China, according to a special issue this month of Time Magazine, is expected to do exceptionally well in women’s weight lifting in the upcoming Olympic Games. As an example, it appears that back in about 1996, Chinese officials heard women’s weight lifting might be added as a new event to the Sydney games. Scouts were dispatched to the countryside, where it was believed parents were more likely than urban counterparts to release their daughters into state care.

The athletic czars determined the ideal girl for the sport:

  • She would have the stoicism that comes from a rural background
  • Rapid reflexes
  • Big hands and fleet feet
  • Explosive jumping power since lifting is as much about quickness as strength
  • Matching height and wingspan for balance

Within four years, they had a world-beating squad. One of their coaches said, “We broke the sport down very scientifically into the smallest components. No country can compare with us.”

The Olympics take place every four years but our collection teams need to compete every day. They compete against the economy, other collectors, natural disasters and tough and demanding bosses like us.

How did most of them get ‘selected’ for the business of professional collections? I’ve been thru many a college and high school year book, haven’t seen “want to be a bill collector’ when I get out of school. Let’s face it; some of us didn’t fit too well in other jobs. “She’s too demanding and abrasive for customer service, but let’s try her in accounts receivable.”

Perhaps we will never scour the countryside for the most suitable candidates for collections, but the information is out there to allow us to make better decisions.  But what makes a great collector, one that can contend for the gold day in and day out? You can’t tell by looking at them.

Would it be of value to have an assessment that might tell us that individuals have or lack the following qualities?

  • Have the ability to be assertive – bordering on aggression – they don’t take ‘no’ for an answer (very often)
  • Thick skinned – able to deal with customers who are under pressure – not their most diplomatic
  • Driven to succeed – they do not like to lose
  • Not clock watchers, arrive a bit early and leave a bit later
  • Want and expect to be rewarded for high achievement
  • Can appreciate a ‘big picture’ and know when to back off or hand off

Those are my thoughts. I would like to hear yours.