Three Ways for any Records Manager to Get Coworker Buy-In

After speaking with records managers from all across our clientele, about triumphs and tribulations, one thing is clear: a records manager often doesn’t get the support they need.

Records managers perform a critical function for the company and it takes brilliant coordination and active cooperation from all employees to do it well. The challenge is that it’s often poorly understood outside of records management, shunted to the side, and ignored. And in fact, that is exactly what our recent survey of records managers revealed as their number one challenge.

Over and over, our question of what the hardest part of a records manager’s job has resulted in answers like, “Try to get people to understand it,” or, “Getting instructions distributed and used.” Regular employees just don’t seem to understand the importance of adopting the policies and procedures around good records management

A records management system is only as good as the buy-in and routine practice from everyone at the company. Your instinct may be to get people in the habit by emphasizing the serious consequences, like HIPAA breaches that can result in a $50,000 fine per violation.

But this approach will likely only get you buy-in at the executive level, not with the regular employees who are having to follow these policies and procedures day-to-day.

So, how do you get that buy-in from your coworkers? Show them the effects of good and bad RM in their everyday life.

Here’s how to do that.

1. Make it Easy to Understand How It Will Make Them More Efficient

Records management can get a little confusing: regulations vary by company type, by record type, and jurisdiction. People don’t react well to confusing information, so keep it simple, as Rich Lauwers, Director of Information Governance at Merrill Corporation put it to Laserfiche.

“Records management is knowing what you have, where you have it, and how long you have to keep it.”

Even without the threat of a data breach, a good RM system can save everyone hours of work. According to one study, 21% of daily productivity loss can be attributed to document issues—with workers spending 18 minutes searching for a document. That’s a lot of time and aggravation that can be saved by something as simple as clear file labeling or box inventory.

Another really easy advantage to understand is that if you are destroying documents according to the retention schedule, you’ll no longer be on the hook for producing that record when requested, whether that’s due to an audit, at the request of an employee or customer, or otherwise.

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2. Show That You Are All Part of the Same Team

Perhaps one of your coworkers’ duties is to provide a certain type of record on-demand. Without proper RM, that means both your time and your coworkers’ time is at risk of being wasted, if they have to search through either boxes upon boxes of physical files or hundreds of electronic files. And if they can’t find the files because they’ve been improperly labeled or stored, that has a cost as well.

This operational drag results in 2.5 million lost each year. That affects everyone, regardless of whether they work in RM.

For a business to run smoothly, records management needs to be part of the infrastructure of your business, like IT or the admins. It’s integral, not an add-on. Several responses to our survey indicated that making buy-in mandatory can work. One records manager said they “will not accept a box of files unless it’s been inventoried”, and has seen a big improvement in compliance.

3. Get Influencers to Spread the Message and Lead by Example

RM is often intertwined with IT, accounting, facilities, and admin, we learned from our survey: Many records managers often perform IT or admin duties, themselves. Identify the people who are seen as leaders in those departments, regardless of title, and spread the word about good RM to them. They’re likely to be the ones most receptive to this message.

In order to get buy-in for your records management system, though, you first need a system. Including these influencers in the design of the system will make them believers who are more likely to hold other employees to the requirements of this system.

Finally, real organizational buy-in needs to be modeled: first by the records managers themselves, and then by those at the top of the organizational food chain.

Listen to part 1 of the full exclusive interview with Helen Streck

In episode 1 of the File Tips by Corodata podcast, Helen goes deep into explaining how a retention schedule can protect your company if legal action is taken; more details on managing files during legal action, and the difference between a back-up and a record.