The Psychology of Records Management – The Foundation

Craig Grimestad

Records and Information Management (RIM) is a fascinating occupation, the only one that I can think of that is essential to a company’s well being – yet has no priority. Except for a small program team that has the word “Records” in their job description, Records and Information Management has no priority for any other individual. Can anyone say “I didn’t meet the deadline because I was working on RIM [maybe you can if they don’t know what RIM stands for – but then that’s not good either]?” Or, “I missed the meeting because I was too busy organizing my Records.” How about “We’re too busy deleting our courtesy copies to answer our customer’s question?” When put side by side with any other business activity for resource priority, Records and Information Management always loses. Yet, at the end of the day, it must be done.   It must be done to assure the business has, and can find, the information it needs to operate in the present as well as the future. It must be done – even without any priority.

I digress, but can you imagine a work environment without any Records and Information Management? Imagine papers lying on the floor, in hallways, in bathrooms, and literally flying in the breeze. Records may be in folders, but the folders have no identification and the contents have no known association. Everyone is free to pick up any paper they find, to read, to relocate, to keep, or to destroy – anytime they choose. Take some home and let your children use the back sides for their homework assignments. Grab a bunch and see if they will sell on eBay. If papers are in boxes, with the disarray of the papers in the box, it is hard to tell if they are garbage or storage. The thought is ludicrous. So it turns out we all have some inborn desire and instinctive nature to manage records. It’s natural to manage records!

So with an innate desire to manage Records, but no priority to do so, how does a company establish and manage an effective Records and Information Management program? The answer quite simply is psychology. Psychology? Are you nuts? Well maybe a little bit, but it is still the right answer. The Corporate Records Manger, the Departmental Records Coordinators, and the rest of us in the industry know the rightful place of Records and Information Management. How do we change the thinking of the rest of the company to see it?

There are many components of RIM psychology from the boardroom to the workstation – too many to cover in one writing. But let’s start at the top. RECORDS ARE A CORPORATE ASSET.

When the leadership team gets it, I mean really gets it – it is a Game Changer. You see they understand that assets represent value, and that assets require protection and maintenance. Buildings are insured, secured, and maintained. Companies cut the grass, wash the windows, paint the walls, change light bulbs, maintain, repair, and replace heating, cooling, lighting, electrical and plumbing systems. It’s just a building! But they value the asset. Records are also corporate assets.

So that is the foundation – RECORDS ARE A CORPORATE ASSET! In this series I’ll provide guidance for leadership and for those in the trenches – even if your leadership team doesn’t really believe or act like Records are an asset.   You are not helpless – there are tools at your disposal to make the program work even if you aren’t well supported. But since the best approach is with the leadership team’s support, I will focus on psychology for the leadership team next time.

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