Digitalization Management

Digitalization: how to handle excess people

Much has been written about the future of work and how humans will be aided or replaced by robots and intelligent algorithms. However, an important point is left out of the discussion: how should you handle the extra people now available? Idle hands are the devil’s workshop

No technological revolution has resulted in fewer jobs. If anything, previous revolutions have increased the amount of jobs available and the size of the workforce.

Up until now, technology has been used for making humans more productive and able to focus on what humans do best: solve difficult problems. This is happening yet again,

and results in two big holes being created. One, where there is a need for qualified workers to create and maintain the new tech. The other, where the displaced workers are not (yet) qualified to perform the new activities. Namely create and maintain the new tech.

You might not have too many employees, but you will have unqualified ones

A simple robot (Robot Process Automation) can read a request, scan through a database of possible solutions, choose the best of them, tailor the solution to the specific request and deliver it in record time and in better quality than a human would.

Look around your office now. How many of your colleagues tasks could be replaced by new technology like described above?

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Same production output will be achieved with less and less direct human intervention.

Up-skilling your team while deploying the tech is key

You know that tech is not going away, that your boss wants you to improve your processes and jump on the digitalization bandwagon, right? Good.

Next step: how can you make this meaningful and useful for your current team?

Unsuccessful transformations usually fall into a very common pitfall: they leave the people behind.

When you know your processes, it becomes easy to hire in the skill sets you need and make it happen in record time. However, this approach leaves a huge gap for your current team to bridge.

Successful transformations on the other hand have one thing in common: they make sure that the team is transformed (not necessarily changed) with the business.

This usually means that while the business processes are being transformed and new technologies are being introduced, the current team members are brought along on the journey.

With this approach, upgrading people’s current skills becomes key in order to allow them to be part of the change, continue the trend and keep processes running in the future.

Managing the transition well is a mark of good leadership

There is no transformation of any sort without leadership. Having the ability to bring your people along, upgrade their skills and get them looking in the same direction is a strong foundation to build upon.

During the process – which usually has no end – you as a leader needs to make sure your team is facing interesting challenges and is matched with activities that suits their interests and abilities.

Whilst you have little room to influence their interests, you have a big role in shaping their skills. When leading the team, it pays off to be several steps ahead, know what new technologies are coming into use and get your teams experienced with them.

At this stage, hands on experience, as opposed to theory only, is key. Some companies have had big successes in paring newly trained employees with experienced ones (or consultants), while new technologies are being developed, in order to get them proper real life experiences.

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In conclusion: – There will be more jobs, but they require different skills – Changes will not happen from one day to the next, so prepare for it. – Upskill your team so they can take charge during the changes.

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