Thought Leadership

What’s stopping you?

Last year Billing Finance offered all our managers the opportunity to study for the ILM Accredited Customer Service Leadership programme. Afterwards, they were required to give a presentation to me and the rest of the senior management team outlining what they had learnt. In truth, I was not looking forward to the event and was worried about whether my home wifi would cope with the bandwidth and the monotony of hearing 16 people regurgitating the same material.

How wrong I was. Although each manager had received exactly the same training, each one presented in a unique way and I was surprised at how each one felt that different parts of the course were more important than others. It is perhaps too easy to think that we are all part of a sausage factory and that everyone will come out the same. Before the meeting, I thought “this will be a great way to define the Billing Finance way of doing things” but came away thinking “I am so glad that we are not all alike!”

In several ways, it was really beneficial for me to listen to the people who run and manage my company. Firstly, it was good to learn how engaged they are with the business. Of course, some had better presenting and PowerPoint skills than others. But, overall, everyone had invested time in this learning and therefore had invested in the company itself.

Secondly, it was interesting to find out what people had missed out in their presentation. Some managers showed polished pieces of work confidently presented. Others were less refined, exposing some of their weaknesses and personal stories. In truth, it was these cases that really caught my attention. As humans, we are all fragile and what makes us strong is how we cope with what life throws at us, and how we learn new skills to get over these issues. We are all inquisitive, and hearing the journey of learning is more compelling than being a know-it-all.

Oliver Mackaness, Director at Billing Finance

Finally, the most important thing I took away from the exercise is realising that there are lots of things that I don’t know or could do better. Despite my degree and accounting qualification, I have never studied people management, and although I try to be enthusiastic and engaged at all times it is important to ask what are my strengths and weaknesses and what I can do to become a better boss? A few snippets that I took away were:

  • Try to be a FAB leader, which means sometimes you have to be at the front, alongside or behind your team.
  • When we look at customer journeys consider is it a difficult customer or is it actually a situation that everyone would find difficult?
  • Ask “I’m ok  - are you ok?” and be prepared to act if the other person says that they are not ok. Similarly let people know if you are not ok and they are.
  • Delegate objectives rather than just specific tasks.
  • Ask people where they are on the accountability ladder, do they make it happen, find and own solutions and acknowledge reality or look for excuses, blame others and say I don’t know?
  • Coaching builds training. What are the goals, reality, options and will to make change happen?
  • You must always consider the resilience and wellbeing of your team. If your team is not in a good place, it will not perform for you. Always provide the support needed.

Perhaps, the most important thing I took away from the presentations is the question “What’s stopping you?” We all want to be better, but I don’t think we always ask what are the actual things that are stopping us? Sometimes there are hurdles in front of us that prevent us from achieving and other times people or things are pulling us backwards. 

What is stopping Billing Finance being the best car finance company out there? In truth, there are lots of things stopping us, but none of these are insurmountable. One thing I do know is that having a management team who think and act exactly the same is not going to help. I need a diverse team with different skill sets that will help us on that journey.

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