As CAs(SA), we are expected to be precise and accurate. Part of our brand is about attention to detail and being fastidious about accuracy – it’s expected. Numbers tell a very important story and a lot of reliance is placed on them when making decisions. They need to be right! Part of this is reflected in the way you show up.

Time keeping is one of the most critical components of this construct. Don’t kid yourself. Arriving late might pre-brand you as slovenly and off purpose. And then there are those who fail to show up at all! Usually this type of creature is too embarrassed to face the consequences and so slinks off to some place where you can’t find them and they compound the damage by not even calling to apologise. These category of souls are the most toxic – they are even unconscious enough to become aggressive if confronted, attempting to turn their tardiness into somehow blaming you!

It is quite distressing to watch people unknowingly trash their brands. As a coach I am always tempted to send the an encouraging email pointing out the impact such poor time keeping has on their professionalism, but I doubt it would be well received.

The thing is that unreliability is a character trait that is never valued. You can bang eggs that, if a person reveals their disregard for time, they will continue to repeat this behaviour in the future. And as for them being able to deliver on accuracy and impeccability? Forget about it! The end result is that they will be disregarded and pushed out.

Of course, one cannot be silly about it. Sometimes people have genuine reasons why they have been unable to be on time (or arrive at all) and reasonability rules the day.

I, for one, believe in being quite gracious with people. I give a lot of latitude. But most executives are more than intolerant.

Then there are those who cancel at the last minute. Picture the scene – you have arranged your time and your mind-set to meet with them and then, poof, it ain’t going to happen. It’s too late to re-arrange your diary so you sit with this gaping chasm aggravated that you could have used the time constructively elsewhere!

Even cancelling a booked appointment should be thought about carefully and only done in extreme cases. Unless you have a close relationship with the person concerned, you leave yourself open to speculation about your credibility and your excuse will not be believed. Expect a cold shoulder if you manage to get in front of them again!

I sometimes wonder how people relate to the impact of messing others around. Here are a few consequences to consider:

  1. Waiting:Late arrivers are frustratingly problematic. They create anxiety and discomfort. When someone blocks off time to meet with you they usually have put other matters on hold. It might be something as simple as taking a run to the store or to shoot up the r. Your poor time-keeping becomes a serious annoyance.
  2. Preparation:Often the person has done some preparation for the meeting. Your arriving late or not at all is multiplier in squandered time as they will need to redo the preparation before they meet with you
  3. Disrespect:Messing with another persons time is disrespectful. It is rude and bad manners.
  4. Risking the relationship:Every time you mess with other people’s time you are hacking away at their patience. Don’t be surprised if one day they simply refuse to meet with you at all. Your trust scorecard gets eroded each time you fail to stick to a commitment. And excuses start to become thin and unbelieved. Eventually the person will walk away.

I’m sure you can think if a few more. The thing is that messing with other peoples time is more expensive than it might first appear. And the price? Trashing your personal brand.