The one critical skill that will make or break your Records Program.

The critical skill that makes or breaks every records program is the ability to get managers to manage the records performance of their direct reports.

When frontline managers include records in their management practice, frontline workers keep records.

When middle managers manage frontline managers on the records performance of their team, frontline managers teams keep records.

When senior executives manage middle managers on the records performance of their frontline teams, the whole organisation underneath them keep records.

This makes the ability to persuade senior executives to take records seriously a critical skill.

In Government in particular, single managers can derail whole records programs – and the same goes for digital initiatives. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve seen this in action.

I’ve seen one side of an organisation move to electronic records and another side stay on paper – because one senior executive liked their EA to print documents for them, and liked signing ceremonies on Friday mornings.

I’ve also seen the records performance of a team completely change (in both directions), because of a change of manager.

While the ability to persuade on a 1:1 basis at low levels of an organisation can have an impact, it’s only a matter of time before that 1 runs into a deadline set by their manager and doesn’t keep a record because the manager doesn’t care about the record.

There are many approaches to this problem – but the most important thing is that we see it as a critical problem for records to solve.

The other option is to say “it’s not my job to persuade” – which is partly true, and partly why records is a mess in many organisations. Most people I’ve found with this attitude didn’t get there because they don’t care, they got there because they care deeply and tried and failed many, many times. 

All of this leaves me with two questions:

  1. What’s your general approach to persuading management?
  2. How have you found inspiration when you’ve become that person who failed to persuade?

1 thought on “The one critical skill that will make or break your Records Program.”

  1. I agree that exec buy-in is critical. Where I would slightly disagree is that I don’t think you persuade senior execs that records mgt is important – rather you link records management to something that they already think is important. This means that you have to understand what is important to them and to clearly articulate how what you care about can help what they care about. This also means that there can never be a one size fits all about message – because typically people care about different things.

    I think you also need to know what other initiatives are going on that you can align yourself with. e.g. distributed working pushed you away from paper towards electronic documents. Improving document findability is good for many purposes other than records management.


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