Building Alliances – Coffee Chat Teaser

Building Alliances – Part 1, Where to Start? Join us January 8, 2021, time 1:00pm Central Time Register for the event here:

Ryan Leimkuehler, University Records Manager at Kansas State University and David Brown, Archivist and Head of Records Management Services as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will hold a series of discussions on how to establish Archives and Records Management Programs through the formation of strategic cross organizational alliances. The goal of these discussions is to be interactive with our colleagues and the format is an initial discussion by Ryan and Dave that over the course of an hour expands to include those who have joined the event.

A typical discussion would go like this:

Dave: I think that one’s ability to forge cross organizational alliances is just as essential to successfully building and maintaining an archives and records management program as your professional knowledge and expertise. What do you think of that statement?

Ryan: I think it is critical that we form alliances and build bridges wherever possible. Just anecdotally, I have heard stories of records managers who can do very little outside of their core area because they are either not trusted or not understood across the organization. In my case with Kansas State University, a lot of this groundwork was already established, but I knew I needed to strengthen the ties and relevance to other areas outside of the University Libraries. To meet these ends we formed the Records and Information Management Committee (RIMC) and identified key offices across campus who should be represented such as: the office of the registrar, general counsel, faculty representation, office of research, human capital services, open records officer, and IT. Through this group, we established a foothold in critical offices and our work in developing retention schedules and improved efficiencies/training has justified our existence for other offices not represented on the records committee. I also developed a training program so we can meet offices ‘where they are’ and move them to ‘where we want them to be.’ So far it is Shared-Drive Clean-Up training and Records Management 101 with various on demand trainings upon request such as email management. Without this committee and our training activities, I do not believe we would be nearly as effective as we are right now and in full disclosure, we have a long way to reach every office on campus.

Dave: When starting a job in a new organization, for me, the two most important things to know about your records and information management program (RIM) are: 1) where you are; and 2) where you want to go. These two data points are your guideposts to how you are perceived and identifies the key organizational collaborators you need to engage to either enhance or change the perception of your program.

Ryan: I agree that those two data points are important in determining next steps in any RIM program. When I came onboard KSU I knew that I was the first records manager for the university. I also had some prior knowledge of the organization in my role as government records archivist for the Kansas Historical society. We collaborated on starting the process of updating their retention schedule that was passed in the 90’s and never updated since. So with that knowledge going into my position I knew I needed to leverage the Records and Information Management committee (RIMC) and develop a training program to justify our relevance and value we could offer to offices we worked with.  In the three years I have been at KSU we have updated most of the previous retention schedule and brought many unofficial retention schedules and policies up to date and made them official by working through the State Records Board.

An inventory of personal skills is also useful for a department of one, like myself, or of your team. In my case I know I am comfortable teaching/training and thus the training program made sense for me to pursue early on. I also know that I have various soft skills that are useful in repairing damage done or building new bridges.

From here, the discussion could go in many directions depending on the interactions of our colleagues. Some possible topics might be:

  • Who are the likely allies for you to target?
  • How do you repair any damage done to your program prior to your arrival?
  • Are there alliances you can build outside of your organization?
  • Have you had challenges dealing with some administration or departments who do not see our value? how can I change their minds?

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