Automation as a Means of Increasing Human Potential: Which Traits and Skills Will Automation Help Promote in Human Workers?

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article | AUTOMATION AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN POTENTIAL: WHICH TRAITS AND SKILLS WILL AUTOMATION HELP PROMOTE IN HUMAN WORKERS?Automation will not replace jobs outright but augment and enhance them by streamlining and simplifying certain repetitive or low-value tasks. In the case of the machine operator, manual labor and routine tasks are most likely to be automated, while management, team-building, employee training and production supervision may now find themselves moved into priority roles. Likewise, our professional’s routine and computational tasks may find themselves automated, making room for other priorities like management, employee development and technology upskilling.

When used properly, automation doesn’t kill jobs; it rearranges their structure. And in the most outcome-driven scenarios, it improves their structure by creating more opportunities for human workers to focus on high-value tasks that cannot be automated.

Another way to look at automation is as a time-creation engine: automation manufactures time. Every man-hour it takes on is a man-hour gained. That man-hour can be subtracted from a company’s balance sheet and treated as a cost savings, or it can be reassigned to a high-value task that could not, until then, be budgeted for. Thus, each man-hour assigned to a machine creates an additional man-hour that can be assigned to a capable, high-value human worker. When we mentioned that automation should be additive rather than subtractive, this is what we mean: a hundred man-hours freed by an effective use of automation could be treated as a cost saving, but doesn’t it make more sense to maximize the value of that gain in one hundred man-hours, and reinvest it in the company? Apply it to solving a problem, improving a system, building a new revenue stream, designing the next killer app?

The lowest hanging fruit in the business world is finding ways to cut costs. This isn’t to say that running a lean organization doesn’t have its advantages. Cutting costs and trimming fat in ways that ultimately help companies perform better are always wins. But the reflex to cut costs just because you can isn’t necessarily the best way to drive towards market leadership. Sometimes, re-tasking resources from low-value to high-value tasks makes more sense than throwing them away.

A case in point: digital transformation, technology disruption and the monumental task of rebuilding businesses for a 21st-century digital economy are not the types of challenges that companies can hope to address successfully by cutting costs and cutting corners. Smart, agile companies know how to unlock their own parts and move them around at will. They are modular. Job descriptions and departments evolve. IT managers at these companies aren’t operating the way they were 10 years ago or 5 years ago, or even a year ago. Every aspect of the business is in a state of constant change and adaptation. Automation for these types of companies, which are typically digital leaders, isn’t used to shrink the number of employees. It is used to free up capital to hire more people, and free up human workers to focus on more high-value and meaningful tasks.

About the Authors

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Olivier BlanchardStrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Daniel NewmanThis article is adapted from HUMAN/MACHINE: The Future Of Our Partnership With Machines by Daniel Newman & Olivier Blanchard. Daniel is the principal analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Oliver is a senior analyst with Futurum Research, where he focuses on the impact of emerging and disruptive technologies.

For more information please visit

Four Qualities You Want in a Potential Employee

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | Talent Management | Hiring | Entrepreneurship | Four Qualities You Want in a Potential EmployeeIf you are involved in the hiring process for your company, you are very likely wise to the fact that searching for and hiring a new employee is no easy task. Along with the pressure of making sure you fill a vacancy in a timely manner, comes the task of sifting through hundreds, maybe thousands of applications to find the ideal candidates.

There are also times when the number of candidates you consider inhibits your ability to pinpoint exactly what qualities would best be suited towards the position that you are looking to fill.

Here are four specific qualities that you should look for when conducting your search for your ideal employee.

1. Excellent Communication Skills

The ability to communicate well, both in speech and the written word, sounds as though it should be a given quality in every candidate. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. It is important that you confirm that the individuals you employ can hold their own when it comes to communication.

The last thing you want to do is to set yourself up to have an employee who is unable to appropriately handle internal communications. If your company is like most others, the day-to-day success of your operation involves many moving parts. From office memos to updates on various projects, it is critical that all those involved have the ability to communicate clearly and concisely.

Additionally, if the position you are hoping to fill is one that involves any aspect of client contact, it would be less than ideal to have someone in that position who is unable to adequately communicate with your customers.

For a more specific idea of the communication skills that you should be keeping an eye out for, check out this comprehensive list that the experts at Habits for Wellbeing put together.

