There are lots of reasons an organization may struggle with the decision to automate. For instance, there’s the financial investment and, of course, the time and resources it will take to integrate and roll out the new platform. But perhaps the biggest hurdle many companies face when it comes to successfully adopting automation is the resistance they get from employees.
Whether they’re just uncomfortable with change or they’re worried that the technology will make their jobs redundant, without buy-in across the board, your automation implementation project will be much more difficult than it has to be. Thankfully with the right approach and some strategic planning, this fear of automation can be overcome.
What’s the secret? One word: communication.
The reality is, people fear what they don’t understand. The mistake many organizations make when implementing automation is to leave employees out of the loop. Not only does this lack of communication breed fear of the unknown, but it also allows legitimate questions to go unanswered and irrational concerns to go unaddressed.
Instead, part of the planning process that happens well in advance of the new technology being implemented should include a strategy for letting employees know what’s happening, why and – most importantly – how it will actually benefit them (as opposed to ruin their lives and career.)
Some important factors to keep in mind:
- Buy-in starts from the top and trickles down, so make sure executives and managers are on-board, positive and openly supportive of the new automation platform.
- Keep the lines of communication open in both directions. Encourage employees to voice their concerns and ask questions and respond honestly.
- Whenever possible, include end-users in decisions, even if it’s through polls and surveys. When people feel heard and empowered, they’re more likely to view change in a positive light.
- Don’t just tell them the features of automation, but demonstrate how those features will benefit them. For instance, instead of saying automation will improve efficiency, show them that they will no longer have to be tied down by those boring manual tasks anymore.
- Have a plan in place for those whose roles will be changing. In some instances, automation will inevitably result in significant changes to particular roles held by humans. If possible, offering options like upskilling, further training and other career path opportunities can ease this transition and make it a more positive one.
Of course, in order to achieve this level of open, honest and positive communication, organizational leaders must themselves have a clear understanding of what automation is and how it will impact the day to day lives of their employees. Designating a Chief Automation Officer (CAO) to spearhead training, planning and communication can be highly beneficial, both with the initial roll out as well as the ongoing utilization of the technology as it continues to evolve and improve in the future.