Recently, CMA hosted an Industry Credit Group meeting where there were only a handful of accounts listed in the past-due report, but the members who attended that meeting told us afterwards that it was one of the best meetings they’d attended. I suppose you’re probably asking yourself why, when the account discussion only lasted 15 minutes, would they say that? Quite easily. Everyone in the meeting brought something to the table.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the meeting. The Group read the antitrust statements and the handful of accounts from the report were discussed. A couple of members chimed in with payment experience about some of those accounts. Then the Group had a round-robin discussion about other accounts they either were having trouble with, or were so new that they didn’t yet enter them into anscers. During that part of the discussion, most accounts that were brought up were common accounts with someone in attendance, and everyone who attended was able to bring valuable information back to their department.
Arguably the most valuable part of the discussion followed, with the discussion topic of the month which segued into a 30-minute best-practices discussion on credit card acceptance in that industry. Everyone in the meeting discussed their company’s experience in accepting credit cards, from beginner to expert, and it was easy to see the value of attending this meeting, judging by the “a-ha!” moments I could see on attendees faces when key discussion points were brought up.
I know that every credit professional is very busy, and in rare occasions you may not have any accounts to bring up for the month’s meeting. Remember, a great Industry Credit Group meeting is more than just an accounts discussion; it’s the opportunity to speak firsthand with those in the same industry as you to see what processes they’re using, to understand their credit policies and procedures and walk away with processes that you can implement in your own business. In this particular example (and I’ve heard countless others like it), this type of information is not available anywhere else except for the Group meeting.
I remind you that even if you don’t have accounts to bring up this month, bring a best-practices question to the meeting or a solution that the others may not have thought of that’s helped your credit department. Your attendance at the meetings is valuable in that you could learn something from your competitor, or present something that could spark another important half-hour discussion.
What will you bring to the table at your next meeting?
Like most managers, credit managers are invited to attend numerous meetings. A friend of mine works for a company where he routinely spends 15 hours a week in what he calls Nice to Know meetings. These are not special meetings called to address and resolve particular issues or concerns, and the most painful to attend is a 4 hour long meeting each Monday in which every department manager provides an update relating to their progress relating to plans, processes and problems.
As the name suggests, a Nice to Know meeting is one in which the information being discussed may not be necessary for attendees to perform their work. The issue that I want to address is how to avoid attending Nice to Know meetings. The first trick I learned is that when I receive an automated invitation to a meeting, rather than accepting or rejecting, I select the third option… which is to tentatively agree to attend. This means if I find the subject matter interesting I might attend unless: (a) I get a better offer or (b) a project or a problem requires my attention or (c) I am too busy to attend, or (d) I am just not in the mood to attend.
Another useful tool is to respond to an invitation with a series of questions, such as these:
Have you published a meeting agenda? If not, please send it to me ASAP so that I can decide if my attendance is necessary
Will I need to attend the entire meeting, or can I attend a portion of it?
What specifically will you need me to share during this meeting?
Do you have any objection if I delegate the task of attending to someone else?
Is there a dial in? I ask this question even if the meeting is down the hall. Why? Because I prefer to attend by phone so I can get other work done while listening to the meeting with my phone muted
I think you will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to avoid attending many Nice to Know meetings. Some of you may be asking if there has been any backlash relating to avoiding Nice to Know meetings. I think the answer depends on the individual. If you tend to isolate yourself anyway, or if your department is ostracized to some degree within your company, you probably want to attend some of the Nice to Know meetings.
What should you do with the time you save by not attending Nice to Know meetings? To most credit managers, I would say this: Try leaving on time once or twice a week. I think you will find it to be a pleasant experience. That’s my opinion. What’s yours?
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.