Handling Personality Problems At Collection Agencies

By Dean Kaplan+

Good management skills help collection agencies and companies in general to stay competitive and successful. The term “management skills” is a broad category which includes motivating, disciplining as well as dealing with personality problems occasionally. This is the third of five articles dealing with how excellent management skills lead to increased success for agencies and credit departments.

Each debt collector has his or her own unique personality. Personalities are developed over a lifetime, so expecting to significantly change someone’s personality is very unrealistic and essentially impossible. When a collector has a personality problem, it usually stems from strong reactions and emotions relating to different work situations. Personality traits can range from feelings that the world is against them to extreme aggression, hostility, submissiveness or dependency. Because of the variety of personality traits out there, the manager’s job can be very challenging to say the least.

Conflicts waste time and energy

Don't waste time and energy arguing with your employees. Deal with personality conflicts and get more done

How a manager handles debt collectors with these extreme personality traits will determine whether or not a human relations problem will develop. Here are some strategies to use when dealing with sticky personality problems.

• Whenever possible, avoid dealing with a debt collector’s personality problems on an emotional level. This does not mean you should avoid or ignore the person, it simply means knowing your boundaries when managing. You are paid to do a job, not be a counselor or emotional backboard for the employee to hit against.
• Emotional problems require professional help. If applicable, suggest counseling, and recommend the Human Resources Department as a resource for identifying company benefits relating to mental health.
• Do not allow yourself to become emotionally invested with the collector exhibiting personality problems. In addition, discourage the collector’s co-workers from getting emotionally involved. These situations typically become huge time and emotion sucks, and rarely if ever have a positive outcome.
• If you identify a debt collector with a particularly strong personality trait, attempt to team him or her up with other debt collectors with similar personalities. If you can find compatible collectors to team up, this is may be more productive than teaming an aggressive person for example with a very passive person.
• There may be times, however, when teaming a somewhat timid collector with a very confident one, may be appropriate. In this case, the timid collector may gain confidence and experience from observing and working next to the confident collector. A manager must understand the needs of his or her employees. This understanding will help the manager develop working strategies that emphasize the strengths of employees and minimize the weaknesses.
Some agencies seat their debt collectors together in an open area. This can enhance team work, however, it also can exacerbate conflict when personality problems exist. As managers in this scenario, it is imperative to be constantly on the lookout for issues putting downward pressure on productivity. When a situation is identified, act quickly by implementing the appropriate tips discussed above. Take action quickly to avoid an escalating human relations problem.

Agencies, like any operating business, must deal with personality problems occasionally. Managers who can positively handle personality problems will be better able to promote productivity within their departments. Click here if you missed the first article in this series Motivation Is A Key To Success For Collection Agencies. Click here you missed the second article in the series, Discipline Strategies for the Collection Agency. Click here if you’re ready to go onto the fourth article in the series Delegation Strategies For Collection Agencies.

The Kaplan Group is a boutique collection agency specializing in large (over $10,000) debt collections due from businesses. Founded in 1991, the company has a stellar reputation (A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau) and is recognized as one of the leading collection agencies for results on large and complex matters.

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