Change Management: The Hidden Information Governance Skill

Robin Woolen, The Records Guru®

One of the most important skills of an information governance professional is the ability to effect change within an established business process. Developing a communication plan and crafting a training plan are critical components of any successful change management process.

Begin forming a communication plan as soon as possible, as you need to let employees know that a change is coming to their daily business lives. The earlier individuals are notified of the change, the easier it is for people to accept it.

Every organization has a standard method it uses to communicate with its staff. Some of the more common approaches include posters, flyers, newsletters (print or electronic), audio announcements, intranet banner ads, social network posts and direct presentations as part of a departmental meeting.

Repetition is key to getting the message across, so don’t be afraid to use all of the popular methods (with the exception of email, because it may easily be ignored or lost in the shuffle of a crowded inbox). The more often employees hear a consistent message, the easier it is for them to accept the change when it finally takes place. With a communication plan firmly in place, the next step is to create a training plan so that the affected staff members understand what you want them to do.

Your organization’s HR department likely manages training, so it can be a valuable resource. Use your HR professionals because they understand the four “VARK” learning styles. Visual learners prefer to see the information and the relationships between ideas (charts, graphs, diagrams, etc.). Auditory learners prefer to hear the information rather than read it (lectures, group discussions, etc.). Read-write learners prefer to interact with the information in written form (manuals, reports, etc.). Kinesthetic learners prefer to interact with the information directly, in a more tactile or reality-based form (demonstrations, videos, etc.).

While it’s impossible to create a course that will appeal to all of these styles, try to relate to multiple styles whenever possible in order to engage more people. Understand that there is no substitute for the experience of working through a new routine during the daily business process. Repetition allows a user to become comfortable with new tasks.

Regardless of the system or process being trained upon, it is best to create a customized user guide — that illustrates each step a user takes — to promote a clear understanding of expectations. It is also important to establish a go-to person in each department that the staff can call upon for questions as needed. This creates tiered levels of support that can relieve the stress of change. Like communication, repetition in training is also key. It is important to bring everyone together regularly to review training procedures and ensure the process is being clearly communicated and understood.

Change management is an important skill for any information governance professional. Communicating and training are both major elements of leading change by reducing anxiety and fear of the unknown, as well as garnering greater acceptance and adoption of a process change.

Change is inevitable. Learning how to manage it is necessary.

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