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Autonomy by automation

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Vasin Lee)

Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic processing automation (RPA) are disrupting the market and employees are fearful they will lose their jobs to them. There is no need to fear because technology does not replace humans, in fact it augments their jobs by extending and enhancing human capabilities making employees more efficient and productive. Businesses need to take ownership of the change in culture by creating an innovative and open learning environment where people are not scared to fail and make mistakes. They must invest in prioritising their employees’ learning and development, and provide them with autonomy to do their jobs more effectively. 

Companies need to accept the change in culture that comes with digital transformation and not shy away from it. For some the change is often too overwhelming and is a barrier that prohibits businesses forging ahead with digital transformation. The digital age is here now and here to stay so it’s time for companies to change their mind-set, move out of their comfort zone and embrace the difference in culture that comes with the digital age. 

Growth Mindset

Companies are often not willing to change and want to do things the way they have always done. They are fearful of taking risks and failing; the ‘fixed mindset’ is common in business because people are scared as they are accountable and don’t want to get it wrong in case they lose their job. 

Today, the ‘fixed mindset’ has no place at the table and the CEO and members of the Senior Management team need to advocate and promote a ‘growth mindset’ outlook to succeed and grow. 

Innovation and Learning

An open learning and innovative environment should be fostered and employees should be encouraged to share ideas about the different ways technology can be used, discovering new ways of working, new products and services. They need to establish a sharing ethos and talk openly to each other to discover what they are working on, otherwise they can’t work in synergy. 

They need to have the courage to speak out and not to be afraid of being told it is a bad idea or it won’t work. Employees need the confidence and autonomy to see if their ideas will succeed and not be diminished if they fail. 

Providing Autonomy

The definition of autonomy is – ‘the ability to make your own decisions without being controlled by anyone else’. By providing autonomy to employees you are enabling them to mould their work environment so they can perform at their optimum. This is particularly important when augmenting the work place with technologies such as AI and RPA, as you are enabling your employees to make their own decisions on how to use the technology for their own advantage. 

Through autonomy employees become motivated, fully engaged and want to succeed and do well. The objective is getting the work done and not necessarily how it is done. Enabling employees to use their critical thinking skills to make their own decisions and choices and not be handcuffed by corporate polices and processes. Thus, they will be happier, more productive and will stay longer. 

Trusting Employees

Any autonomous business needs to trust its employees and realise that they are capable and trustworthy to do their jobs. Where and how they are working is irrelevant. 

More and more employees want the flexibility to work from home, or work from wherever they choose. Companies need to provide the technology for them to do so, such as a unified communications that enables them to screen share, perform audio and video calls and conduct conference calls and instant messages. 

Following the Guidelines 

Being an autonomous business does not give employees the right to do what they want to do and of course boundaries, procedures and guidance needs to be set for clarity. Strong leadership is also required for an autonomous business, not a lack or absence of leadership. 

Autonomy by Automation

Technology such as unified communication solutions, AI and RPA enables employees to do their jobs easier providing them with the tools to facilitate their autonomy in decision making.  In fact, controversially to what is said about humans being replaced by technology, it can help employees reach their objectives more easily. These technologies free up employees from the daily mundane tasks that can be handed over to AI solutions such as artificial conversational platforms, so employees can focus on strategic and creative areas of their jobs. So actually, it enhances and complements employee’s skills rather than takes them away.

While the conversational AI platform deals with a low value sales enquiry, the agent can use their critical thinking skills, along with their judgement and knowledge to provide the best solution they can in a more complex, higher value situation. 

Training and Development 

A company that cultivates a learning culture to develop its employees will not only benefit the business but will also have a happier workforce who will be fully engaged, more productive and less likely to leave. The Gallup Survey states a 22% higher productivity rate for organisations with highly engaged workforce. Goldsmith’s recent research report, ‘The Augmented Human Enterprise 2018), discovered that augmented enterprises were 41% more likely to encourage their employees to seek opportunities for professional growth. 

Calling in the Experts

Digital transformation is an evolutionary journey that should be broken down into manageable projects. It is advised that you work with a specialist Solutions and Managed Services Provider who will guide you through the change process, enabling you to transition to a new culture and digital transformation seamlessly. They will work closely with you to understand your business, ascertain your needs and select the right technology for your business.

Companies that plan on embarking on the digital transformation quest need to embrace the new culture and demonstrate to employees that they are prioritising their needs before technology by creating an open and innovative workplace where employees are encouraged to share ideas, make mistakes and not be scared to fail.  They will provide them with autonomy to get on with their jobs and work alongside the new technologies to augment the workplace and create opportunities for their own development and progression. Embracing the work place of today and tomorrow. 

Jonathan Sharp, Director of Britannic Technologies (opens in new tab)

Image Credit: Vasin Lee / Shutterstock

Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies has 20 years experience in IT & Telecoms with a proven ability to lead and motivate teams, execute change, deliver market differentiation and achieve profitable growth. Currently responsible at Britannic for Sales, PreSales, Marketing & Project Management teams and instrumental in company vision, strategy & direction.