hour later.
    if it is an official local area network meets, if not started in time i take the chair and conduct the meeting to get it started. when some want to wait for the quorum to get the chief guest to call on mobile.i tell them to get started on time without waiting for him.

  4. I’d rate myself 9. If there is one thing I do not like is being late & will not accept anyone else being late. Problem is it’s fashionable to be late in India. As if the later you are the higher up the social ladder you belong.

  5. You know, its tricky to be punctual. My Dad in-built this concept of being 10 minutes early than 5 minutes late for anything and everything. It worked great till I was a child. Now, as I turned into an adult, while I used to be early, people used to be late. This used to piss me off. I value people’s time and I wish them to value mine as well. I still prefer to be on time for professional appointments, but mostly find people taking it easy and be late. I don’t understand it..still. I have just started accepting it that it’s okay for people to be late.

  6. I prefer to reach at least 10-15 minutes before time so that I can settle down easily and start working peacefully before the crowd comes in. And if I have a genuine problem (like I am having for the next two weeks) and have to reach late or leave early, I inform and take my manager’s and HR head’s approval and get my leaves deducted based on the hours missed at work. One habit of mine for which I have been appreciated frequently and one that I am truly proud of.

  7. I am the accountant. Rather than laziness and complacency, what I suffer from is ‘last minute syndrome’.
    Great article. Taiwanese work ethics seem truly impressive. It has no doubt contributed to their success.

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