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Comments About Credit Management
By Troy Anglin

  • Credit management is not for the faint hearted. People will disagree with your decisions, and the sooner you accept this as inevitable the sooner you will stop worrying every time it happens. If you cannot handle confrontation, it is time to look for another line of work.

  • Remember also that if a controversial decision turns out to be correct, the response is likely to be: "That's what we pay you for." If the decision turns out to be wrong, count on being second-guesses with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. Based on these realities, credit professionals have to do what they believe is correct and allow the chips to fall where they may.

  • 80% of the credit decisions you make can and will be made in a short period of time and with very little thought. The other 20% of the decisions you make is what your employer is really paying you to do. It's the ability to make these tough calls that separates the mediocre from the outstanding credit professional.

  • Once you have made a tough call, don't hedge your bets with 'weasel words' that make it appear that you are unsure of the decision. Recognize that once the decision is made, the hard part is over. Finish the job by announcing your decision in clear and unambiguous language.

  • Don't wait for 'perfect information' to make a credit decision. Once you have enough information to make a decision, act.

  • Managers that recognize and reward mediocre performance are guaranteed of one thing...that they will drive a wedge between themselves and their star performers. Remember this: Mediocre/average work should be unacceptable. Good quality work should be the least you will accept. Superior work should be expected; and exceptional or outstanding effort and accomplishments should be recognized and rewarded.

  • The moment you start "shooting the messengers" who bring you bad news is the moment you start encouraging your subordinates to hide their problems and mistakes instead of bringing them to you to help solve them.

  • Strong managers encourage their subordinates to develop. Weak managers are threatened by assertive, motivated, and ambitious subordinates who they see as a potential threat. Because of their own fear of inadequacy, weak managers do what they can to discourage, de-motivate or derail star performers.

  • A credit manager should always be ready to roll up his or her sleeves and jump in when something needs to get done. A good manager will often come away with fresh insights about how things are being done and how they could be done better in the future. In other words, you can't lead from the rear.

  • Don't fall into the trap of allowing your subordinates to delegate upward. Often, substandard employees try to get their manager to make all of the difficult decisions; to handle the tough questions; and deal with 'their' irate customers. Weak managers relish the opportunity to 'take over' when a subordinate is struggling. The best managers know that bailing out poor performers hurts the credit department rather than helping it in the long term.

  • The only thing worse than hiring the wrong person is keeping the wrong person. Learn to cut your losses --- and make your decision to terminate the individual sooner rather than later.

  • Remember the old saying: "A zebra can't change his stripes." Get rid of subordinates with bad attitudes. Forget about trying to change them for the better. These employees will suck the energy out of their manager, and poison the work environment for their co-workers if you let them stay.

  • If you view your career as being at a standstill, you are probably being far too optimistic. If your career is languishing, you are in serious danger of becoming obsolete, and expendable. What should you do? Ask for more responsibilities. Demonstrate an interest in learning new skills. Start moving now --- before someone starts moving you in a direction you don't want to go.

  • There is an old saying which is particularly applicable about credit management. It is: "Victory has many fathers, while defeat is an orphan."

One final thought: In my thirty years, I met a number of credit managers who confided in me that they hated their jobs. Life is too short to do a job that you if you hate what you do start planning your exit strategy today!

Troy Anglin is a credit professional with more than 30 years of experience. He recently retired from his position as Credit Manager for Radiator Specialty Company. He offers the following insights about the credit management profession:

Reprinted with permission from the Covering Credit Newsletter 3/28/03 Edition

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