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For self-sufficient professionals, it can be hard to let go of control and share the workload. For some, this leads to recognition and exceptional accomplishments – if things go right.
Oftentimes, though, tasks get forgotten, details are overlooked, and staff experience burnout. In the long run, working groups can be a more efficient way to solve difficult problems or finish big projects.
Why Are Working Groups Good For Debt Collection?
Compliance can be complex. Changing regulations and new court rulings can have an impact on front-line collection activities. Analyzing processes and coming up with solutions that fit your agency may take people from several departments to ensure every angle is examined and no details are overlooked.
The recent release of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) is a perfect example of the need for working groups within collection agencies. As a panelist on a recent webinar, “Enhancing the Consumer Experience Under the CFPB’s Proposed Rule,” Kelly Parsons-O’Brien, President of Pacific Credit Services, discussed how setting up a working group helped her own agency.
The webinar covered the new trend of customer service in debt collection. It highlighted how the consumer experience will become an important differentiator once the NPR standardizes other collection practices.
“A lot of times we talk to our management team and our collectors a lot more from a collectors perspective or a manager or owner perspective,” says Parsons-O’Brien. “But why aren’t we communicating with our staff as consumers?” Creating this working group within her agency led her to ask staff to put themselves in the position of a consumer, or draw from personal experiences as consumers to see how processes look from the outside-in.
Earnest feedback from a team can make a real difference in the outcome of the project. As in Parsons-O’Brien’s case, your agency might be able to approach the topic from an entirely new point of view and make improvements when one person alone might never realize there is an issue.
What Is The Framework Managers Should Provide?
Of course, group work in business will only be successful if there is a framework for members to follow. To assemble a winning team, it’s up to management to establish expectations. Your working groups should know:
Objectives - Clearly explain the reason for the group. Why are they there? What are they expected to accomplish?
Time Frame - How long does the group have to complete their objectives? Are there outside factors dictating the deadline? For example, in the case of the CFPB’s new proposed rule, a working group may be expected to report findings before the close of the comment period.
Findings - How should the group’s findings or conclusion be communicated? Do you want a written report? A presentation? Let the working group know so they have time to not only do their research but provide it in the appropriate format.
Who Should Have Access - It is important to also communicate who the working group’s information is intended for.
- Is the information confidential? Consider restricting discussion to management or certain departments of the office.
- Are the findings for company use only? Most working groups within a company are a way to assess the business, and should not be accessible to outside sources.
- Is there some information that may benefit the public/others in the industry? If your group is assessing the state of your industry, or compiling data that may be useful to colleagues, consider preparing an external report for all other stakeholders.
Other Management Considerations
If you don’t take advantage of group work in your office, take the time to prepare. Before you assemble your team, there are some considerations management needs to weigh. Otherwise, you may realize partially through a project that it won’t be successful.
Working groups are great for identifying issues and discovering creative solutions. But they will fail if not given adequate resources. Do you have the right resources to set up your first group?
- Meeting space - Groups need a quiet, distraction-free place to meet and discuss projects.
- Employees - Be sure you have enough people to cover day-to-day tasks when group members are working.
- Time - Estimate how long the project will take, and how much time it will take for each member to complete their work. Be realistic with your expectations.
Another consideration for a successful working group is the personalities of the members you may choose. Ask yourself:
- What skills are required to accomplish the group’s goals?
- Are there particular people who work well together?
- Are there employees you know don’t mesh well with each other?
Compiling a group based upon who is most available may not be the best choice. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the people you may recruit. Look at backgrounds. Identify introverted and extroverted staff. A good mix of diverse people and personalities will usually yield the most successful results.
Leadership structure can make or break many groups. If no leader is appointed, the group may end up choosing one anyway – many times the most outgoing or strong-willed team member. This can be good, but could just as easily create resentment and discord.
Is your collection agency ready for the technology changes the Bureau’s proposed rule will bring? If not, consider creating a working group now to analyze how digital communication will fit into your current collection processes.
To gain more insight into the benefits of text and email over traditional communication, download this comparison: