Doilies and Your Mother’s Dishes

April 10, 2016

“When did you get so concerned about doilies and your Mother’s dishes?”, Gandolf asks Bilbo in the first movie instalment of The Hobbit, at a point where Bilbo is looking for an excuse, any excuse, to avoid joining an adventure.

At this point in the story, Bilbo is just the other side of young, tending towards fat and quite please with his life, thank you very much. Why rock that boat?

Sound familiar?

There was a time in our careers (and life) when adventure was what we wanted…and we could drop everything and up and go. Whether it is a spur of the moment vacation, an invitation to a party or to help a friend move, there was no question that we would just head out the door and take part.

Career-wise, when we were younger, we did work that no one else wanted to do (we may or may not have realized that at the time), or we did the “Joe-jobs” that are reserved for the very newest of employees. ‘Things’ were less important, partly because we couldn’t afford them, and anyway we didn’t need them! We had discovered a world that has so much to offer and were just dipping our toes into that world. We were out there ‘doing it’ and though we didn’t mean to be, we were creating those memories that we look back on and consider ‘the good-old-days’.

But once we left that hump behind us and had started to move up at work and settle down at home, things start to change. We started to like where we were, we like and love those who we had met along the way and we started to collect and keep things we like. We start making commitments – children, careers, debts (good and bad) – and so on. In short, by good luck and good management, eventually we created something to protect and preserve.

There is only one word for where we are: “congratulations”!

So why do we often look wistfully back at the good old days? How do we get that feeling back? How do we take the thrill of the unknown from feeling like it is too risky to being something that is fun and that energizes us again?

Here are three small things that can make a big difference:

Trust: there is a fine line between the caution borne of experience (wisdom) and outright cynicism, and we all need to examine where we have drawn that line. Lack of trust can save us a lot of grief but it can also cause us to not seek new friendships or to destroy existing friendships. People hurt us and that hurt is real. If we forgive those people and those circumstances, we free ourselves from carrying around the pile of hurts that can weight us down and stop us from acting.

Things: there is a common saying that when you own too many things, they start to own you. Have you ever hesitated doing something because you did not want to risk making a mess or breaking something? I have! Sometimes it is hard to remember that we bought things to use them and not just to clean them!

Try something new: taking a risk might just mean stepping out of your door and interacting with people: help a friend at a charity; go back to church; take cooking lessons; make an effort to talk to a troubled colleague or start or finish working on that big project that has been gathering dust on your desk.

In The Hobbit, Bilbo crosses half a world and fights dragons and in the process becomes a new and more confident person. By the end of the story he accomplishes great things by making changes in his life, (as opposed to trying to change others).

Our commitment and obligations to the people we love and our work really do keep us from selling up and tramping around the world seeking excitement, and that is not a bad thing (and no, our families and friends are not holding us back)!

But slaying the figurative dragons (small and large) in our own lives in our own small corner of the world can be no less adventurous and can be life changing, if we choose to see it that way.


The Psychologist is In

February 10, 2016

There is a pretty solid foundation in credit procedures on how to collect debt. Call, remind them of their commitment, let them know that there are consequences that could include seizure of property, loss of reputation, etc.

If you think about it, there is some psychology at work. You appeal to the debtor’s sense of obligation or pride, or make them worry about consequences. It is not sophisticated psychology for sure, but the collection industry is built around these practices.

So what other psychology is out there that could be useful to the collector or credit manager? There is a surprising amount of psychology around debt, the accumulation of debt, and how to set things up in advance to facilitate collection.

There is a psychological phenomenon called “anchoring”, where peoples’ judgment is impacted by arbitrary numbers. The online journal Science Daily discusses the 2009 paper by Dr. Neil Stewart (of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick, UK) called “The Cost of Anchoring on Credit–Card Minimum Repayments” where he examined the impact of minimum payment amounts in debtor’s decisions.

Stewart found that those who were planning to pay the entire balance were not impacted by the presence of a minimum payment amount, but those who were not intending to pay the full amount (38% of card holders, according to the study) more often than not opted to pay the minimum balance.

Furthermore, the lower the suggested minimum payment (which vary by credit card), the study found that the average actual payments were lower, even if the debtor could afford to pay more.

Do we as collectors employ this tactic? To a certain extent we do. When setting up a payment plan, best practices say to ask for a higher initial payment to establish commitment of the debtor. Essentially, we set a higher expectation for that first payment, and we do it because it works.

Another study called “Winning the Battle but Losing the War” published in the Journal of Marketing Research highlights consumers’ satisfaction with paying off small debts, even if there is larger or higher interest bearing debts in their portfolio. The psychology of why this happens is drawn from the psychology of decisions and goal pursuit – people are disproportionately impacted by small “losses”. When those “losses” are debts, people often elect to clear up small debts first, thereby creating a sense of progress.

While we as credit managers work to set a manageable credit limit that once reached the debtor can actually pay off ( hopefully all at once) it would be reaching to say we are taking advantage of the psychology around the preference for repayment of small debts. We are simply being practical, matching customer cash flow to expected debt. In fact the ‘Winning the Battle’ study suggests that this is a tactic that debtors will employ when they have multiple debts…and a credit manager would hopefully be able to identify and avoid those kind of customers in the first place!

Putting your mind to it, credit managers could come up with some clever ways to employ this information, and would do so differently for consumer customers than you would for commercial customers. The strategy on how to employ this psychology would flow from having a clear understanding of your customers, their cash flow and their business.

Ultimately this science suggests you make sure you set management credit limits that you enforce, and that when you set minimum payments or payment plans, don’t lowball.

It sounds like credit managers know their psychology!


Fallis Trophy Found!

