How Information Specialists Can Increase Visibility with Executive Leadership
July 28, 2020 by Megan Burnside
In a recent, informal study conducted by Jinfo, information specialists were asked which of several goals they most hoped to achieve in 2020. The most popular answer, by far, was: “to increase our visibility and value with senior stakeholders” (56%). The second most popular answer was a related goal: “Increasing our involvement and influence in data-related projects” (19%). Clearly, many info specialists want their colleagues and executive leadership to better understand and appreciate what we do.
Achieving these goals lies largely with info specialists. If they don’t already have it, they must secure a place at the table whenever data- and information-related projects are being discussed. Of course, once at the table, they must add value and not be shy about touting our contributions.
Here are few ideas to help you accomplish this. We thank Robin Neidorf, the Director of Research for Jinfo, who conducted the research noted above and whose ideas helped us shape the content below.
Seize the COVID-19 Moment
The coronavirus pandemic has made company and organisation leaders hungrier than usual for information to help them manage this fluid situation and make the smartest decisions possible. These leaders are seeking the best answers to such questions as: When will business return to “normal” and what will that look like? How are our competitors responding? What changes could we consider making now in order to leapfrog the competition? The good news is that we info specialists can help leaders answer these and other pressing questions.
The key, of course, is to provide insightful, actionable information served up in a manner that our companies’ or organizations’ leadership can quickly interpret and potentially act on. This will gain info specialists more visibility, gratitude and, yes, respect. So will offering up information and analysis that your leaders haven’t asked for but that you believe they would find of value. If there’s ever a time to go the extra mile and over-deliver, during this tumultuous time is it.
Many people think that since information is apparently everywhere, it can’t be that hard to gather. They have a point. However, it is precisely because information is so available that what information professionals do is both challenging and more necessary by the day.
A terrific way of helping people appreciate the extra value you offer is by responding to every request for information with a simple question: Why? When you better understand exactly what someone is hoping to accomplish with the information you collect and analyze, the better you can deliver results that will help them achieve their ultimate objective. The probing “Why?” also launches a dialogue that can help your colleagues and executive leadership team better appreciate the nuances of your work.
Tout Your Successes
As a general rule, information specialists aren’t so great at self-promotion. We all need to get better at this. So often, your expertise plays a major role in shaping important initiatives, programs and campaigns—but your contributions are too often hidden.
Consider distributing a regular email that touts the role information specialists played in a recent successful program or campaign that your company or organization is proud of. Keep it short and to the point to increase readership. Such an email can demonstrate your capabilities and contributions.
Prepare for the Next Disruption. It’s Coming.
Information specialists can gain additional respect if you apply the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to create plans and contingencies for the next major disruption… whatever that may be turn out to be. This preparedness will impress leadership. In addition, when the next disruption throws your organisation into turmoil, you’ll be ready to deliver to your leadership what they’ll need most: smart, accurate information and analysis. And, as always, Nexis will be there to help you rise to the occasion.