Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Be punctual

One of my favourite reading...

blog entry from Uncle Lee http://moonlightnightsstarryskies.blogspot.com/

Uncle Lee wrote.....

Punctuality is one of my virtues.
If there is one thing I dislike most people who are not punctual.
As well people who don't keep their appointments.
And people who give excuses.
I don't get upset easily. But make me wait, you will learn about me,...very fast!

This posting is prompted by someone who was supposed to meet me yesterday at 1pm at a coffee shop to discuss something.
I arrived just before 1. I waited 15 minutes. He never showed up.
I went home. 14 miles to and fro!

He phoned my house 1 hour later and before he could finish his excuse, he heard my choicest words a carpenter uses when hitting his thumb with a hammer, and slammed down the phone.
His excuse? "It was snowing".
And he lived only 2 miles away!
I have never been late for school, for work nor any appointments.
And giving excuses is not in my resume.
A lot of my friends, my relatives, my wife, my employees, business associates have learned this.

If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you punctuality.
I have no right to throw away your time, if I do my own.

Leadership by example.
Companies fall prey to active inertia when their hardened commitments channel their response to market changes into existing grooves.
Bosses who don't lead, or set bad examples cause an infectious disease called, 'lackadaisicalaisis'.
Meaning, 'the Boss can do it, so can I'.
Many years ago, my Boss bought a company, saying, "Lee, you know what to do".
A few days before he signed the dotted line, I made some discreet enquiries.
And learned not only the senior management staff were perpetually late for work, but their staff too.
And lots of absenteeism from both. Productivity was below expectations.
That Monday morning I arrived 20 minutes early. Office starts at 8.30am. I sat in the lobby pretending to read the papers, but observed the staff arriving. I had informed security not to mention who I was, or face dismissal.
I was not wearing a tie.
I was mistaken for a salesman waiting to see the purchasing manager.
As I did not know who was who, except some wearing neckties, I noted the clothes they wore.
I observed the way the neckties staff came in, how they behaved, and knew diplomacy will not work, but a shock treatment to wake them up.
That a new Sheriff is now in town.
The receptionist arrived 5 minutes late. I waited another 10 minutes observing the stragglers walking in, joking and chatting like arriving at a holiday resort. It was 8.45am.

I then introduced myself to the receptionist, who then called the General Manager's secretary on my instructions to meet me at the lobby.
I instructed her to call everyone, executives to senior management staff to "be in the conference room in 5 minutes"!
I had done my homework. In my pocket was the names of all the management staff.
About 20 men and women were present in the room when I walked in. Two were missing.
At exactly 5 minutes, I asked the secretary to close the door. I waited a few minutes without saying anything.
There was a knock on the door.
Two senior staff had arrived 5 minutes late. I nodded to her to let them in.
I then introduced myself.
"Gentlemen and ladies, my name is Lee. As you all already know, your company is now under new management.
With immediate effect, anyone arriving 1 minute after 8.30 tomorrow onwards, I want his or her resignation letter!

Anyone leaving the office at one minute before 5pm, I want his or her resignation letter!
If I call for a meeting, you arrive late, I want you to walk out....And I mean out of the gate!
And if I phone and the phone is not answered by three rings, I want whoever to give me his, or her resignation letter!
Unless you have someone close who has passed on, I will not accept any excuses!
Anyone giving or telling me "traffic jam", I want your resignation letter.
And if any of you feel unhappy with what I have just mentioned, you can collect your pay and walk out.
This is a manufacturing company, not a holiday resort".
My Boss received several complaints, verbal and written from a couple of board of directors.
About my not taking any prisoners.
He asked them for their resignation.
They as Board of Directors had allowed the company to self destruct and with a bottom line bleeding red ink.
They were only good for collecting their director's fee, hardly ever stepping into the company.

The company within three months met all objectives. Nobody was late for work or out of the gates before 5pm.
And the phones were answered within two rings.

Keeping appointments. Keeping your word.
I could never think well of a man's intellectual or moral character, if he was habitually unfaithful to his appointments.
We give out work projects to contractors. And unless it was the monsoon time, there was a very strict penalty clause for none completion of project by given date. By the contractor.

