Dear Travel Coach
I work for a tour operator and have been promoted to department leader. I get on really well with most of the people there but one man in particular is really bad at time keeping. Although he makes up the minutes when he gets in late he actually uses this against me and says that as long as he gets his work done it does not matter when he’s doing it. I feel that this undermines my position.
C. M (Edinburgh)
The Travel Coach says…
One thing going on here is that your colleague possibly resents your position of responsibility. This needs to be addressed soon and before he damages your reputation within the department and other people begin to share his opinion.
Hand him a typed memo advising him that he will be having a meeting with you and your immediate superior. Ensure a time and place is specified and of course make sure your line manager is on board with you. The idea is for him to expect a warning.
When you start the meeting however begin in a formal but positive tone. Do not refer to him undermining you and do not bring your feelings or sensitivities to the table. Appeal to his professional side by explaining the importance of time in the travel business. He will be grateful that he is not being warned and will warm to you because you are talking to him on an equal level. Stress these points:
We are a company of travel experts – If we don’t know about good time keeping – nobody does.
(Successful) travel is all about timetables, routes and connections
Understand your time and where you are in the scheme of things.
As a tour operator or a travel agent you are one thing; a conduit, and a co-ordinator. Time management in the travel business is harder than in other jobs. This is because suppliers and customers all make demands on you and even if they get it wrong…you get the blame. If a client misses his flight you should have warned him about the traffic problems en-route to the airport. If the transfer bus doesn’t show up – you ought to have arranged for a fleet of taxis to have been there –just in case.
Your wayward colleague must also understand that because of these pressures, coupled with the fact that you are a service company, his (work) time is not his own. It belongs to his clients and his company.
The department counts too.
It is also important to explain that bad time keeping is unfair on his colleagues as they have to cover when he is not there. Making up for lost minutes is a step in the right direction, but the Company and head of department specify working hours for a reason.
Put it to bed.
Another reality is that travel is not a 9 to 5 occupation. The truth is that many of us turn up early and leave late. It is this extra effort and giving of time that ensures clients get the service they demand. Successful travel people hate half finished invoices or “nearly done” itineraries. They get satisfaction from a closed file, a despatched set of documents, a final full stop.