Reading time: about 3.2 minutes
Wondering aloud: What happens when you are late to the modern meeting? You know the one. The virtual team meeting. Does anyone notice your tardiness or do they simply assume you forgot to turn on your webcam?
After the heady music of the 1960s and the early 1970s, I found the music that came next, especially in the 1980s, to be bland and uninspiring. It disappointed me how soft Rock had become. No, that does not sound right. I like Soft Rock, done well. What I mean is that Rock and Pop had morphed into something either too syrupy, too insipid, or too formulaic.
And so I switched to classical music.
Here’s the weird bit. Although I have only been to one proper rock concert, I have sat through many symphony concerts, including the lengthy encores. In South Africa.
Here’s the bit that matters. When the symphony conductor was ready to whip the players into action (what did you think the baton was for?) and the audience into silence (don’t you dare cough), the doors to the concert hall were closed.
And guarded by ushers on the outside!
If you were late, tough on you. You waited outside until a natural break occurred in the performance.
Here’s the really, really weird bit. Not once did a conductor repeat a performance for the benefit of latecomers. (Unlike many a corporate meeting I've attended, where latecomers enjoyed an instant replay.)
A few years ago, I attended a performance of Carmina Burana. The composition by Carl Orff, not a reading of the naughty and irreverent medieval collection of poetry. This was in a city in the USA, not in South Africa. Before the start of the performance, I watched people taking selfies and other photos with their never-off smart phones.
I asked an usher what happened to latecomers. “Are they locked out?” “Oh no,” she said, “They come in and stand around at the back, until there is a break in the music.”
That’s democracy for you. “I paid for my ticket. You can’t stop me from using it. Too bad if I disrupt the performance and annoy you.” No wonder classical music thrived under the patronage of kings and other dictators.
I suppose it's just the Rock mentality rolling into classical culture. After all, would you disturb anyone if you were late to a rock concert?
And now performance democracy has gained a foothold in the workplace, most visibly in how we conduct our beloved meetings. You may disrupt any meeting by being late; you may annoy attendees by playing with your smart phone instead of paying attention; you may expect the chairperson to accommodate your whims, including being ill-prepared to take part constructively.
After all, this conductor has no baton.
Below is the original blog post from 2012:
The original blog post: "There Is No Charm in Being Late"
When I was your age and still dating, I was never late to pick up my date. If too early, I cruised around the block until I could knock on her door at exactly the appointed time.
Yes, my dates were such that I did not want to miss a single minute with the latest miss. But to this day, I am never late for a meeting, business or casual.
However, being on time for formal meetings has two serious drawbacks. Wasting time waiting for latecomers and then listening to the meeting chair recap the meeting for the late latecomers.
Many a date who kept me waiting had real charms at play, but I have yet to find the charm in those who keep me waiting at work.
And as for chairpersons who think it polite to recap for latecomers, well, I politely suggest that you are being rude to us who bothered to be on time.
Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.