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May 01 2017
What Makes a Great Manager?
Kandie Haymore, CBF, Midwest Floor Coverings, Inc.

We've all heard the saying "I didn't choose credit, credit chose me." I am the perfect example of this statement. I was working in what really was a dead-end job. I had been with my company for about four years. Every time I worked towards a new goal a door would close, and I would be devastated. I was spinning my wheels trying to fit into something that would never happen.  After the ladder I had been trying so hard to climb came crashing down, the credit manager pulled me aside and asked me to be her assistant. I had so many hesitations about being in credit. I was scared of the phone, of people being rude when I called to collect payments and making mistakes. As if my own self-doubt wasn't enough, I had been told that the reason I didn't get one position or another was that I was a "people-pleaser." So how would this people-pleaser ever make it in credit, where you often have to hold your ground or get trampled on? As I thought about it, there was no reason I couldn't be good at this. It was a challenge, and I was up to the task. I wanted something I could accomplish and be proud of to better myself, my family and whatever company I work for. Besides, if you are going to spend eight hours a day doing a job, it should be something you can get a sense of accomplishment from.   

I watched how my credit manager and mentor handled every day stresses and soon began to see that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. As I learned the ins and outs of the credit world, I wanted to excel at it and one day become a credit manager myself. When I was given the opportunity to move to this position, I looked at what it would take to be a great manager and what I wanted to accomplish by taking on this challenge. Here are a few of the things I've learned along the way.

Listen closely. A good manager must also be a good listener. We must listen to our customers, sales (sometimes), upper management, our team and our gut. Everyone has their own side of the story, although we may not always see eye to eye, a good listener can work with others to find a solution that is best for everyone. 

Be a detective. Coming from a law enforcement household, I quickly learned that those detective skills my Dad taught me would become handy in my new career. Whether its hunting down the customer who bounced a check or finding info on an account that has suddenly disappeared, the world wide inter-web contains a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips

Be resourceful. Sometimes our credit and collection practices require some creative thinking to work our magic. I would be willing to bet at one time or another all of us have used *67 to block our numbers so an evasive customer would answer our calls. Even creativity working out payment arrangements can be like a game of chess some days.

Be real. I found that my people-pleaser personality is not a bad thing. I am able to work to find an outcome that is good for everyone. I also learned quickly that I have a voice and an opinion and at the right time, it's ok to use both. It takes being flexible, making hard decisions, and finding ways to minimize the risk but still help grow the business. 

Laugh. Laugh at the situation, at the crazy things people say or do, and most important, laugh at yourself. The day in day out stuff can drag us down; finding that one gut-wrenching side-splitting laugh now and again is the best medicine ever! If you ever need a good laugh, call me I have plenty to share. After all, some of the things we experience not even the best comedy writer could make up.

Last but not least, learn. Learn from mistakes, from watching others, and from peers. We are given this life to grow and become the best we can be. Some of the greatest lessons are those of trial and error. Thank goodness we have other people who are swimming this ocean with us to give us inspiration, criticism, and some gentle nudges along the way. Knowledge is power. The education classes offered for our field are exceptional. Take advantage of them every chance you get. Maybe you'll even learn something new, or find a new spin on an old practice.

As it turns out, credit isn't the scary monster I once thought it was. It has given me so much personally and professionally. So even though this isn't the path I would have chosen I am always grateful it chose me.