I work for a medium-sized software consultancy in London. The company employs 300-500 people across multiple locations in Europe.

For the past month or so I've had a lot of trouble with my sleeping schedule, which often causes me to be late. I've been missing dailies regularly, to the point that I've already had a meeting with HR and my boss. They are taking a soft approach with me, showing a lot of flexibility which is appreciated. But they're not happy with the situation. Since then, my punctuality has improved to the point where I don't miss meetings, but I'm still barely making it in for the core hours (10am or earlier).

In that same meeting my boss he had the idea to include me in a new project due to kick off soon, because of my experience with a certain technology. I would be working directly under the CTO.

The meeting with the client was today. My manager, our CTO, another colleague and myself were invited to the client's HQ on the outskirts of London. The CTO and the colleague arrived yesterday afternoon from abroad and we all went for a pint. This morning, I missed my train. I called my manager from the taxi to let him know I would not be making the meeting, and he asked me to go to the office - which is the only thing that he could say.

I've started seeing a professional about the sleep issues. I'm also experimenting with lifestyle changes, but I haven't identified exactly what causes the issue.

From my manager's perspective I'm a resource who can work with a technology, but I'm also someone who indicated that I want to progress my career further in this company, so he did me a huge favour - and took some personal risk - in adding me to the project. I've just proven him wrong.

My credibility is in the toilet. I'd like to re-establish it. I don't want to update my CV, and I hope there is a way to do this without switching jobs. What steps can I take to do this?

Update Just had a meeting with my boss. I received a written warning, for not showing up on time, and for failing to bring up the potential problem the evening before, therefore preventing alternative options. Further, some concrete goals were set, none of them unreasonable (ie. be in by 9:30 latest). Despite the severity of receiving a written warning, I consider myself as having got off light.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 11:07
  • I know people who have very hard constraints on being on time at particular occasions, with very harsh penalties for failure. They taught me one thing: if an appointment is critical (not all of them are), do whatever is necessary to be on time. If you had to be at the outskirts of London, with danger of traffic jams etc., book a hotel for the previous evening and stay close to your target location. This gives you extra flexibility and another layer of security, apart from all the other good advice here. Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 1:34

4 Answers 4


My credibility is in the toilet. I'd like to re-establish it. I don't want to update my CV, and I hope there is a way to do this without switching jobs. What steps can I take to do this?

Your credibility took time to erode. It will take time to recover.

First, talk with your boss. Apologize for missing the important meeting and for repeatedly being late. Explain your plan for rectifying the situation and ask that the company bear with you during this period.

Next, get to the bottom of your sleep issues. Work with your professional to determine if this is a medical issue or something else. Do what you have to do to cure the problem.

Finally, do whatever you have to do so that you are no longer late. Ultimately, the cure for your sleep issues will help. But meanwhile you still need to avoid being late. Don't miss any dailies. Don't miss any core time. Get to work when you are expected to be there. Skip the pints if necessary, get to sleep earlier, set alarms, use your smart speaker, have someone call you in the morning, engage a wakeup service, whatever - take responsibility to be at work on time.

It may be hard and it may take a while. But you need to demonstrate to your employer that you are serious about not letting this affect your work. Then, and only then, will you regain credibility.

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    "engage a wakeup service" is this a thing?? If yes I need it in my life
    – Cris
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 12:11
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    Just looked up this Wakeup Service. Sold.
    – rath
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 12:16
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    @Abion47 As someone with sleep issues, what Joe adviced helped me. Everyone's different. Some advice only works for you, some only works for me. Silencing what doesn't work for you, just means you're stopping others from getting advice that works for them.
    – user44202
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 11:49
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    @user44202 "Get to sleep earlier" promotes a common misconception that is actually harmful to many with sleep issues. I respectfully suggest that if this advice helped you, you did not have sleep issues: you were just going to bed too late. Those of us who do have underlying problems would rather not be lumped into that category! Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 15:31
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    @LightnessRaceswithMonica No, the advice made me think about the other problems in my life that were causing me to go to sleep late and wake up even later. By failing I realized what those problems were. If you think sleeping 12+ hours a day and it taking hours to fall asleep aren't sleep problems then don't lump me in with you. But to say I didn't have sleep problems is just an insult.
    – user44202
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 15:44

Oof... that's got to hurt. As someone who has struggled with sleep issues for basically their entire life I feel your pain.

The bad news is that, as you've already determined this incident stands a good chance of hurting your professional standing. Even the most understanding boss is going to feel a bit irked when an employee misses a client meeting in this manner.

