• Joe Vandervest

Why Attendance Matters

Why does attendance matter? Why should high school kids know that attendance is important? Why should high school kids develop good attendance habits?

These were questions sent to members via the local Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the local school district.  I love the fact that the school reaches out for a business perspective. More than just lip service to the idea of business and education cooperation.

Why does attendance matter?  

When you first start out in a job, attendance matters. It matters because it shows you care. You care about the work. You care about the workload your teammates  have. In today’s lean staffing times, when you aren’t there - the team has to make up for your absence by working harder.

When you are at work on time your actions tell your  boss, your teammates, and your  organization:  I care and you can count on me, you can trust me to do what I commit to doing.

Being there, being on time, and being ready to work with the team or the group is a fundamental way of saying - I’m part of this, we’re in this together.

As you advance your career and you start getting more responsibilities the nature of attendance changes.  Availability becomes important.

Now, although you may not have to be physically there because you're there via technology, you're still part of the team. You have contributions to make, that you have folks depending on your work, and that you are depending on the work of others.  When you say you’ll be available or when you are scheduled to be available - you need to be available.

Why learn and practice good attendance in high school?

Yeah, I know, it sounds old fashioned, but promptness and attendance are fundamental aspects of professional behavior that evolve into availability, reliability, and ultimately trust.  You do what you say you’ll do, you’ll be where you say you’ll be when you agree you’ll be there. (And if not, you let everyone know well ahead of time.)

Story Time - Why does attendance matter?

One time, I hired a number of guys to help the organization I was working for.  We were moving from one place to another. Each day we met at 7AM in the hotel lobby for breakfast and coffee, then as a group we went over to the job site to pack, wire, unpack, and generally  work our behinds off doing a million things.

They were a bunch of young guys who were put up in a hotel in a city away from home. So many times after work, the guys would go off for dinner and a few beers. I let everyone know that I expected everyone to be at breakfast, ready to go at 7 AM - regardless of what they did on their own time.

How could I expect this? Once upon a time I did that kind of work and partied with the team after work. But, I rolled out of bed and got to work on time because my team, the mission, and my teammates were counting on me.

One time, someone didn’t show up at 0700. We sent one of the team to roust the guy - who said he’d get to the job site later. We had breakfast and went to the job site.  This guy didn’t show up until around 10 AM. In the meantime the entire team had to work harder to make up time, and we fell a little behind schedule.

I talked to him that day - said that this type of behavior was just not acceptable because the work doesn’t wait, and that the team counts on him.  His contribution was needed. If it wasn’t he wouldn’t be on the team. A couple of days later we repeated this same episode. It was as though he didn’t hear me at all. It seemed like he didn’t care enough about the mission or the team   I let him go that same day. Why? Think about it.

So why does attendance matter?

Practicing and building good attendance and promptness when in High School and earlier, is fundamental to developing life skills that will help you later in your professional life.  

Respect your commitments and you respect yourself and those who count on you.

Promptness, attendance, and availability are fundamental to building trust with friends, business associates, work teams, and organizations you are a part of.  Whether you work at a place you love or hate, being prompt and taking your attendance seriously tells the people around you that they can trust what you say. 

Practice it when you’re young - it’s easier to establish good habits.  There will be payoffs later.