I recently participated in a Twitter chat hosted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos on the topic of predictions. You can check out the chat recap on the Workforce Institute blog. One of the questions that we talked about was automation and machine learning. The idea being that machines can help us automate some aspects of work such as scheduling.
That’s why I couldn’t help but smile at this Time Well Spent cartoon from our friends at Kronos. Because the purpose of introducing machine learning isn’t so managers can spend less time with employees. It’s so they can better quality time on the right conversations. Even if those conversations are to coach employees and their performance. But in all seriousness, if organizations are planning to automate routine functions, there are a couple of things they need to consider.
Agree on the role of technology. There are many reasons to bring automation technology into the workplace. To save money, to free up manager time, etc. If organizations want their implementation to be successful, then everyone needs to be on the same page about why the new technology is being implemented. I’ve seen technology implementations go very wrong because one person on the team thought the new technology would reduce headcount and someone else thought it would free up time. Needless to say, these two people were constantly at odds because they had two different end goals.
Communicate the role of technology. Once key decision makers agree on the reason that the company is implementing automation technology, then make sure that everyone else knows. I’ve seen technology implementations get dragged out way too long because people assumed that the technology was taking their job instead of making their job easier. So, they made sure the implementation took an exceptionally long time to cover their bases. Totally unnecessary when everyone understands the reason that the technology is being implemented.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that technology and automation has become a big part of our personal and professional lives. But everyone reacts to new technology differently. We’re all not early adopters. So, organizations need to be prepared to share the “Why’s?” with employees. Not only will it make the implementation go smoother, but it will have a positive impact on the final outcome.14