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Stress Management Tips For Credit Professionals
By: Joanne Dunn, Joanne Dunn & Associates
and Michael C. Dennis M.B.A., C.B.F., L.C.M

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According to one study, over a million people are absent from work on an average workday because of stress related problems, and disability claims are skyrocketing. Stress has a powerful impact on our bodies and minds, and for the credit professional there is no way to eliminate these job related anxieties. The key is to learn how we can manage stress, rather than allowing stress to manage us.

Here are some practical suggestions for better techniques to manage stress:

  • Don't take bad debt losses personally. A wise credit manager once said: "If it isn't my money, I treat it like monopoly money. I want to win the game, but I don't lose any sleep if I don't."

  • Forget about To-Do lists Limit your activities to Must-Do items. Must-Do lists tend to be short, and will help you to focus only on important tasks.

  • Life is too short to dislike what you do. If you truly hate your job, or who you work for, move on. If you are in this situation and don't leave, you are an accident or a heart attack waiting to happen.

  • Look for the balance in your life between work, family, exercise, and leisure activities. All work and no play makes Jack a dull - and stressed out - boy!

  • Put some money away for a rainy day. There is a sense of freedom and security that comes from having six to twelve months' earnings in the bank.

  • Recognize the difference between things that you can control and things you cannot. Let go of the stresses associated with the problems you can't fix.

  • Take breaks. Most credit professionals routinely work through their breaks, and many work through their lunch hour. Instead, take your lunch hour and get away. [If you are concerned about oversleeping, buy an inexpensive travel alarm].

  • The only person not allowed to delegate is Superman. Start actively delegating work to your subordinates. Even if it takes them twice as long to do the job, you're not doing the work -- and that means less stress for you as well as a better trained staff.

  • Try to use some or all of these coping mechanisms:

    • Stop trying to please everyone, and forget about trying to impress people

    • Establish realistic and achievable goals

    • Learn to say No to additional assignments, especially when you are already carrying a heavy workload

    • Recognize that bad debt losses are inevitable

    • Realize that DSO and other measures of your performance will swing up and down over time

    • Don't overreact to criticism from your manager, or your peers, or your customers - and if you make a mistake learn from it

    • Forget about trying to be popular. For credit professionals, it is far more important to be respected as a professional than it is to be liked as a person

    • Expect to have failures at work. [Recognize that no one recently has been able to walk on water]

    • Be willing to ask for help, or to accept it when it is offered.

As a credit professional, this period of economic uncertainty is difficult. Sometimes the work we need to accomplish can seem overwhelming. There are safe ways, and there are unhealthy ways to deal with job related stress. Talking to your friends and family about how you feel is one of the best ways to deal with job stress. If the pressure becomes overwhelming, talking to a doctor or a professional counselor can help.

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