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    « Total Football and why it is so hard to play | Main | Wrap-Up - June 7 - 13, 2010 »
    Monday
    Jun142010

    More than a picture

    While the number of technologies designed for connecting an organization's people to each other, to better facilitate the sharing of knowledge, and to foster an environment of creativity and collaboration seems to increase every week - many organizations and certainly many if not most Human Resources professionals are still struggling to navigate this new, and often unfamiliar territory.

    With larger technology players like IBM and Cisco joining the literally hundreds of simiar sounding solutions on the market for microblogging, blogging, wikis, activity streaming, idea generation, and on and on, I can see an HR professional getting at best frustrated and confused, and at worst completely overwhelmed and defeated.

    You know as an HR pro and a leader that there is inherent value and benefit in the increased connectedness of the workpforce and of the augmented ability to share and create information. But you are at a loss at how to deploy technology to better enable those outcomes.

    Perhaps instead of just trying one new technology after another and running the risk of succumbing to 'shiny object syndrome' or subjecting your team to a lengthy series of too similar exercises, or remaining frozen in place, effectively stuck by the presence of simply too many choices, there are strategies that can be leveraged to try to drive the kinds of behaviors that you know have benefits, while using tools already at your disposal.

    How about the doing something with the ubiquitous and almost certainly boring company profile/corporate identification card picture?  You know the one that you make sure is as close to DMV or Passport Office level uninspiring and instantly forgettable.

    Quick - take a look at the badge of our friend 'Simon' there on the right - I bet that the badge layout, design, and generally 'I have just been booked for wire fraud' look on his face resembles the corporate IDs that many of you are wearing on a chain around your necks right now (or more jauntily on your hip strapped over your belts).

    But what if instead of insisting on the mug shot style photo that has always served the organization so well, you mixed it up a bit. perhaps by letting, or rather encouraging everyone to get a bit more creative in the 'official' portraits for the company directory and ID badges. 

    I recently came across a piece on the Junkculture blog that highlighted photographer Jason Travis' ongoing Persona series or photographs that 'documents hipster Atlantans along with the contents of their Flickr- J.Travismessenger bags, backpacks and clutches to determine "what they deem important in their lives."

    When you take a look at the images, you get some insight into the person beyond just their physical appearance. The inclusion of the ordinary yet important objects they are carrying offers a bit of a glimpse into their interests, hobbies, even their skills and capabilities. The things that people carry with them can shed lght on not only where they are going (or want to go), but also where they have been.  In an organizational context this certainly could translate to projects they worked on in the past, as well as future career goals and aspirations.

    It seems to me this is exactly the kind of information that the modern collaboration technologies or 'internal social networking' platforms are also trying to collect and capture.  Employee interests, skills, past history, friends, and goals and desires for future assignments and learning opportunities. But you as an HR leader have to spend the time, effort, and resources to sort though these many hundred of technologies. 

    In the meantime, perhaps getting more creative with the company directory photo and the official ID badge might just be a good place to start. Instead of the mugshot - think different, whether it lets employees share their favorite sports teams, hobbies, pets, whatever.  Any thing would be an improvement from old Simon, and maybe more employees would actually wear the badges more proudly and not 'forget' them at home so often.

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    Reader Comments (8)

    This hits so close to home for me it's not funny. A company I worked for in the past (not too big -250 employees) was putting up an INTERNAL site for listing all employees with their picture. I thought it would be cool to have some fun so I wore sunglasses and a hat to my "shoot." You would of thought I robbed Fort Knox. The HR director went nuts - sent a note to everyone about professionalism and how important it was that we took the pictures seriously.

    So much for a fun place to work. I mean - it was an internal site - not only that - i would have let any client see the picture I was thinking of doing. Lighten up folks - people work at companies, people have personalities, people buy from people. Jeez.

    Good post Steve.

    June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Hebert

    LOVE IT!

    June 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie brown

    Selling an intelligent organisational charting solution in Australia - it's clearly a different thing. Few companies have any kind of corporate portraiture (stylish or otherwise) - and it's a real shame. For those who do, the simple act of throwing photos around on corporate directories / organisational charts really helps other employees feel connected to the person behind the voicemail / email address. The companies who can leverage this love it - but I think all too often the companies who don't simply have no idea what they're missing out on.

    June 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterorgchart

    @Paul - I don't know,you have that shady look about you....

    @Debbie - Thanks!

    @orgchart - Thanks very much, I agree the images really do help making the personal connection.

    June 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterSteve

    We do allow EE's to post their own picture online. As the HRIS manager, I've had many conversations around how to police the images. I don't have any problem with funny hats and sun glasses, but if you are the person that posted a photo of you on the beach wearing little else there is a problem. While this is the rare concern, the larger is making sure that the photo is still appropriate. Some organizations are very sensitive about different things. For example, if I were to post a photo of me standing in front of something of a religious nature, my company finds that inappropriate for fear that it may offend someone of a different faith. Needless to say, there is a lot of back and forth here and other places I've consulted with have had similar concerns. It's interesting to me how touchy of a subject this can become.

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