Collateral Stress

Compulsive behaviors and the negative costs we charge ourselves, in the way of extra tension and stress, can add up over time and cause physical as well as emotional distress. “Compulsive punctuals” are good examples, with their overwhelming need to be on time disrupting traffic with erratic driving and the ultimate distress – road rage. Today, let’s flip that around a bit because there are negative costs to going too far in the opposite direction.

Compulsively punctual people generally cause the extra stress and tension on themselves first, but there can also be a cost to those around them as they basically force others to adhere to their obsessive schedule. While some of us think that constantly being early is not a bad thing, nobody wants to be constantly forced into it, and the effect on work teams can be destructive. It’s not much fun, and when we feel pushed, we tend to push back.

So, what happens when a team member is constantly late? Interestingly enough, that same stress and tension plays out within the group, and the effect is equally destructive. Someone (or more than one) winds up having to cover for the missing member, take up extra duties, and typically find themselves behind on their own work. If it happens often enough, the rest of the group begins to question the late arriver’s commitment to the job and the rest of the team.

If you are a constant “late arriver,” there is a balance to be found, and it begins with a little research. What gets in the way to a smooth on-time arrival? Do you find yourself pulled in too many directions as you get ready for work? If so, a little re-organization of priorities can make all the difference. If on-time arrival is a part of the job description, then assigning priorities to your morning becomes a little easier.

If arriving late is a lifelong pattern, then ask yourself why? Where does it come from? Identifying the source of the behavior puts you halfway toward changing it. And if you truly want to change the behavior, then start creating new pictures of yourself arriving on time –or maybe a little early. Paint the picture of the benefits, focus on those pictures, and watch the behaviors – and those of your work team – change for the better.