Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Bothered By Intern Tardiness

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have recently been promoted at my company, and I now directly manage the interns. One of the interns is consistently 10 to 15 minutes late to work. She always stays later than the other interns, but I think she should be prompt instead of making it up later. The company as a whole is relaxed about working hours, but this isn't the example I want set. -- Tick Tock, Seattle

DEAR TICK TOCK: Request a meeting with this intern to learn more about her. Ask her to tell you where she goes to school and what her plans are for the future. Ask her where she lives and if she knows the city well. Tell her you have noticed that she comes to work late every day. She may tell you about a difficult commute. She may say she comes late and works late. Or she may point out that time seems to be flexible at the office.

This is where you can come in with your experience and recommendations. Based on what you know about growing a professional career, point out to her that people who come to work early and who stay late are often the ones who get noticed and promoted in a work environment. Arriving at work late, even in a relaxed office, may be sending a message that is unintentional. Suggest that she treat this internship as if she were making a million dollars a year. What time would she show up to work then? What might she do differently? Suggest that she approach this job and every opportunity as if it were the most important work before her. In this way, she will learn more, earn more and excel.