November 29, 2015

It is amazing what you can find in your basement when you are cleaning out old boxes! Requesting anonymity, this former Chapter President and curler (whose name you just might see in these pictures) found the trophy in a bout of fall cleaning.

The Fallis Trophy just might be the oldest curling trophy in Manitoba, dated 1912 on the main cup, and was first awarded in 1914 (101 years ago), and last awarded in 2006.

The inscription on the cup reads

“The Fallis Trophy, Presented to the Canadian Credit Men’s Association by Mr. W.S. Fallis presented 1912 for Annual Competition”

The Fallis Trophy is now safely on display at National Leasing’s Winnipeg Office.

 


Grad 2105

November 29, 2015

On November 12th, 2015 the Chapter gathered at the Caboto Centre to celebrate our 2015 grad and our student success. It was a great evening and is the centre of our Chapter year – it is what we are about!

Click on the photo to see the name of our winner and of the award!


Membership Report, September 2015

October 17, 2015
The report for the period ended September 2015 is attached. Overall the Manitoba Chapter has 91 members at the end of September (compared to 99 last year).
The change is really a reduction of students. National has reviewed the database and removed students who were not active. Overall we are up 7 paying members and down 14 unpaid members (13 students and 1 honourary member). Through the summer we contacted all unpaid members and associates to remind them to pay their dues.
Click on the image below to enlarge.
Members (Paid) Sep 2015 Members (Unpaid) Sep 2015

Leadership. More Down to Earth, Please.

October 10, 2015

Sound the trumpets! Call the honour guard! Get your cameras! The leader is coming!

Leadership sometimes looks like that, but for those in business, especially larger companies where ‘sightings’ of senior management can be extremely rare, perhaps the festivities are more muted, but that aura around our leaders still exists.

Good or bad, ultimately we find that so many leaders are in fact human after all. More often than with good leaders, poor leaders sometimes find themselves at the centre of some calamity of incompetence which brings them back down to earth in dramatic fashion. Wouldn’t it have been better for them to have just kept their feet on the ground in the first place?

In 1970 Robert K. Greenleaf wrote “The Leader as Servant”, where he talked about a leader whose first chooses to serve, and then chooses to lead as a way to better serve the development of others and their organizations. Their priority is tending to the needs of their colleagues so that they may perform to the best of their abilities, which leads to better results for the company.

The reality is that leaders are on a continuum with one side being ‘jerk’, the other side being ‘inspirational’. I would expect and hope the majority wants to be on the inspirational side.

So how do we get there?

The first task is figuring out where we are on the continuum. Let’s be honest, we will need help with this one. One suggestion by Marshall Goldsmith in his book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” is likely the most powerful way towards self-diagnosis but also the most painful: you need to ask someone.

Receiving honest feedback from subordinates can be a real gut-check. You may find that you are not the inspiration you thought you were. It can be devastating.

Fortunately in his book Marshall outlines techniques to help make this not so painful, and helps you ask the right questions. For instance, rather than ask “what do I do wrong?” you ask “what can I do better?” The positive tone of the question is likely to generate more generous answers.

If there is a trust issue between you and your employees, it may become obvious if the answers to the question are universally neutral or indifferent. Telling your boss your opinion can be ‘career limiting’. If you are “that” type of boss, no one will take too many risks with responses.

When the leader emerges from the holy of holies, his or her feet should touch the ground! Unfortunately no one can do that for them, they have to use all of those skills that got them to where they are to ensure that they deserve to stay there.

If you are the leader you need to pay attention to how you act as a leader, because you can bet everyone else is!


CCP OJT: OMG!

August 10, 2015

“When my 19-year-old called me to find out where the broiler was in our kitchen, I knew I’d let my kids down.” Sarah Willis

If you have ever been trained for a job (some people never get any training), you likely have some memories you would rather forget about a major mistake or embarrassment during that training. If the person training you was a poor trainer or resented the fact that they had to train, your experience was likely even less pleasant, and your memory of that person is likely not very flattering. Is that how you would like to be remembered as you train the next generation of credit staff for your company?

So what could a trade magazine for landscapers teach the desk-bound credit manager? Plenty, if we are to believe Sarah Willis of Landscape Trades magazine. Ms Willis suggests that training approaches, specifically On-the-Job Training (OJT), can be universal, and suggests that there is a 4-stage approach:

  • Keep it simple
    • Put them at ease (no one wants to look dumb). Create a culture where people are not afraid to ask questions, or ask for help, or to try something on their own
    • Show what to do, one step at a time, and explain the reason
    • Let them do it, correct mistakes right away
    • Follow-up, make sure they “got it”
  • Live in the moment
    • Teach one task at a time
    • Teach the task at hand
  • Real-life results
    • If you train in the classroom, ensure you also train in the environment where the work actually happens.
    • Ensure staff know why they are doing what they are doing
  • Invest in success
    • There is a time commitment for trainers, make sure the trainers have the resources to do it right
    • Staff tend to be more confident, and will train new staff in a similar way in which they were trained. Doing it right leads to a well trained work force

Likely the most important is the first step, as it sets the tone for the work to come. Good people do not want to mess up, and it is not fair for them to feel stupid for making rookie mistakes when they are in fact rookies. That experience, good or bad, will be how they treat the people they eventually train (see #4). You could end up with an office full of patient staff, or an office full of mean-spirited people who think humiliation is a good training technique.

When things get crazy at work and you can’t be involved in every decision, your staff will make decisions to get on with their day if you are not there to do it. The two things that will save your bacon will be good procedures and good training.

It is worth doing right!

 

(Source “Teaching quality, speed and efficiency on the job”, Page 4, 6,7, Landscape Trades, June 2012. http://www.landscapetrades.com/)


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