Some organizations don’t use the profile in SharePoint’s MySite at all. Most of those who do use it exactly as it arrives in the box. But low adoption and doubts from executives often stifle further investment in what could be a tremendously valuable tool for the business.

The opposite end of this spectrum is the organization that customizes the MySite to meet important business needs.

For example, we recently worked with a client to consider how its MySite could address specific interests expressed by employees in interviews and testing. Here’s a stripped-down sample wireframe.

Sample SharePoint Profile

A few notes and observations about this approach:

  • I can see how far along I am with completing my profile, which incents completion.
  • I’m seeing recommendations for other people and teams for me to follow.
  • Badges I’ve earned for my contributions appear here, but may also appear elsewhere as other users encounter my name.
  • I can see who in the organization is looking at my profile.

This approach came about from a series of user interviews and usability testing. It’s an example of where you can take SharePoint if you’re willing to listen to users and do some customization. The client is looking at building this in its SharePoint 2010 environment.

Photo Fears

One of the concerns I hear most often is about the profile photograph. I have several clients that do not believe they should allow the use of a photo other than the one used on the employee’s security badge. Employees, meanwhile, prefer the ability to post something that doesn’t look like a mug shot.

This is a management issue no different than misuse of email. If problems are observed, they should be corrected and discussed with employees. Managers must take the time to periodically review profiles of their employees.

It is a matter of trust. If your organization is trying to shift culture toward one that generates innovation, self-service and initiative, then building trust is a step in the right direction. Letting employees post a photo of their choice is one small demonstration of your trust in their decision-making ability. You’ll still set guidelines and conduct periodic auditing. But, at least you’ve opened the door to a more transparent environment.

Badges of Honor

Another consideration is whether to use badges. They can be a surprisingly big incentive--if used strategially and consistently.

Badging takes more than just designing a few badges and throwing them out there. You need to identify goals and criteria for earning and keeping a badge. Then you need to establish the processes that support those criteria.

You must also determine where badges appear throughout the SharePoint interface. Obvious places are alongside users’ names in search results and activity feeds. Less obvious places are the contact footer and in your messaging app (e.g., Lync).

Some badge types include:

  • Top Commenter: based on comment activity across the entire site
  • Top Profile: based on percentage of profile completed (similar to the LinkedIn All Star)
  • Expert: self-identified or based on a certification, around a specific topical area of study
  • Contributor: based upon activity across the entire digital workplace or a specific part of it
  • Collaborator: based upon activity and contributions in a community or team space; could be given to an entire team
  • Innovator: based on idea contributions in a tool designed to capture, rate, prioritize and track ideas

Take your profile to the next level by incorporating capabilities users have become accustomed to in apps such as LinkedIn and Facebook. The greatest value will be in enabling employees to find colleagues without knowing their name.

Stacy Wilson, ABC, Eloquor Consulting, helps companies communicate more effectively with employees in the digital workplace. Her specialty is supporting governance, usability, content and adoption for digital workplaces/intranets, along with change communication for technology change such as ERP implementations. Connect with Stacy at LinkedIn or on Twitter, or with Eloquor on Facebook.