Team member profiles or biographies can be found on many organisations’ sites. For most of them, employees are the best resource and, also, the best ambassadors. A college, for example, must have visible teaching staff members to attract students and funders as well.
There are, obviously, exceptions. A few companies like Brain Traffic or Mule Design (who instead put forth their writing) have dispensed with this section of their site entirely. Maybe their communications strategy focuses on their methods and brand rather than on the specific people working there. Maybe they realise what a mess biographies can become. Maybe both. It always pays to ask if a section of your website is worth having and maintaining.
Let’s say you decide it is worth the investment. Keep in mind that all content is political. Any discussions about content can surface power struggles in the organisation. Managing biographies even more so because the self-representation needs of the employees will clash with the organisation’s agenda.
Lots of organisations just give up on having difficult conversations and they’ll leave the content up to the person being profiled.
If employees end up being responsible for their own profile pages, messes can be very costly. Quite often, in huge organisations encouraging collaboration and transdisciplinarity, people will have many profiles across different departments and teams.
Every change has to be made multiple times — most probably through people who have direct access to the CMS. Often, they’re different people in each department. This operation therefore has to be repeated several times. That is a horrible waste of everyone’s time and focus. It creates a lot of frustration too. People put it off for as long as possible and, in the meantime, profiles get out-of-date and out of sync with their other ones.
The whole organisation can benefit from having standards around voice and tone, length and even which topics are discussed and which aren’t in these biographical sections. For example, few people always insist on giving the number of their children on their profiles.
Can employees represent themselves with complete freedom on their employers’ website? Do employees get to decide which photo they want on their profiles without any guidelines?
It pays to have these conversations and put standards in place especially if the employees are represented as ambassadors for the business and their presence has to serve clear business goals. Having clarity and consistency in the biographical section of the website projects a coherent image of the team. It is achievable if you define a clear purpose for this section as well as communicate this purpose clearly to team members.