2. Advanced Degrees

Not only does the fact that your potential employee has an advanced degree demonstrate a certain level of commitment to the industry in which you both work, but it also shows that this individual has the ability to learn and improve. Furthermore, it also indicates that they have a desire to continue to do both of those things.

Depending on the type of business that you are in, there are particular degrees that seem particularly appealing to employers. Generally speaking, if someone has an MBA, for example, that means that the person you are considering has spent time developing critical skills that will come in handy in the business world.

Don’t be deterred by a candidate who has earned their degree in a less traditional manner, either. More and more students are earning their advanced degrees online, for instance. Prominent and accredited schools like Suffolk University Online MBA can be trusted to have properly educated those who go through their programs.

3. The Right Attitude

The right employee should also come with the right attitude. Remember, this person is going to become a part of your company. You might be in a situation where you will be working side by side with this individual, and in that case, you don’t want to hire someone whose attitude doesn’t fit the bill or your company.

On the other hand, you might be filling a position in another department from yours. In that instance, you want to avoid any potential for future friction amongst other employees.

There are also certain characteristics that tend to make for a good employee no matter what line of work you are in. Does this person seem like they have ambition? Are they positive-minded and pleasant to be around? All of these things are important to consider particularly when you are in the interviewing part of the hiring process.

4. Staying Potential

The last thing you want is to fast-forward to six months from now only to find yourself having to fill the exact same position once again. It is important to find someone who is in it for the long haul. This simply comes down to asking for an honest estimation of the candidate’s dedication to the job you are offering.

Does this person have any long-term plans that might inhibit their ability to stick around? Do they have all the skills that it takes to be a success in this position? If not, you might risk that person falling short of fulfilling all the duties that the job requires of them. In that case, they might be the ones ultimately deciding that it isn’t a good fit.

How To Create A Productive Office

StrategyDriven Talent Management ArticleSometimes it’s hard to stay focused when you’re at work, especially if you’re inside a stifling office space on a warm day. Of course, you’d always rather be somewhere else than at work, but what you can do is make your working environment more appealing, more fun, and a productive place to be. If you’re an office manager and you’re considering making changes to the place in order to boost productivity, then your first port of call should be to ask your staff members. Once you’ve got a good idea of what needs changing, and you’ve assessed the suggestions, you can then get to work.


If your office space is looking outdated and is showing signs of wear and tear, then now is the time to consider a complete refurbishment. As long as your budget permits it, gut the entire office in favor of new flooring, freshly painted walls throughout, new and improved desks and chairs, and a reworking of the oppressive overhead lights. Pile the accumulated waste into a dumpster provided by a Dumpster rental Phoenix, so that it can be disposed of responsibly. Clean out your office and strip it back to basics to rebuild an attractive and productive environment.

Encourage Socialization

When it comes to decorating, try and create communal spaces that encourage your team to talk to each other and build relationships. When designing the staffroom, opt for large long couches so that the team has to be convivial and sit next to one another. Prepare group work, and ask that small teams work together to create a final result. Praise the teams for their effort and consideration of others.

Improve Air Quality

Without proper air ventilation, it’s very easy to become unfocused, tired, and to overheat – all of which aren’t going to help your team in trying to be as productive as possible. So, install new ventilation units if the current ones are somewhat lackluster, and keep plants in every available space throughout the premises. After all, not many people object to flowers, fresh greens, and other plants that keep the air clean. Having said this, always makes sure to ask about allergies before adding foliage around the office.

Offer Tea And Coffee

If you work in an office, you’ll understand the importance of caffeinated beverages to power you through the morning. Recognize that your team work hard to achieve their targets and reach their goals, so help them along the way and offer free coffee and tea whenever they might be in need of a pick-me-up. Create an inclusive, friendly environment for your employees, and you might just find that productivity increases tenfold.

Have An Open Door Policy

Your employees need to know that they can approach you whenever they need to discuss something. So, with this in mind, consider operating an open door policy whereby you’re on hand whenever the need arises. Tell your staff that you care about their welfare, their opinion, and possible suggestions about how the office is run and how the company performs. If your team know that you’re there to offer assistance and help them, then they should feel more relaxed, understood, and willing to work hard.

Bridging The Business Gap Between Office And Production

No employer wants to deal with workplace divides that impact everything from efficiency to general atmosphere. It’s no wonder, then, that the majority of modern employers implement anti-bullying and discrimination policies, as well as taking fast action when disagreements do arise. Yet, despite your efforts, there may be a divide within the workplace that you’re forgetting to account for.

