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Now I Can Say What I Really Think
by Margaret Spencer

Business Credit Concepts
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After thirty years in credit and collection, I retired late last year and now I have the opportunity to say to other credit professionals the things that I could not say before. For example, I believe that the key to success is surrounding yourself with the best people you can find. You might be saying to yourself: That is hardly a revelation. You would be right, but the corollaries to this piece of advice include:

  • Terminate anyone who is not a team player, who is not enthusiastic, who is not doing the job or who will not do the job the way you want it done.

  • If keeping your best employee means promoting them over someone else with more time on the job, then do it. There will be consequences – but this the price you are going to have to pay if you are going to be a leader instead of a manager.

  • Never lower your standards simply to fill a position. Keep the job open until the right candidate presents himself or herself and ignore pressure from your employer to settle for someone that does not meet your minimum qualifications.

Another tip is to make sure there are individual goals as well as department-wide targets. In my experience, most employers are big on individual goals, but tend to assign the departmental goals only to the credit manager. You can be more successful by establishing both individual and team goals. These team goals should mirror the goals assigned to you. Expect resistance to the idea of team goals. It is likely that one or more of your subordinates is going to tell you they cannot control what happens in the department and that it is unfair for them to be evaluated based on how other employees perform. I suggest you tell them that this process is just as fair or unfair to them as it is to you, and that the only way that you can guarantee teamwork is to establish team goals.

If you want something done right, delegate it to the person with the right attitude – and not necessarily to the employee with the best credentials. Assign work to individuals interested in making a positive impression on you and on senior management. It might sound manipulative, but it is not. The person given the assignment has the opportunity to receive the recognition they want. An additional benefit involves the fact that you will be delegating the task to someone who is enthusiastic rather than someone who is resentful.

Stay positive, even if it requires that you avoid a co-worker who is not. Everywhere I have worked, there was always at least one person who did not want to be there. These people always seem to have something negative to say about the company and its plans – or about a coworker or management. These people seem to energy from the people around them, and the only way to avoid the energy drain is to avoid these people. You also risk being labeled a malcontent if you hang around with a malcontent.

In hindsight, I realize I made a number of mistakes along the way that hindered my advancement. For example, I did understand that there is no such thing as an optional company holiday party, picnic or similar event. Not only should credit professionals plan to attend; they should not leave early because their absence being noticed and noted by subordinates and superiors.

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