The Psychology of Records Management – Executive Leadership in Action

Craig Grimestad

What? You’re saying executive leadership needs to use psychology to implement a successful RIM program? That doesn’t sound right – they just need to say to do it – and it will be done! Well, certainly there is some truth in that, but for executive leadership the psychological aspect is about how to send the message that we are doing this, and you are participating. The communications – (words and actions) need to be crystal clear and unmistakable – like a bugle’s call to action, not a time for a symphony or a jazz band. Words and actions need to consistently convey the same message. What’s the cliché? It’s not what you say…it’s what you do. So how does an executive who gets it (that Records are a Corporate Asset – see The Psychology of Records Management – The Foundation) clearly communicate that Corporate Records Management is now a corporate priority that is to be accomplished by full cooperation and participation by the entire workforce – understanding that anything less than full compliance causes unknown and unacceptable risk to the company.

There are numerous ways to provide a clear message of support and encouragement. If your company is transitioning its RIM program from a focus on storage facilitation to a Records governance focus – this is a big change. For the executive who wants to provide leadership, individual situations and circumstances will determine the specific communications and actions, but here are some options:

Finance the RIM Full Compliance Project – Funding a corporate mandate is one of the strongest signals that can be sent. Providing resources to accomplish an objective garners support and leaves little room for lack of accomplishment.

Be a spokesperson – Provide introductory and regular communications supporting the program, explaining its program, reporting progress, and activities remaining.

Be an advocate – Explain why it makes sense and is of value to the company.

Be a cheerleader – Acknowledge and recognize those individuals and areas that have been successful in embracing and complying with the RIM requirements.

Lead by example – Visibly embrace and comply with the RIM requirements in your area of direct control.

Assign respected individuals – Filling positions of responsibility (from “responsible executive” and Records Manager to Department Coordinators) with individuals who are known and respected for their capabilities and accomplishments. Include “up and comers” (excellent opportunity to learn operations and develop leadership skills with minimal risk).

Participate in the RIM program – Learn the details of the RIM program (not difficult) and consider becoming an instructor – perhaps for your direct reports?

With too much to do, and not enough time or budget to accomplish it all, employees try to determine what is really important to their leadership and then align their time and budgets with those priorities.

I digress, but I recall a time some years ago when our Division got a new Executive Vice-President as the CEO. This vice-president was a little different than his predecessors as he favored cardigan sweaters rather than suits or sport jackets. It was interesting (and a bit amusing) to observe how members of his staff (and then their staffs) over time (never been seen in sweaters) also started sporting cardigan sweaters!

An executive who embraces, advocates, and “wears” the new RIM fabric is a tremendous advantage for the RIM project and the subsequent ongoing compliance. For that company, it is a Key Success factor.

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