This is a guest blog post from a true intranet champion, Peter Barron. Peter is the Internet Services Manager at Rio Rancho Public Schools and two things stand out when you talk to Peter: he has an infectious passion for intranets and he is one smart guy. Peter has 10+ years under his belt with Intranet Connections. We recently had a conversation about his challenge to get buy-in for staff photos on their intranet, RioNet, and he graciously agreed to share his insights.
School districts are populated with staff that are not happy to be “out there” on the web, even if it is a secured intranet. This is for a variety of reasons, but foremost there is an instinct to shield identities, perhaps because as a school district our job is to protect children day in and day out. There is a concern that someone could take advantage of another staff member by having access to their photo through the intranet.
6 Reasons for Having Staff Photos on the Intranet
- It encourages familiarity and discourages cold responses: you are less likely to be cross with someone who has a face. When you just get an email or a mandate from someone that you don’t know, you deal with it in a more sterile fashion. Putting a face to a name adds the human touch
- It encourages community. So many of our schools and departments suffer from the silo effect. Becoming familiar with someone’s face breeds instant recognition at meetings, casual encounters (in and out of the workplace) and especially if you are swapping comments and conversations via the employee walls
- It provides a sense of identity to a department, group or school. If you see a group of faces when visiting the Facilities department, you see them as real people versus a list of names or positions. Knowing their faces takes you immediately to the level of “I know you” and changes the nature of your interactions. The department then has a visual identity through the intranet that is not easy to forget. This is true for staff-to-staff, but also staff-to-administration and administration-to-staff
- New or transferred staff can be highlighted on the intranet home page as a “Look Who Joined Us” widget. This builds community, a sense of belonging and enables the new person to more quickly become a part of the group
- For each person, their face on the intranet allows them to say to the organization “I am not just a name or a position, I have an identity and I am happy to share it with everyone”. That may sound pretty 60’s but that sort of effect raises staff value in a way that really can’t be measured, especially in a school district where it is easy to feel cut off by the very nature of being alone in a room with 30 kids every day
- When staff update their photos, they inform their colleagues about changes and the currency of their presence in the district
3 Options for How to Make it Happen
I have discussed a variety of options with our leadership team (in IT) providing we can get clean JPG data for all our staff imported into our Active Directory. We could then use the Intranet Connection AD sync feature for all 2,500+ staff. There are a few deployment options that we are discussing.
- Add staff badge photos via Active Directory sync as a one-time import, and then enable staff to change their profile photo through the social directory (a lot of staff don’t like their badge photos – including me – so we need to give them the option of changing the photo)
- Add staff badge photos via Active Directory Sync but disable the option for staff to change their own photos. This is the hardest stance to take as staff who REALLY don’t like their badge photos would be resentful and we could see a negative usage effect from that. But this would have the effect of making sure EVERYONE on the intranet has a photo and over time hope that resistance fades as folks realize their initial fears of someone tampering with their identity are unfounded
- Don’t import anything but encourage folks to update their profiles with a photo of their choice. If we did this there would have to be an administrative expectation that the photo is a portrait – no jumping dogs or cartoon characters. On the down-side we would not have 100% compliance so many staff profiles on the intranet would be incomplete, undermining the benefits of having photos
4 Action Tasks to Go Into Your Plan
My hope is that the benefits will outweigh the fears. Our plan moving forward is to:
- Use a test group to explore the use of photos and employee walls then share their experiences with folks who may be timid or fearful
- Allow staff to modify or delete their photo (real and sometimes legal reasons exist that mandate a person prevent the sharing of their photo)
- Discuss with leadership the pros and cons of this feature and allay their fears but also try to achieve a consensus about what administrative expectations are, keeping in mind company goals, culture, and security
- Extend training and news about these changes to staff, to allow time for feedback prior to a full-on deployment
Are you in the same boat? Let us know if Peter’s story helped and how you have (or plan to) get buy-in from employees and stakeholders on allowing staff photos on your intranets.
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