intelligent automation - change management

Adopting Intelligent Automation: Managing Resistance to Change

Intelligent automation offers a variety of benefits to organizations, including improved efficiency, enhanced productivity, greater accuracy and output and an overall cost savings. For companies that have yet to employ this technology, however, the biggest hurdle to overcome in doing so is often resistance from employees. For some, this contention comes from fear of becoming obsolete, while others simply don’t like change. Whatever the reason, having the right strategy in place can help make adopting automation a smooth, painless and positive experience for everyone.

Change Management is About People

On the surface, managing change while implementing a technological advancement such as intelligent automation may seem to be all about the systems and processes being automated. In reality, however, change management is about understanding the fears, needs and desires of your company’s most valuable asset: your people. By addressing the human side of change, you can overcome the roadblocks and obstacles in your way and effectively change the outlook of even the strongest opposition.

Generally speaking, people tend to fall into 3 distinct
categories when it comes to adopting something new:

  • Those who vehemently oppose the proposed change
  • Those who are tentative about change
  • Those who are change champions

When planning your intelligent automation project, your strategy should incorporate the appropriate actions to address those individuals who fall into the first two categories. The ultimate goal is to change how your employees view the new technology being rolled out so that the process becomes a positive initiative that is driven forward by support rather than bogged down by resistance. That said, here are some proven best practices for effectively managing change in the workplace.

Conduct a readiness assessment. This can be done a number of ways, from holding focus groups to conducting a survey amongst all users. The purpose of a needs assessment is to identify the risks, benefits and potential obstacles that you may encounter when rolling out your intelligent automation initiative. It can also be helpful in determining areas of greatest resistance as well as the reasons behind the contention. Remember the old adage, you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.

Sell the benefits. People aren’t going to jump on your intelligent automation bandwagon unless and until you’ve convinced them that it’s worth their while. They want to know what’s in it for them. Address this by identifying, documenting, communicating and reiterating the specific benefits that adopting automation will have for each individual and team.

Make communication a priority. One of the biggest reasons people resist change is because they don’t understand what is being done or why it’s happening. This lack of knowledge naturally breeds fear, which can derail your intelligent automation initiative. To avoid this, keep the lines of communication open and make sure everyone knows not just what the big picture is, but also their important role in contributing to that big picture goal.

Lead by example. Leadership at every level and in every department should be on-board with adoption of intelligent automation. Excitement and positivity can be very powerful tools in effecting change across an organization. Make sure you have complete buy-in from all executives prior to launch and that they understand the importance of solidarity across the board.

Identify and leverage change champions. These are the individuals who are most excited about the adoption of intelligent automation and the many benefits it will provide. By identifying these key employees, you can begin to leverage them to influence their peers who may be feeling a bit less enthusiastic about the proposed change. These individuals can help bridge the gap between front-line employees and management and become a voice for those directly impacted by change.

Intelligent automation can dramatically improve your organization’s overall performance, but rolling out such an initiative can rarely be achieved without some type of resistance. By taking a proactive approach and developing and implementing an effective change management strategy, the experience will be much more positive for everyone involved.

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