Being Late


When working with certain high net worth individuals one of the issues that trainee CPOs, especially those coming from the military, often struggle with is that of “flexible” timings.

The concept of having a meeting, appointment or dinner reservation booked and not being at least 5 minutes early for it goes against the grain for most of us. However when working with people who live in the rarefied stratosphere that vast wealth brings, arriving late for dinner just isn’t a problem…in fact arriving fashionably late is actually preferable. Being late demonstrates just how important they are and who holds the power in their relationships with others, be they business or personal.

I have had to spend 20 minutes driving around the block before because traffic was lighter than expected and we arrived early for a meeting. There was no way the principal was going to go inside and potentially have to wait for someone else. In her eyes that would have put her in a weaker position and that wasn’t going to happen.

These little points of protocol and having an understanding of the power plays that occur are important and will set you apart as a professional.

During the first full scale exercise on our CP course the team may have been briefed that the client plans to leave the hotel at 1030 in the morning for a breakfast meeting. The team will dutifully be staged up and ready to go in good time, having previously run the route and carried out their reconnaissance…so far so good.

Sometimes they will be a little over zealous and have cars outside the main entrance, engines running and blocking the way for all other guests some 30 minutes before the planned departure time…that’s ok, a course is the place to make mistakes. A little intervention from the training team and a new, low-key standoff position later, and all is good.

As the departure time draws close and then passes with no sign or word from the principal a little ripple of panic will pass through the team as they discuss what to do next. More often than not one of the team will suggest that the PPO go and knock on the principal’s door and tell him it’s time to leave…after all he may have overslept.

Usually at this point I am monitoring their net and cringing as the hapless PPO goes to get an earful from an irate principal who is perfectly aware of the time and was enjoying some “quality time” with his female companion.

He knows you are all outside ready to go; he’s paying for that. Whether he decides to leave an hour early, an hour late or not bother leaving the hotel at all its is unlikely he will let you know. He will just expect you to be ready.

Quality CP is all about giving the principal as much normality as possible, and if they can’t chill out in a hotel room without being hassled by a CP team desperate to get them to their next engagement on time then there is little hope!

Of course if a principal has expressly asked for a wake up call then that’s a different matter. One long-standing client of mine was always convinced she would oversleep and instructed us to give her a wake up phone call followed exactly 10 minutes later by a knock on the door, whenever she had an appointment or flight to catch. We were told to knock until she opened the door and acknowledged us.

For me the key to a successful day with the principal starts the night before when the PPO says goodnight. You have been to a restaurant, visited a casino and the boss has called it a night and headed home or to their hotel.

There will be a moment when they get out of the car and move to their front door (being held open by a smiling member of the RST) or you have ridden up in the lift and walked them along the corridor to their hotel room, when they will turn around, thank you and say goodnight. This is the time for the PPO to communicate and make sure things start smoothly the following day.

Lets imagine that the next morning the principal has his 1030 meeting planned. We have run the route and know it takes 25 mins. What I wouldn’t say is:

“Sir, you need to leave at 10 am tomorrow for your meeting”

He’s the boss, he doesn’t “need” to do anything. I would rather say something along the lines of:

“Sir, if you still intending to go for your meeting at 1030 tomorrow it’s going to be a 25 minute drive”

At this point he may tell you the meeting is cancelled or set for another time, he may say “great see you at 10”, or he may just nod and wander off into his room…no matter, you have now confirmed that the meeting is on and given him the information he needs in order to be there in time. Now its up to him. He will either be out at 10am the next day and make the meeting, or he will come out at 1030 and be late, he may even decide to bin the meeting altogether and stay in bed…his choice. We’ll be ready to move when he is.

Understanding the psychology of our principals and the sort of dilemmas that a CPO can face is all down to experience. That it why it is so important that an instructor on a CP course actually has some.

This kind of information isn’t covered in the Level 3 CP syllabus, it won’t be in your final exam, but it’s important and should flow forth from your instructor along with countless other top tips and way’s to keep your principal happy and you in a job.

The Galahad Associates CP course covers all of this and more, for more information on our 26 day course please click here



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