Very often I would have a 9am business meeting in Singapore, a 3pm meeting in Penang, a 7pm business dinner discussions in Kota Baru.
I was never late. Arriving home on last flight, past 1am.
Back at the airport next morning at 6am for the 7am flight to another country.
There was a couple of times when a contractor was supposed to be at a meeting with me.
He was late. He kept me waiting 15 minutes.
The project was given out to another contractor.

I make business appointments, locally as well abroad. If it is for 9am next day, in Bangkok, I would have arrived a day earlier, walked in by 8.50am. If local meetings, walking into the office at 10 minutes before appointed time.
Everyone knows of the horrid KL traffic jams. Especially when it rains.
And who lives in KL does not know about Pudu road's well known floods when it rains?
This has been occurring ever since I was in Form 1.
Or the traffic jams on Federal Highway? At 8am to 9am?
Strict punctuality is perhaps the cheapest virtue which can give force to an otherwise utterly insignificant character.
My office starts at 8.30. I wake up at 6.30, leave my house at 7.30....If it rains, I leave earlier.
If I have to fly, I leave for the airport if local flight, 11/2 hour early. If overseas, 2 hours early.
I have business friends who have missed their flights! "Traffic jam".

I do not tolerate people who give excuses.
I have experienced many times of senior staff complaining of too much paper work with the companies we had taken over.
And why they could not be punctual with their work.

What they heard from me......
"Gentlemen, ladies, with immediate effect all reports to me will not exceed 1 page, not more than 3 or max 4 paragraphs.
Once a month.
You will mention what you achieved, what monies you have collected, what will be your next objective.
I have no wish for you to waste my time or your time with excuses.
Anything more than one page will be what the cow has downloaded. All reports to be on my table by 9am every 28th. of the month. We will only have meetings once every quarter.

Any managers holding meetings more than once a month or less, I will take it either he enjoys listening to his voice, or he has nothing else to do, or wishes to look important.
Or he or she is indecisive, dares not make decisions.
As some of you have mentioned about too much paperwork or whatever, please give me a report of what you have done the past 5 days, every hour, 8.30am to 5pm, and I will accordingly allow you to have an assistant".
I never received any.

Then again, how many times we hear or have heard of friends, colleagues, people, even relatives saying, "got no time".
This is the lameness, poorest, the worst excuse anyone can give.
It actually means that person is just lazy, or not interested in whatever.
Invite that person to go shopping, play golf or mahjong, mention about the Designer store in town having a 'Clearance sale, everything half price', and they'll be dressed, ready to go before you can finish whistling 'Bengawan solo'.
I have heard of friends, parents saying, "you know what kids are like when dressing up...".
Sure I know. I have two myself.
I tell everyone if going anywhere, "we leave at 9am".
I will leave anyone behind if they not in the car by then.
My kids were never late dressing again after being left behind twice.
To go see a movie, or for dinner. Once even putting on his pants in the car.
He was 6 years old.
I do not believe in letting children control our time.
And most often when voices don't carry far, lessons have to be taught.

Government experiences.
Apart from Banks, and a few other government departments, many others have staff that treat their workplace more to do their own personal thing. With punctuality never in their minds.

Fielding calls to and fro home, kids, parents, friends, checking their Blackberries or Iphones, do personal emails, conduct their own business selling Avon cosmetics, or fresh water pearls jewellery to colleagues, and in-between, their work responsibilities.
They come to work late, leave for home early.
And.... complain of too much work.

Late for work, but an early appointment with death.
Then there's the tendency to be suicidal. They wake up late.
They just need another 10 minutes of sleep.

No time for breakfast, carry a steaming cup of hot coffee into their cars, or stopping on the way to buy a cup, and donuts, drinking eating in the car while driving. Even catching up on the news, reading the papers.

I see very often cars slamming into each other, or involved with deadly collisions, often fatal.
And the police, ambulance personnel finding hot coffee, half eaten donuts on their dead, crushed, burnt bodies.
There have been many cases of young children being orphaned with parents who cannot spell punctuality, and rush to work and get involved in a fatal accident.
And relatives comforting the kids.
And all because of that extra minutes of under the warm comforter.
The proverb 'Time and tide waits for no one', has great relevance in the present day world. The life span of human beings has increased. Why shorten it because of punctuality not being your virtue.
Time is the most precious resource available.
Wake up early, relax, enjoy your coffee, go to work safe.
Be punctual.
Your kids need you.

Uncle Lee.

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