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12 May 2016

Put your damn photo on your work tool profiles.

Use a photo on your online profiles at work. Here is why.

Put your photo on your profiles.

Right now we are more globally dispersed than ever before, and people on opposite sides of the world have had very little interaction or chances to get to know each other. That will change over time, but we’ll also continue to grow and recruit new team members. Managing connected-ness over distance is becoming an increasingly important competence for more and more of our team members.

To increase our ability to collaborate, to work together and be one great team, we need to overcome the impediments that distance puts between us.

Distance presents all sorts of collaboration challenges; time differences, lags in back and forth communication and a variety of other things that slow the transfer of information from person to person.

Distance also stops us from even considering communicating. There is something called the Allen curve, which is backed up by repeated experiments over time that shows that essentially Out of Site equals Out of Mind. If we can’t see you we typically don’t think about you.

Photos on your Slack or Intranet profile won’t make a huge difference to this, but it will help people in other buildings recognise you and know who you are, and think about you as a human being rather than just a faceless name from another place. This combined with other interactions and activities will gently contribute to trust across the geographical divides.
So put your photo on your Confluence, Slack and other profiles.

Yeah, but no.

If we do nothing to address trust people will start wondering “What’s he building in there?” There will be suspicion, uncertainty, doubt and ultimately fear. And we all know where that leads us…

So, a photo is a little thing, but it helps. It’s absence hurts.

Tips for a good profile pic.

Here are some tips to do the picture thing well.

Use a photo of yourself. Photos humanize the name from another place. They help people who are travelling recognize you when they walk for the first time into your building. Using a cartoon character, an image from the internet, or a photo of someone else might be amusing, but they don’t contribute to trust, recognition and understanding.

Use a recent image. That picture of me from 2001 isn’t really going to help people recognize me when I walk into their office for the first time next week.

Make it a headshot. Headshots are best - profile photos are small. Don’t make it hard for people to recognise you from the photo.

Make eye contact with the camera. People will be able to look right at you and recognize you when they walk for the first time into your office. Don’t have that photo? Close approximation will probably do.

Smile, Damn it. Look friendly and approachable. Smiling is a smart option. After all, it’s trust we are working on here.

Don’t worry about perfect. Good enough is making a small effort. It shows you care. It shows you have taken a few moments to do something for others. That’s a great step.

Thank you.

Now go upload your profile picture.