Monday, May 18, 2015
Dear Chronically Late Student:
I want to address your criticism and disdain over my “poor attitude” concerning your attendance habits. It is clear that you think I’m some sort of ogre for being annoyed at your constant lateness and cavalier attitude towards actually attending class, submitting work by the assigned deadline, or taking an exam at the appointed time.
Let me explain something to you.
This is a class called “Introduction to Business.” It is designed to expose you to the work habits, issues, and dynamics of today’s business world.
Now, I realize that I may be a little bit old-fashioned. In my day (yes, I hear your groans and see your eyes roll), if the train left the Long Island Railroad Station at 7:15am, I did not wander up to the platform at 7:17 and expect it to be waiting for me. And I knew that the excuse, “Sorry, I missed my train” was not an excuse at all. It was a cause for termination. You see, if I am expected to start work at 9:00 am – and if I expect to get paid beginning at 9:00 am – that does not mean I am combing my hair in the bathroom at 9:15 and then wandering over to the coffee machine and getting around to turn on my computer at 9:30. It means I am working at 9:00 am, so when a customer calls with a problem, I am prepared to efficiently and courteously assist them.
So you are correct, I am annoyed when you seem to think that it’s perfectly fine to wander into a 9:00 am class at 9:05, 9:15, or even later, because I should somehow be honored that you chose to show up at all. I don’t care that your gas tank was low, that you burned your toast, or that you didn't anticipate that the snow might cause slower travel times. You are interrupting the class and the flow of learning, and worse, depriving your fellow students of all the wisdom you have to impart on the subject we just discussed (The very subject for which you will demand personal tutoring and explanation just before the exam, at your convenience, of course.)
And that report that was due at the beginning of class on Thursday? No, it’s not “OK if I print it off after class,” or “give it to you tomorrow,” or “just email it over the weekend because my thumb drive wasn’t working right.”
Let me explain: When I worked in an office competing for government grants, we were given strict deadlines – to the minute – to submit our proposals. When a dozen competing proposals came in, had I sauntered in 5 minutes late with our proposal, it wasn’t “OK;” it meant I just blew a chance of securing a 5 million dollar contract for my office. And it also meant that I was incredibly disrespectful to my co-workers, because all of their work on the proposal was for nothing.
And yes, when the UPS man is rushing to pick up your line of next season’s designer clothing for the Fashion Show, and you aren’t ready because “tomorrow is good enough,” you just blew your chance to sell a line of clothing to every department store in the country – and 30 months of pre-planning just went down the drain.
How do you think your co-workers and employer will feel about that?
I suggest you learn this lesson NOW.
Yes, sometimes cats run out the door and get hit by cars. Yes, your child suddenly falls ill. Yes, flat tires happen.
That doesn't mean you get a “freebie.” What it means is that you learn that these are the things that happen in the normal course of life, and if you have a deadline, you plan to meet your deadline ahead of time – you don’t start the night before and then expect a free ride when nothing is ready in the morning. Rushing in at the last minute because it's "on time" is little more than "adequate;" it is the minimum to be expected. It's nothing special.
Perhaps you’re seeking an employer who is a little more lenient than I am.
Better to learn this now than when your mortgage, auto loan, and kid’s soccer tuition depends upon your steady paycheck.
Planning on being self-employed so you don't have to put up with being told what to do? I got news for you: you will need to be even more diligent in your work, because your customers won't stand for the quality of delivery that you have exhibited.
So, call me mean, rigid, and old-fashioned. If I have presented you with a standard that requires you to grow and change – I have done my job. If you're not into that sort of thing, consider dropping the course while you can still get your tuition back.
I’ll bet that's one thing you will do on time…