Marketing and change management: the hidden skills of an info pro

Shaida Dorabjee and Elisabeth Goodman on why so called 'soft skills' are vital for information professionals.

The breadth and diversity of information work

The varied skills required by an information professional demonstrate the breadth and diversity of our work: be it providing a traditional library and information service, implementing knowledge management activities, training in information literacy or providing specialist academic or technical support.

However, the softer skills which involve managing, persuading and influencing people as well as understanding their concerns and needs are not often addressed with the same attention and vigour as the 'harder' job-related skills which can be more easily taught or learned through experience.

There are two related aspects of today’s working lives, which are encountered with increasing frequency and with consistently high levels of challenge.

Internal marketing and change

The first aspect is internal change. This may be caused by a wider change within an organisation. For example a drastic reduction in resources available and thus services provided, or the introduction of a new 'system': an IT system or a new management style. All of these require a change in the way we work. Secondly, any type of information service has to be effectively marketed and promoted to users, potential users and stakeholders. This is equally important in areas where 'we have enough work as it is, without having to look for more'.

So are information professionals ready to incorporate these soft skills of change management and marketing into their work-based portfolio of competences? 

Both aspects have common themes that have to be worked through in order to effectively market a service or implement change management. These include:

  • Identifying strategic drivers which provide a foundation from which to build improvement
  • Analysing stakeholders to get an understanding of their working practices and needs
  • A planned implementation and communication process which is specific and relevant to the objectives.

We think these skills are so important to the development of information professionals – and their services - that we developed a  training course to to address these issues.   

Through a series of case studies, including those provided by delegates in advance, the course uses the key components of marketing and change management to work through these specific scenarios in a participative and practical day.

More information about our course can be found here.

Shaida and Elisabeth will be running their UKeiG training course (Marketing and Internal Change: a case study based appraoch to the strategic and operational development of your information service in London in September).

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee via Flickr.