Stakeholder management is an important process through which archive and records professionals can build influence. It is a key competency to develop, which is why influencing and managing of stakeholders is recognised through the ARA competency framework (competencies C1, C2 and C3).
Vicky Stretch looks after a modern business archive at Network Rail, as well as a large collection of historical engineering drawings from the earliest days of the railway. The archive is part of Network Rail’s National Records Group, which provides records management and content management support to the business.
We asked Vicky for her advice on how best to promote the value of archive and records management work through stakeholder management. Here are Vicky’s top tips:
Identify key individuals: identify all the individuals or groups of individuals who have an influence on what you do, as well as those who you can influence to help achieve your goals.
Get to know their interests: find out what your stakeholders are interested in and what is current in their world. I keep up to date with what is happening through the intranet and our external website, as well as our organisation’s magazine and newsletters. If you’re getting material out to show them, do a bit of research to see if they are particularly interested in a place or a topic. Other news and social media outlets for your industry or community are also useful as points of reference. The more you build up contacts and engage with your stakeholders, the more you get to know what is happening.
Network, network, network: don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and get involved with initiatives introduced by managers. Give a true picture of challenges and successes within your service but highlight the positives as well as things that might not be going quite so well. Once you’ve made contact, keep the communications going. Nothing too much, perhaps an occasional email telling them how you’re getting on with a project or something you have found in the archive they might be interested in.
Dealing with negativity: there will inevitably be occasions when some stakeholders are unreceptive to any engagement you might try. The key here is to not force it – keep it light. Keep them satisfied with the information they want about your service in a timely manner and focus your efforts on engaging with the people who are interested and who have the ability to help you achieve your goals.
Article first published in ARC magazine December 2018