28 Jul 2023
by Karen Tuffs FCICM (Grad)

How to develop a high performing team

What are the ingredients to making a high performing team? Let’s break down some of the qualities needed to become a best practice icon for your organisation, in Credit Management.

How do you define a high-performing team, and what are some characteristics of such a team?

A high performing team is one that pulls together in the same direction, shares the same focus, purpose, and understanding the role they play in delivering their organisations objectives. So, how do you develop a team that performs effectively in Credit Management and Debt Collections?

Meet the CICMQ Head of Accreditation

Meet Karen Tuffs FCICM (Grad), Head of Accreditation at the Chartered Institute of Credit Management, as she speaks about the attributes of a high-performing team and how CICMQ develops teams into one that works with Best Practice methods.


How to develop a successful team

  • Trust and respect for each other.
  • Communicating in a clear and respectful manner.
  • Encouraging diversity of thought and possess a wide range of skill sets.
  • Having clear goals, roles, and responsibilities, following a clear vision and mission.
  • Managing work and deadlines based on priorities, aligned to personal and organisation objectives.
  • Practicing continuous improvement and ongoing personal and professional development.
  • Empowering team members to make decisions.
  • Streamlined processes, automating repetitive work to maximise time to concentrate of value-added activities, increasing job satisfaction.
  • Finally, the team is led by a high-performing leader and role model.

The CICMQ programme supports the investigation and development of these characteristics across the 8 key areas of: Credit policy, Customer Service, Personal and Professional Development, Performance Monitoring and KPIs, Compliance, Stakeholder Management, Credit Roadmap, Innovation and change.



How does team development help a company or team?

In my previous role working for a European shared service centre, recruitment focussed on language skills, and required credit and collection skills to be developed in the job. By completing a skills audit of the team, it helped to define the development areas and a plan was created to upskill and fill the gaps.  This not only included in-house material such as collections software and Excel training but also partnering with CICM as a Development Partner. This resulted in a bespoke training plan tailored to individual needs and the launch of a highly successful and ongoing CICM qualification study programme.


Common challenges seen in teams that have not undergone proper development.

Not ensuring teams have the right tools and skills for the job can have far reaching consequences.  This covers soft skills as well.

  • Direct impact on customer service if responses are not correct and on time.
  • Putting the organisation at risk, including financial if poor decisions are made, compliance breaches, reputation.
  • Effect on team and individual morale if results are below expectation and the knock-on effect for wellbeing if this increases stress levels, ultimately leading to a potential increase in attrition.
  • Also, the effect on the team if leadership is not strong, poor or limited delegation leading to the team feeling micromanaged and without any form of autonomy, empowerment to make decisions



The importance of diversity in creating a high performing team

It is a huge benefit to have a diverse range of team members and skills.  This enriches the group, and everyone has something important to offer and share.

Completing and regularly updating a skills matrix for the team is the best way to approach this.  I would recommend breaking it down to both job level and individual level.  Looking at individuals’ strengths and areas of development help define a training plan and assist with succession planning.  Identifying skills at a job level assist with recruitment, key competencies, and succession planning.

This is something we look at closely as part of the CICMQ accreditation and link it to the Professional Skills Standards. Every member can take their own skills audit to establish where they are now and the skills they need to develop to take to where they want to be. As part of the accreditation programme, we can also supply material to help with the skills audit.



The power of leadership in team development and the qualities of a strong leader

A strong leader is vital for a successful team. I think a leader needs to have the respect of the team, leading by example and being a great role model.  The leader should motivate, encourage, and inspire the team to be the best they can. The leader needs to understand the team individuals so they can be brought together, working towards a common goal, to achieve the same aims, even with different opinions and personalities.

The strong leader is able to cascade the organisational strategic objectives into the team and convert them to tangible actions plans, with everyone understanding the role they play in the organisation’s success.

Following on from the last point about diversity and skills audit, the leader can ensure opportunities for development made available, tailored to the individual and team need.  The leader will ensure the development action plans are seen through, providing feedback, analysing effectiveness and results to shape the future.



How CICMQ helps to develop a high performing team

CICMQ is the Credit and Collections Industry Accreditation for best practice in all aspects of B2B and B2C credit and collections.

Sorry for the cliché, but this is a case of there being no “I” in team. Even the smallest credit and collections team need to work together to achieve results.  The scope of the CICMQ accreditation covers all areas of credit and involves the entire team. The journey to accreditation brings the team together to review processes, procedures, and personal and professional development.  If the team decide to take advantage of the additional Discovery or Chase the Cash workshops this provides an even greater opportunity for teamwork, bringing everyone together to focus on a shared goal, belonging to the exclusive CICMQ best practice network.