It is that time of year again; we are all ready to start anew after the happiness of the holidays, parties, family and friends. Sometime the afternoon the day before going back to work there was that sinking feeling. The party is over. Back to reality tomorrow.
The beginning of the New Year always brings reflection and requires new energy for the tasks ahead. A logical question for all of us to ask is what is it all for? What am I trying to accomplish in my career? Why for heaven’s sake am I in credit as a profession.
Most of us fell into the credit field by sheer accident. When I ask groups of credit people for a show of hands of all having a degree in credit and collections, there is stone silence and you guessed it, no hands. When I ask how many people aspired to go into this field in their youth, the same reaction.
So here we are. Why credit? What can I do in my role that makes me of value to my company and that will help me develop as a credit professional?
There are many reasons why credit and collection management is a terrific role to have in business. How we manage our day to day activities can mean the difference between success and failure. Here are some ideas aimed at channeling your thoughts and to help you become energized for the coming year and maybe years beyond.
It breaks down into four broad points:
Consistently Follow Your Principles
Groucho Marx one said, ” Those are my principles and if you don’t like them, I have others.” Of all positions within a company, the Credit Manager must always apply principles of fairness, honesty and be consistent in approach. The shortest path between a Credit Managers desk and the back door is not a straight line. It is when we waiver in our principles and lose the trust of our business colleagues.
There is an old saying that applies; “Crooked men and women and rivers both follow the path of least resistance.
Take up the challenge and stick to your principles in every business decision. Let your voice be heard. We are not always the decision-makers but we should always articulate what we believe.
Suggested reading on this topic is in the November 24 edition of Newsweek. The cover story is “Heiress in Handcuffs”. It is the story of Lea Fastow and her husband Andy, two individuals at the heart of the recent Enron scandal.
Be a Leader
A credit professional best serves his or her company by being a leader. This applies whether you manage a staff or are alone in your role. Leaders inspire others in the organization to do better.
Five elements of leadership come to mind:
- Project a positive attitude, particularly in times of stress.
- Maintain a sense of urgency as you are confronted with daily business issues.
- Have a steady commitment to excellence.
- Maintain a healthy discontent for the way things are.
- Appreciate the awesome responsibilities of leadership and earn the trust of those around you.
I once had a boss that summed it up pretty well. “Employees not fired with enthusiasm, will be.”
Knowledge is essential to both maintain your principles and to be a leader. Take advantage of professional training and information. CMA members are already one step ahead through participation in trade groups, professional certification programs and Webinars.
Did you ever wonder the meaning of “aggregate excess”? Have you been asked by your manager to explain factoring? Do you know the meaning and importance of a “Certificate of Origin”? How about the criteria best used to detect credit fraud? All these topics are covered on Anscers in the Encyclopedia of Credit. Only a mouse click away. Use these resources to develop the knowledge you need to best serve yourself and your company.
Be an Innovator
It seems old hat now to say the only consistency in our business lives is change. This is truer today than ever. Changes are occurring today radically influencing how we do business tomorrow.
Don’t be intimidated by change. Use it as an opportunity. Take risks. Help your company evolve as an effective service or product provider within its competitive environment.
As always it can not be emphasized enough how by taking advantage of “your” professional association, the CMA, you can be successful in accomplishing these things. CMA Board and staff are here to help you on your way.