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Developing the skills necessary to engage in a strategic dialogue with C-Level executives is not easy, especially as it relates to information governance (IG). These individuals have too much on their mind, but there are some things that you can do to make it a lot easier – and have much greater success when you do.
Show the Value of Information Governance
Everyone has the same amount of time in his or her day, 24 hours. However, C-Level executives seem to have less time, especially for administrative tasks that don’t drive profit into the organization. Therefore, when speaking with these individuals, it’s important to get to the point very quickly. If they don’t see the value what you’re selling (i.e. information governance) within the first 30 seconds, C-Level executives will most likely tune out.
Preparation is key. If you don’t prepare what you’re going to say, you’re likely to stumble upon your words. Think about how information governance can create value for the organization and be able to explain in a few words how this value impacts them directly. You need to know how you can make a difference. In particular, how can you increase revenue and profitability and reduce costs by launching an information governance initiative.
Then, stand in front of a mirror and practice your sales pitch. Practice. Practice. Practice.
It’s not all about you! It’s about what’s in it for the C-Level executive. In order to understand what’s in it for the C-Level, you need to have a basic understanding of how you can impact the business. It’s not necessary for you to be a subject matter expert on business management, but you had better be able explain how you can impact the business.
For example, what drives profit to your business? What keeps these C-Level executives awake at night? These are topics you as an information governance professional must understand and be able to articulate. Clearly explain how information governance can put more money into their pockets by impacting the business.
Once you have been able to successfully show the value and impact of information governance to the C-Level, you must own the outcome of this initiative. If you have been given the “green light”, then don’t hesitate to move forward. The last thing these executives need is another dependent. Remember, as an IG professional, you were hired by the organization to do a job.
Yes, you may need to put your sales cap on and sell your IG initiative, but after you have done so, it’s time to be an in-house leader and prove that you will own the outcome. It’s not practical to engage with executives every step of the way to get their blessing. If you do, your initiative has a high likelihood of failure. Be proactive and as Nike says “Just Do It.”
Unfortunately there is no Rosetta Stone or Google translation option for learning the language of the C-Suite. You will have to roll up your sleeves, put your sales cap on and drive this one home.