Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Mar 5 2012   5:34AM GMT

Honoring appointments

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

We meet vendors, consultants, service providers, media persons, or others, as a part of our work we do. Apart from the visitors who drop in impromptu just to say a ‘hello’, others do ask for an appointment. The purpose is clear; they want to ensure that we are available and to assure us that they would come in at the allotted time.
Whenever I had given appointments, I would complete my routine tasks or set aside others in order to keep myself free for the meeting. Whenever the person came in at the appointed time, it always was wonderful to have a focused discussion and end it on time so as to free myself for other tasks that waited for me. It would have been unbecoming of me to make the visitor wait at the reception citing urgent work. Both sides therefore have to honor the time committed by them.
Let us look at the actual scene encountered many a time. All are not so committed and many do not meet the timelines, the defaulter could either be the visitor or the host. In India we say a little delay is always expected, but that ‘little delay’ is left to one’s own definition. Some situations of delay could be genuine but we can always make any delay look genuine by cooking up wonderful excuses. That doesn’t cut ice, however, a delay is a time lost and that cannot be reversed. It will be good to consider situations covering both, the vendor and the CIO.

The vendor-side story
Some vendors/ consultants appear at the appointed time and create a good impression. I have often given additional scores for their punctuality and preferred them over others if they were suited for the work in question. Others, who don’t keep time, have their own characteristics. Some land up late either because they finished late at a prior meeting or miscalculated the travel time or failed to keep a buffer for unforeseen delay on roads. It is often difficult to justify such delays and therefore is a bad practice to follow. A few others are habitual defaulters, start late from their office and have their secretaries call up saying that the person has already started and is on his way. We are expected to condone this small delay and wait for him to come. Some walk in casually, though late, taking advantage of an existing relationship and expect to be excused. Peeved with such attitudes, I had sometimes called off the meeting when people turned up late and the results were dramatic, the same persons landed up on time for the next set of meetings. The lesson here was that we are wrong when we continuously tolerate such violations of time.

The CIO’s tale
He is in most cases, a customer and hence the king. He is the master on such occasions and has the privilege to act pricey. Those who want to be morally right, keep themselves free for the meeting, and receive their visitors on time. I have seen some of them even asking their CEOs to wait for some time as they had already committed time to someone.  In case of any emergency a good CIO would call up the vendor, offer apology and make one of his colleagues to meet the visitor in his absence. Some others however may not go to such great lengths – they hold a view that vendors should understand. Some prefer to attend to issues on hand and make the vendor wait at the reception. Some others pretend to be busy and try to emphasize their importance. I don’t think that is a productive exercise and vendors are not really impressed with such moves.
Honoring appointments, in my opinion, is the reflection of our character. It speaks of the one who keeps his word and is worthy of being trusted. If we are not one of them we would always struggle to make others believe in our good credentials.

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