Creating a Culture of good Records Management Practice
Consistent implementation is the key to an effective Records Management Programme.
So, you have finally decided to overhaul your existing Records Management Programme, or what is left of it, and this time you are going to make sure it works.
The question is why did it fail to work as expected? Managing the records and data within an organisation is no easy task, especially as the number of people needing access increases. One of the most common failings of RM Programmes is through non-compliance or adherence to the processes and procedures that were put in place. Often time your employees simply do not understand the process or feel that they are hindered by them and thus cannot carry out their work properly.
While failure to comply should not be condoned, there may be times when an objection to compliance can be understood. Take the case of an employee who tends to perform better than the average. You will likely find that this person takes on significantly more responsibility than other employees’ do, which also means they tend to evaluate compliance requests more.
It is not that they are trying to buck the system or that they are not a team player. In fact, they are probably quite the opposite. Take for instance a top employee who receives a notice stating that a number of key records and data are to be moved offsite for storage. Now this person may in fact refer to these documents and data from time to time and so feels that their removal is going to disrupt their ability to do their jobs. Thus, they become inventive at creating their own backups of this information, which effectively creates a hole in your programme.
Now imagine you have more than one employee who feels this way.
Creating the right Culture
The above scenario is one of many that play out daily in organisations. Considering all employees, when it comes to your RM Programme is necessary to prevent compliance issues. One must remember that an organisation consists of people as a body consists of cells. Just as a body’s cells affect the overall health of the body so too do the people in your organisation. People who are ignored, treated badly, or not provided the wherewithal to operate are going to affect the organisation negatively.
By taking the time to carry out a few important steps you can reduce compliance issues while fostering a culture of good records management practice. These steps include:
- Survey your employees. Do not assume all your employees use information in the same way or place the same importance on certain records. Take the time to find out what is important to your people, how they use information, and what they feel could be improved. Doing this once is not enough. Things change all the time, maybe new technology is introduced or there is some restructuring, these things will affect how people handle information, so keep on top of it.
- Educate your employees. People seldom comply properly when they do not understand the need for something or how it is to be implemented. Take the time to educate your employees about why records management is important. Also, make sure they are well informed and trained in how to follow the processes and procedures of your RM Programme. Do not make the mistake of thinking that placing a notice with the ‘how-to’ steps is sufficient to gain compliance, take the time to go over the steps and clarify misunderstandings, and do it regularly, not just once.
- Reward compliance. Compliance with your Records Management Programme is not optional. However, you are likely to get better results when you reward your employees from time to time.
So, as you create your new RM Programme take the time to look at how it is implemented and stays implemented. Encourage the right culture that values and understands the importance of managing your organisation’s records.
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