Gaining Support for Records Management Programs

I am often asked how an organization can best get management support to implement records management programs. The answer to this question is simple in principle, yet sometimes quite difficult to action. When trying to get management support for any program, the goal is on participation – that is, getting management to participate in your idea and when they do, they will support your idea. So, what to do? You need to demonstrate the benefits of the program. Let me give you a few examples. 

Example 1 – think about beer commercials. Do the commercials promote the benefits of quenching thirst? No. They promote having fun, relaxing with friends, being playful, youthful, and so on. They don’t mention quenching thirst; although that is the purpose of drinking beer. 

Example 2 – car commercials. Are cars marketed as getting you from point A to point B? No. They’re marketed as a status symbol, powerful, youthful, high performance – they make you “need” that BMW or Mercedes or Porsche, etc. 

Example 3 – perfume. Is it marketed as something that will make you smell good? No, it’s about unleashing your inner radiance, your inner goddess about being sexy, playful … I think you get the picture. 

So when you talk about records management to non-records management professionals, think about what picture you portray. Do you talk about boxes and boxes of grungy records? Elbow deep in mountains of paper? Never ending paper piles? Unwieldy electronic files? Seriously, if that’s what you’re talking about, why would anyone want to take part in something like that? 

Records management programs need to be marketed as “sexy.” This means that the program has to be appealing, it has to be exciting, and it makes people want to get involved. You need to appeal to emotions. And once you’ve got emotional involvement, you’ll get support. Just think about commercials. Do you want to get from point A to point B or do you want to have fun getting from point A or point B? Build your plan so that it demonstrates the benefits of records management programs and shows that it can be fun to get from A to B. 

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to have ready one or two 30-second sound bites for a quick response to questions. So when you’re riding up in the elevator with a senior manager and you’re asked “What are you and the records team up to these days?” Don’t say: “we’re digging through boxes of files.” Say: “We’re implementing a solution that will give you 25% more space in your office and save the company $500,000 in the next year. If you like, I can show you how we’re going to do that.” 

In short, always be ready with a tantalizing response. You won’t go wrong by having senior management want to help you with your program. It’ll be a win-win situation all around.