Motivation Is A Key To Success For Collection Agencies

A bit of motivation goes a long way
Motivate your workers. If they have reason to work, a lot more will get done.

Communication is the key to motivating. In collection agencies, this is true because collectors must thoroughly understand their clients, the debtors and the inner workings of the collection agency’s systems in order to be most productive and maximize the likelihood of success on each account. Debt collectors and employees in general like to know what is going on and what to expect. Keep your collectors and employees informed. By communicating regularly with collectors, our collectors feel important and necessary to the process.

One thing that has proven invaluable at our collection agency is having weekly meetings. These meetings give management a chance to regularly inform collectors of what is going on around the agency. It also provides a forum for debt collectors to share ideas or collection techniques that are working or not working. Frequently opening up a dialogue keeps collectors and management talking and leads to better overall communication throughout the organization on a daily basis.

Another benefit of communication is that it gives management a chance to recognize employees for good work. Studies have shown that recognition is sometimes more important to employees than salary. While this is not true for everyone, people in general appreciate being recognized for their accomplishments. Recognition definitely is motivating. At our collection agency, have awards frequently such as “collector of the month,” “highest monthly success rate” and “most accurate and complete month-end status reports.” These awards might come with a small bonus or an increased draw for the subsequent month, and have proven to be very motivational.  Sharing this information on a daily basis during the month creates friendly competition among collectors which boosts productivity.

Managers need to show enthusiasm and passion for their work. We’ve all heard the adage “It starts at the top.” At collection agencies, this definitely holds true. If management is excited about helping its clients successfully collect past due debt, this will help motivate and keep the collectors focused and excited too. If management handles its relationships with clients and debtors respectfully, this will positively influence the collectors and how they choose to relate to clients and debtors.

Managers should work to set individual goals for the collectors who report to them. These goals need to be realistic and reachable. Each collector has strengths and weaknesses. Goals should be geared to improving strengths and reducing weaknesses. There should be measurable benchmarks against which progress can be monitored. Collectors and employees in general like to know what is expected of them. The manager’s job is to help them achieve their goals, while giving them the independence and authority to do their job. If a collector feels he or she has the tools necessary to understand the client’s collection needs, understand the debtor’s situation, and the authority to broker a deal that works for both, then he or she will feel empowered and will more likely succeed in the collection attempt.

Clearly, communication and motivation go hand and hand. Collection agencies need motivated debt collectors who are well informed and know how to do their job. At our collection agency, open communication coupled with excellent, consistent training has enabled us to achieve great collection success.

Discipline Strategies For Collection Agencies

Luckily, this type of punishment isn't necessary
You needn’t apply barbaric disciplinary methods in your collection agency. Here are some tips for establishing a system

Here are some suggestions for how to deal with discipline situations:

  • As soon as a negative situation has been identified, the manager and debt collector should stop and discuss the incident. It is very important to take action as soon as possible because the incident will be fresh in everyone’s mind.
  • Another reason to deal with the issue right away is because waiting or hoping that things will change on their own usually only makes things get worse.
  • Have the discussion in private. Try to keep other people in the surrounding area from knowing what is going on. It is the manager’s job to try to shield the employee from gossip and nosy co-workers.
  • Be very careful not to embarrass the employee. When an employee is embarrassed, this only causes defensiveness and doesn’t help get the collector back on track.
  • Listen carefully to what the collector has to say and try to have a friendly, supportive attitude. Don’t jump to conclusions.
  • Take time to think about what the employee said and weigh all the facts before determining the discipline.
  • Do not keep bringing up the situation again and again. Once the conversation has taken place, determine the discipline and take action. Don’t argue with the employee.
  • At all times, control your emotions. Do not react if the collector loses control. Try to listen carefully and calmly. Hopefully, your calmness will lead the conversation back to reasonableness.
  • Once you have delivered the discipline, attempt to explain to the collector the seriousness of the situation. Explain as clearly as possible what changes are expected in attitude and action. If the debt collector truly understands the changes that are expected, the change is more likely to occur.
  • Ask the collector to explain back to you exactly what is expected of him or her. Try to ascertain if the employee feels he or she is being fairly treated. The chances of a successful discipline outcome go up significantly if the collector feels the discipline is fair.
  • Ask the collector to make a commitment to making the specified improvements and develop a timeline which both the manager and the debt collector agree to.
  • • At a predetermined date, have a follow-up conversation. Hopefully, this will provide the manager an opportunity to give the employee positive feedback.

Agencies, like any operating business, must occasionally discipline employees. Managers who can support and discipline employees before situations get out of hand have a much greater success rate. Use these tips to help discipline when necessary.

Handling Personality Problems At Collection Agencies

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.

Delegation Strategies for Collection Agencies

Our President
Even the President delegates his duties so he can focus on what’s most important

The bottom line is that successful leaders get things done by surrounding themselves with hardworking, loyal employees. If a manager places competent collectors around him or her, this reflects well on the manager. The manager shows confidence in his or her own skills, and confidence in the skills of the collectors reporting to him or her. Ultimately, delegation will enable the manager to move onto more important tasks, including finding ways to make the agency or department run more smoothly and efficiently.

Below are some suggestions for successful delegation:

  • Understand why it is good to delegate. The objectives of delegating are to get the job done, allow you as the manager to do more important work, and enable your agency or department to benefit from increased productivity and efficiency.
  • A manager must study his or her own job and identify exactly what tasks can be delegated. The goal is to delegate as much as possible, leaving the manager only with tasks that no one reporting to him or her can do.
  • Understand that subordinates will make mistakes. When delegating, be sure to clearly communicate exactly what the collector is expected to do, and be ready to take the blame for mistakes that are made. A good manager has his or her employee’s back at all times.
  • Once you have determined what you will be delegating, do it. When delegating, be very specific, and let the collector know what authority you are giving him or her along with the task. Tell others in the agency or department what has been delegated and to who so that there is cooperation extended where necessary to get the job done. Remember, delegation and communication goes hand in hand.
  • Follow-up! Even though you have delegated responsibility and empowered your collectors to do a job, the ultimate responsibility of the task remains with you, the manager. Communicate frequently with your debt collectors and ask them to submit regular status reports on their progress.

Agencies, like any operating business, need capable managers and debt collectors to promote profitability. Managers who can delegate responsibility well will be better able to promote productivity and good morale within their departments.

Empowerment As A Management Skill In Collection Agencies

Photo by: Tara (No last name given)
Empowerment makes the empowered person feel wanted and appreciated.

Empowerment and a solid functioning work environment go hand in hand. When collectors are empowered the way that our collectors have been, they need to know that all the tools they need are available and at their fingertips. They need a state-of-the-art claims data system. They need to have been trained in all facets of the debt collection process and have a well-defined system to follow. All of these things require that management take the time to really understand the collection process and train all collectors to perform the process the same way. If the systems are in place and management is committed to empowering collectors, then collectors have a very good chance of being successful. In our case, we did the hard work of developing a well-defined collection process. Our systems are up-to-date and our collectors have been well-trained. Taken together, we were ready to empower our collectors, and they were ready and eager to be empowered. It is not surprising that so far the change has been successful.

Agencies, like any operating business, need capable managers and debt collectors to promote profitability. Managers who can empower collectors will be better able to promote productivity and good morale within their departments.

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