A few years ago, I went up to Green Bay, WI to see the Bears play the Packers on a Monday night. My son and I made the trip with my wife’s brother and his son, who live in the LA area but somehow are huge Packers fans. When we arrived at the stadium on Sunday afternoon for a tour, my nephew said, “look at the clock.” I said “OK, it’s 1:15”. Then he said, “look at your watch.” I saw it was 1:00 and remembered about “Lombardi Time.”

The legendary coach ran his meetings and practices on a rigid schedule. He not only expected you to be on time, he expected you to be 15 minutes early. He was known to say “Early is on time. On time is late.” This came to be known as Lombardi Time. Many Green Bay mothers used his lesson at home and raised an entire generation of punctual people!!

How is this relevant in business? Being late or starting late results in bad meetings. When people complain about too many meetings, they really mean too many bad meetings. When your meetings start late, there are several effects. First, it is a time waster. Enough said. Second, it is disrespectful to the meeting organizer and on-time participants. Most companies have some version of “treat others with respect” as one of their values, and this violates that. Third, the late person(s) rush in and are so busy apologizing and making excuses that it disrupts anything productive going on and many times causes a restart or catch-up discussions. The final effect is subtler. Part of having a great meeting is focus and attention. Participants need to “segue” from their daily “in” the business activities and focus “on” the purpose of the meeting. A few quiet minutes or socializing before the meeting starts can help create this transition in mindset.

While I’m at it, another “great meeting” killer is use of technology during the meeting. It is really quite distracting to have someone else checking their email on their phone while you are talking. There is no way that person is truly listening and again, they are not getting out of their “in” the business mindset. I recently ran a half-day workshop for a client where the leader confiscated everyone’s phones—they were available only during breaks. And guess what—the business survived!!

If you want to have great meetings, the first step is to start on time. Run your meetings on Lombardi Time!!