Winning the Gold – Michael Dennis, CBF

English: U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps shows off...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carrying on the Olympic analogies in this Blog, I was watching the medal rounds of the swimming events which, I admit, are my favorite Olympic events.  A couple of the medalists won based on raw talent despite being young and inexperienced in international competition.  However, the majority of the athletes that received medals were experienced, seasoned athletes who won in part because of their physical attributes but also based on their commitment to excellence, practice, and exceptional technique.  I don’t know how many times I heard a commentator say that these winners make it look almost effortless.

Raw talent is rarely enough to win in a race, nor is raw talent or enthusiasm enough for successful negotiations with delinquent debtors.  Debt collection is not just about effort.  Effort and proper technique result in success.  Some people believe that experience is a great teacher.  In the commercial debt collection field, collectors can gain experience through (a) trial and error or (b) on-the-job training.  I am not a proponent of either approach.

Olympic swimming coaches do not allow their athletes to learn by experience; floundering in the deep end before giving them the tools to succeed.  Instead, they observe and study the swimmer’s technique. They point out areas requiring improvement. I think the same approach can and should be used by credit managers.  Specifically, for every member of the credit and collection team, the credit manager (the coach) should:

(1) Observe,

(2) Point out problems

(3) Correct those problems and

(4) Reinforce correct technique which results in better outcomes.

Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM

That’s my opinion.  What’s yours?

Michael Dennis’ Covering Credit Commentary. Michael’s website is

The opinions presented are those of the author.  The opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of CMA, or their Officers and Directors.  Readers are encouraged to evaluate any suggestions or recommendations made, and accept and adopt only those concepts that make sense to them.

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4 Replies to “Winning the Gold – Michael Dennis, CBF”

  1. That describes the role of a mentor. Where a mentor is absent, skill development becomes a DIY project. Beyond dealing with people, I found computer software knowledge (Excel & Access) essential in producing custom reports, and investment knowledge & reading improves credit analysis.

  2. I wish you were my boss 30 years ago, he just handed me an aging and threw me in the pool…lol I’ve always coached my staff by reminding them that it was their job to look at things from the customers side and get inside their head – not the other way around. When I overhear things that might have been handled better, I make suggestions. I teach them a little psychology and point them in the right direction if something is slipping. They each have their own style and implement the parts of your collection do’s and don’ts that work for them. The overall results are excellent.

  3. I am alot like DMarc in that I was thrown into that same pool about 15 years ago and I feel that I have learned to swim quite well on my own. My current position is A/R Credit & Collections Manager. However, I have no degree and am looking to perhaps move on to the next stage in my career. What would you suggest is my next step? I am entertaining returning to school …what kind of courses or programs should I be looking at?

  4. In my opinion, the fast track to a better position in your career is an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, Finance, or Accounting.

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