I Missed a Meeting and Now Everyone Hates Me

How to manage time zones

As someone who works for a startup with people on the east and west coast of the United States, China, and the EU, scheduling WeChat and Skype calls has become very routine. However, this was not always the case. I definitely have had and am sure will continue to have calendar malfunctions and time miscommunications. However, I have learned a lot about managing best practices for startups and teams working with people across the globe.

I can remember every meeting that I have messed up due to time zones and each time it definitely feels like the end of the world, like I have let someone down, especially since I feel like I am failing whoever I was supposed to meet with, but I remind myself this has happened to everyone. More importantly, I like to learn from this mistake, so I look into why I missed the meeting, did I not mark the time zone, has daylights savings time occurred recently. I try to get to the root of the problem in order to avoid making the same mistake again.

The first time I missed a meeting my calendar was still set to central standard time when it was supposed to be on eastern standard time, so from this I learned to change my google calendar manually as opposed to allowing it to change itself, allowing to have better control. The next time I missed a meeting I thought the US was 13 hours ahead of China instead of 13 hours behind, I now double check new timezones I am having a Skype call with. The third and most recent time I missed a meeting, was because the time changed in the United States but not in China, so it was a 12 hour time difference as opposed to 13 hours, so if I know day lights savings time has happened recently, I check the time scheduled. I also make sure to follow up with the people on the call to make sure we take day lights savings time into account.

I keep track of my meetings with google calendar, and like I alluded to above, the settings can be changed for time adjustments. I like to adjust the time zone manually AND write the time and time zone in when I make the calendar post, so I can adjust it if I know I will be traveling to a new location or back home around the time of the meeting.

In today’s startup world, you need to know how to handle transcontinental communication, so I hope my experiences can provide some insight into how to manage this type of global reach.