The good news is twofold, firstly they have already shown understanding that this is a medical issue and one that you are actively addressing. Secondly you've realised why missing this meeting is important - this means you have the opportunity to be proactive. Don't wait for your manager to come and see you - go see them first. Explain that you're sorry for missing the meeting, that you understand that this could have put them in an awkward position with the client and reaffirm that you are taking steps aiming to prevent this occurring again and that you are committed to project and the company.

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    At some point words become hollow. Words like My fault, or I'm working to improve this, or Please bear with me, or I promise you this will never happen again. I've already said these things. I can't keep saying them or they get devalued. Anyway, I will have a meeting with my boss. I just got an invitation for the DevOps platform; maybe they decided to keep me on the project, maybe they just forgot to remove my name. We'll see. (for context the meeting is ongoing right now).
    – rath
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 12:29
  • @rath agreed that at some point the words do lose their effectiveness, hopefully if this has only been a month thus far it won't have hit that point. If you've already taken any concrete steps towards a resolution it's worth noting them, even if just to keep them fresh in your mind in the event you get the asked "what are you doing about it?"
    – motosubatsu
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 12:41
  • @rath if you say "it won't happen again" often enough and it keeps happening people are just going to stop believing you.
    – jwenting
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 6:13

My credibility is in the toilet.

I don't think it's that bad, while not showing up is not the best thing in the world, a single incident is not going to tank anything, especially as there were other people in the meeting who, hopefully, carried it on without you and did a stellar job.

I don't want to update my CV, and I hope there is a way to do this without switching jobs.

Good! Caring about your job and wanting to fix things, rather than moving on from the problem shows motivation. Also, it would be a permanent solution to a likely temporary problem.

What steps can I take to do this?

You already seem to be on the right path by both speaking about the issue with HR and the boss and also seeing a professional. This is some sort of health issue you are dealing with, and it seems that the company wants to support you along the way, so make sure to use it. On top of that keep the lines of communications open, be brutally honest about the condition, the steps you are taking and trying to overcome it and see how it goes. Also, make sure that the boss keeps in mind that meeting morning appointments for you currently is an iffy thing, so maybe he should keep off scheduling you for those, at least for now. You can always go back to it when you are better.

And as long as you keep honest with the boss about it, I really think you will do fine. Clearly they want to keep you, and this is just a temporary issue. If it turns out to be a permanent one, then that's a whole other problem, but no need to solve for it now.

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    "For the past month or so I've had a lot of trouble with my sleeping schedule, which often causes me to be late. I've been missing dailies regularly" - it is definitely not a 1-time event.
    – user112799
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 2:41

I've started seeing a professional about the sleep issues.

That is most important thing. Although it might be something trivial, you should not take chances.

I highly recommend that you do a good (full) health check with this occasion, do not focus only on the effects of (not) sleeping.

I have similar problems with regard to sleep and being tired. From this experience I can share with you some information:

  • sources of insomnia: improper food, some (yet) undetected illness / disease / affliction, accumulated stress, some strong expectations about the (near) future, love, ...
  • aids to counter the sleep patterns: avoid coffee / tea / energy drinks in the evening, prefer relaxing "teas" (lime tree, roiboos..), avoid excess of refined sweets (cookies, chocolate), finish the evening shower with the coldest water you have (arms, legs, face should suffice).

My credibility is in the toilet.

Probably not. Of course, people around you are not happy about it, but do not think the problem worse than it is.

From my point of view, the best course of action is to have a F2F meeting with your boss, explain him the situation, together agree to a "roadmap" for you to come back to good performance.

On sleep and health issues, I made some statements here and here also. The other answers are useful too, on those pages.

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    We've already agreed on a Roadmap where I basically committed into coming in on time. I haven't missed any other meetings apart from this important one. I suspect my (recently re-started) smoking might also be a factor. Thanks for this answer (and no, I don't get the downvotes either)
    – rath
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 12:19
  • Yes, smoking can be a very important factor. I had an uncle (may his soul have rest) with a smoking-related issue. Smoking caused him lung problems, not smoking caused him obesity problems. He lived a decently long, active life, but his health was never balanced - requiring medical attention quite often.
    – virolino
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 12:27
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    "sources of insomnia: [..] affection" Hehe I think you meant affliction Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 15:33
  • @LightnessRaceswithMonica: I used the other meaning of "affection". "Affliction" might fit too.
    – virolino
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 5:45
  • Ah ok wasn't aware of that meaning. Seems to be archaic? Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 12:27

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