Teaching someone to be a collector is a fairly straightforward process because you know at the end of the training, you want those individuals to be able to collect debts, compliantly, empathetically, and persuasively. Teaching someone to be a manager is an entirely different process because at the end of the training, you want someone who can be a leader. And being a leader doesn’t necessarily look the same from person to person and from agency to agency. Teaching people to become managers is more about teaching them how to deal with people, and a panel of experts from across the accounts receivable management industry shared their thoughts and ideas during a webinar recently that was sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning.
Collectors are usually hired to be collectors. Managers are usually individuals that are promoted from within, sometimes they are collectors, but they can also be administrative staff, or work in other areas of a collection or recovery operation. What makes someone a good collector or a good auditor is not necessarily what is going to make that person a good manager, noted Ken Aldrich from Harris & Harris.
“Regular training programs are very process-based,” Aldrich said. “I’m going to show you how to do this step and then this step and then you can make up a decision tree. Whereas management training is often intended to add an entirely new layer of skill or group of skills that are completely unrelated to previous competencies. So you’re teaching them new things that you didn’t hire them for; qualities that they weren’t expected to bring to the company originally. You’re trying to engender that in them rather than develop something that was already there.”
To accomplish that, it’s best for companies to begin with the end in mind, the panelists shared. Sketch out what you want a manager to be able to do and that will help you build a program that teaches those people to do that. Every day as a collector is pretty much the same. Every day as a manager is not. Teaching people to handle as many of the different situations that they are likely to face is an important component of a successful manager training program. Companies also need to not lose sight of the primary function of a manager – making the team around him or her better.
Part of that process is teaching individuals that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as they learn from those mistakes, said Mike DeCarpio of BCA Financial Services.
“You want to put people in the position to make decisions, to be able to execute, and do things that help your business grow, help their career path grow, but also don’t put you or them in a risk situation that that can be detrimental for all of the,” DeCarpio said. “So putting people in place to make decisions, to take actions, to make mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes collectively, it’s all part of the training program.”
The core components of a management training program are likely to include basic ethics — the way you should treat your direct reports, how you should communicate internally and externally, basic coaching tactics, time management — how to prioritize tasks, and then proceed to more advanced topics after that, the panel discussed.
“Management training programs really needs to focus on how do you want your leaders to lead people,” said Cortney Helfrich of Wilber. “People who are going to leave or quit do so because of a bad boss. So as you’re going through the training, it’s not just about doing the job. It’s a lot about dealing with people. Every day is not the same.”
Helfrich shared a story about going to someone with a situation she was dealing with and the person gave her a book to read. She said she read about half of the book before moving on to something else. The leader circled back to her and asked if the book had helped. She said she told him that the book had definitely helped her get through the situation she was dealing with. The leader said he was surprised that she never came back and thanked him for the $50. Confused, she asked him what $50. He had put $50 at the end of the book to see if she would read it all the way through. “I told him that I didn’t say I read the whole book,” she said. “I said I got what I needed out of the part that I read. But if you’re ever interested in seeing if someone’s reading the books that you’re passing them, slide something in the back just to see.”