How to overcome resistance to automation
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When it comes to automation, the value proposition seems clear cut: it strengthens operations, slashes overhead costs, and supports bottom-line growth. There is, of course, a wrinkle: people fear change.
While many businesses are eager to automate as many processes as possible, a portion of Small And Midsize Businesses either lack the resources or the will to streamline simple tasks. Sometimes, there's even outright resistance—employees fear replacement, leaders fret over inflexible workflows, or traditionalists dread the drumbeat of new technology conquering their way of work.
It's critical that processes are crafted, first and foremost, for humans. Change management should begin immediately when creating a new process; failing to plan all but guarantees resistance. This requires a deep and extensive understanding of where employees are. This may not be where you want them.
Tech-friendly workers are often out of touch with other employees. What might be second nature to you or me—using keyboard shortcuts, setting up inbox rules, or even enabling night mode—simply doesn't cross the minds of workers who are focused on completing the task they are paid to complete.
Professionals are overloaded with inputs. Emails, phone calls, incessant Slack pings—the fact is, most employees won't pay much attention to a process until it's forced upon them.
To get through effectively, you need to over-communicate. Then, you need to simplify your message.
Zealous and clear messaging guarantees a baseline understanding of how new automations will help.
As an internal champion of automation, you need allies. Across teams and departments, you'll find early adopters and advocates who eagerly embrace change. These employees will help you with a smooth transition.
Connecting with these influencers early in the automation process is crucial. Get their earnest feedback, highlight their contributions internally, and probe them on how effective a proposed change might actually be in the real world.
Even though some of the backend steps won't ever be visible to end-users, it's still a good practice to keep your automations straightforward.
After all, it's possible you'll need to train someone on maintaining these processes in the future, and intricate flows are more likely to break. Excessive complexity will only lead to more growing pains.
It's easy to get lost in the excitement of building something new; to fixate on outcomes over impact; to lose sight of the humans that ultimately drive your company's culture and operations.
Change is never easy, so put yourself in the shoes of the people most affected by the changes you're making.
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