In businesses that deal with both office and production-based staff especially, resentments can often build due to discrepancies in the way different colleagues are treated. Production staff, in particular, often end up on the outside of an otherwise happy office bubble, especially as we increasingly focus company efforts online. But, this can cause all manner of issues considering that you rely on your production team to create the very items you’ll be shipping to your computer-based consumers.

With this in mind, it’s worth nipping resentment here in the bud before it grows, and we’ve got some pointers to help you do it.

Provide the same perks to both teams

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article | Bridging The Business Gap Between Office And Production

Resentment is inevitable if your office colleagues enjoy a decent aircon and the latest tech while production staff  are stuck next door in a cold factory that relies on outdated machines. Your first step for overcoming adversity and keeping morale strong across the business board is, therefore, to take time providing those same perks to your production staff. By this, we mean that you should implement heaters in the factory, and even invest in cutting-edge machine equipment as offered by companies like Equally, making sure that break rooms and other such benefits are available to all can go a long way towards making sure no member of your team feels forgotten or pushed aside at any time.

Encourage integration

Departmental separations can be hard to overcome, hence why many managers implement open office and collaborative working to avoid them. Still, few company heads think to integrate warehouse and office staff in the same ways. They work in entirely different spheres, after all, so why bother? Actually, there’s a very good reason, and it again comes down to employee happiness. Failing to connect with every face in the workplace can cause a disconnect and a generally fragmented workforce that you don’t want. Make sure that doesn’t happen by arranging meetings that always include your entire staff and encouraging office-production nights out, etc. as much as you can.

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article | Bridging The Business Gap Between Office And Production

Keep rules consistent

Workplace rules are essential, as is consistency when you apply them. You’ve heard the saying ‘one rule for one, another rule for the other,’ right? If you allow office staff to eat at their desks and get drinks when they want while your production staff are restricted by health and safety, for instance, you’re automatically going to ruffle feathers. Instead, make sure that office staff are in keeping with rules like no eating at work units, too. This small nod to equality might just be the final effort you need to keep both sides of your company on even footing at last.

Ways To Create A Harmonious Workplace

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | Ways To Create A Harmonious Workplace

Nobody wants to come to work to be unhappy. More importantly, when you consider how much time your employees actually spend in the workplace, you can appreciate the need to need for your team to be happy at work. An unhappy and stressful work environment can have a very real impact on the mental health of your employees. As a business leader, you have a duty of care to ensure that the health and happiness of your team are maintained at a high standard.

From a business point of view, creating a happy workplace means that you will have a more productive team. There will be less sickness due to stress, and your team will work together in a more effective manner.

But, how do you prevent internal conflict and problems that stem from the way that the company is managed? Here are some ways that you can create a harmonious workplace.

Get Outside Help

If there are signs of any conflicts within the workplace, or the way that you are running the company seems to be bringing about stress and unhappiness, then this could end up being quite costly.

Seeking external help will mean that you get an outsider’s point of view. And a company that deals in dispute resolution and litigation solutions will be able to provide operational support and advice from a legal standpoint.

Have Policies In Place To Protect The Team

Many insecurities and stresses in the workplace stem from concerns over the fact that there are no policies that allow the team to feel secure. By making sure that all of their rights are taken into consideration in their contract and in the company policies and procedures will ensure that they feel secure and protected.

Foster A Policy Of Open Communication

Your employees have a right to know as much as possible about their workplace. Of course, there will be matters that they don’t need to know. However, if there are changes that may occur, consulting with your team and being open about them well ahead of their implementation will provide the time for any adjustments.

Be sure that you have an open-door policy, where you are approachable and free to answer any questions or deal with any concerns that your employees may evert have.

Encourage Your Team To Celebrate Each Other’s Successes

Success is something that should always be celebrated. You need to make sure that you create a workplace where this is standard practice.

As habits and behaviors are learned parrot fashion, you need to lead by example. Find the time each week to point out the success of the team, but also to highlight different personal successes. Don’t just focus on the same people each week though, and try and demonstrate a variety of skills and successes to celebrate.

A great way of encouraging your team to share in each other’s success is to create a noticeboard where they can leave positive thoughts about other members of the team. A ‘motivation station’ is great for building morale and making sure everyone feels part of the team.