Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - May 17, 2017

A Tip from Copernicus

We all know that at one time, it was accepted knowledge that the Earth was the center of the universe. We remained still as the sun, moon, and stars moved around us. And to be fair, that was a reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the data available for a long time.

But as more and better information was gathered, some began to suspect that there was something wrong with this picture. And we commonly recognize Copernicus for promoting the theory that the Earth goes around the Sun, rather than being the center of everything.

Now, as you probably know, I spend a lot of time in the classroom training staff in financial services companies. And whether I am at a major credit school, a state association, a "corporate university" for a credit function, or delivering custom seminars for individual clients, I regularly encounter people who think their entire institution revolves around their particular function.

These people are fairly easy to recognize. They don't want to know much about other functions, but they expect people in those other departments to learn a lot about what they do. They complain about what other staff do, or don't do, that has an impact on their work, but they don't spend much time thinking about how shared effort, and even some mutual sacrifice and inconvenience, can do more to reach the goals of the entire organization.

Their world view is limited to the very specific tasks that might be listed in an extended job description. And don't get me wrong, they may perform their tasks very well. But they build mental fences around their jobs and avoid getting "stuck" with anything outside the fence.

As a result, they not only make less of a contribution to the success of the institution than they should, they make others less productive, too.

After all, credit is a team sport. We have all seen talented athletes who think only of themselves (think "ball hog"). They are great performers at whatever sport they play, but they don't think much about how they can help other players on the team perform better. This happens at all levels, from school to college to the pros.

Contrast that with athletes who seem to lift their entire team to a higher level of performance. They are interested in the success of the team. They think it is better to get a little less recognition and a few more wins, rather than being the star in a losing effort.

Commitment to, and a shared understanding of, the credit process can do a great deal to enhance your performance in the competition for credit business. Staff members who focus on the process, and not just their own part in it, boost efficiency and effectiveness. Fewer things are done over, are handled more than once to get them right. Shared information leads to better discussions and better outcomes.

We are all tempted to put our heads down and just focus on our own tasks. That's why individuals should be at least partially evaluated on how they help others work effectively. "Stars" should be recognized for the quality of their interactions with other members of the institution.

The organization that can truly implement team play as a core value embraced by all staff will enjoy a significant competitive advantage through better morale, better efficiency, better decisions, and better customer service.