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Guest blog by David Sheridan MICM – ‘Bonuses for being normal’

28 August 2014

I read Philip’s recent blog with great interest and one of the key things that come across to me is his recognition of how well rounded, personal skills translate into positive experiences. Whether that is saying a simple thank you or helping & inspiring a colleague in their career, he’s shown that these natural, positive behaviours can have far reaching and lasting effects.

I’m a firm believer that people, generally, want to do the right thing. We prefer to be friendly, prefer to listen and understand, prefer to build natural relationships and understand the circumstances others find themselves in. It’s certainly not in most people’s nature to threaten others, push their opinions, ignore circumstances or insist others accept their view of the world. I’m sure we all know people who may fit into this category but hopefully that’s not the norm!

So if people are naturally positive and engaging why do businesses still offer incentives for unnatural behaviours? How many employees are still incentivised purely to collect the most money, reduce the number of debtors, realise the assets or reduce the arrears?

Using these types of business outcomes to guide desired outcomes is, I would suggest, asking its employees to behave unnaturally. Putting it another way, it’s saying “we will reward you to ignore the customer” and when people receive specific recognition for behaving this way that becomes a self fulfilling prophesy, the tougher I am, the more I collect, the more money I make and the happier my employer is. In many cases that is further recognised by being “top of the league table”.

Here at PRA Group, we took the decision some time ago to change this model and demand that all colleagues act as they would anywhere else. Be polite, listen, understand and engage with our customers on a personal level. Create an environment and solutions that help our customers in whatever situation they find themselves in. We have demonstrated that if we do that first then everything else will naturally follow.

We are a revenue driven business, like most of you, and the bottom line is critical. But we can choose how we get to that bottom line and creating an environment where engaging employees who deliver fair outcomes are rewarded and recognised, over and above a simple numbers target, reaps huge rewards.

Of course we still have to deliver the bottom line and asking our employees to put the customer first and revenue later isn’t revolutionary. But it has changed our business and our star performers are the ones who consistently show the traits Philip recognised. They are the concerned, professional, engaging employees who show empathy and rapport and all usually with a smile. They genuinely want to help customers, and in doing the help, the business succeeds.

Being rewarded for being a great employee is something we all appreciate. It’s a ‘thank you’ from our business but importantly it’s a thank you from our customers. Without our customers choosing to work with our people, creating solutions in partnership and resolving difficult situations there would be no bonuses.

Being ‘normal’ is what we all hopefully do, being recognised for that in a working environment is special.

David Sheridan MICM

UK Servicing Director

PRA Group

  


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