Would You Trust a Robot Over Your Manager?

64% per cent say yes, according to a new study

Oracle and Future Workplace’s recent study shows that AI (artificial intelligence) isn’t as ‘scary’ as it used to be. Employees are keen to continue embracing technological advancements in the workplace. 36% of those surveyed said that new AI will help with gaining more free time and learning new skills, and 28% were excited to be able to make their roles more strategy-based.

Perhaps the most startling response of all, however, is that 64% said that they would trust a robot over their manager.

What does all this tell us? That AI is going to continue making our working lives more efficient, and that there is a massive lack of trust in many of our managers.

How can managers win back the trust of their employees? And just how are robots and other forms of AI making workplaces more productive?

From robots to AI – what technology can do in the workplace

Robots aren’t just used in warehouses for picking and packing; there are a whole host of tasks that robots can be programmed to do. They are favoured over their human counterparts for menial and repetitive actions, as they work quickly, effortlessly and impeccably.

AI isn’t just robots, however, and not all robots come under the AI umbrella either. Artificial intelligence has been designed for many workplace-related functions such as filtering job applicants, budgeting, scheduling, solving issues and answering queries.

Being able to automate these tasks that are so time-consuming and need to be as free from error as possible is a boon for businesses. Leaving these applications up to AI frees employees up for more important jobs while ensuring they are still performed accurately and quickly.

For example, customer service is improved when AI is used, as there is more time for employees to focus on stakeholder relationship management. Instead of being bogged down in the administrative details, they can entrust an automated system and go on with other tasks.

This level of trust in technology should be the same as we have in our managers, but, as OaFW’s study showed, it’s not the case.

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What managers can do to earn trust from their employees

AI can already do some incredible things, and who knows what the future holds. So, can managers even keep up, and is it fair to compare the two?

Humans are never going to be infallible. It’s just not in our nature, but we expect to be able to have a certain level of trust in our managers. After all, managers have something that no AI is capable of – the ability to coach, show kindness, be courageous, understand feelings, evaluate the performance of teams, and create and promote a workplace culture.

Managers need to be focusing on developing and practising these skills – and if they say they don’t have time, they need to be taking advantage of the technology available to them. Most time is eaten up trying to solve things or complete tasks that AI could solve almost instantly, and with fewer errors, as shown by a study from Accenture that Harvard Business Review referenced.

They found that managers are wasting hours on work that is of low-value, work that an AI program could be doing instead. Rather than being occupied with these tasks and unintentionally neglecting their customers and employees, managers could be free to develop themselves and those around them. They would be able to dedicate time to coaching, service and building rapport and culture in their workplace.

You can’t escape technological advances – so work on improving your leadership to keep up!

There will always need to be humans in the workforce, so it’s important that a manager is able to focus on their people.

Whether it’s pride or a distrust of the technology that their employees embrace, managers need to get with the times and learn to work with the AI that is there to make their jobs easier. By letting AI take care of the low-value tasks, relationships, collaboration and creativity flourish – and that’s what this world needs more of!

The Author – Sonia McDonald

Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’.  She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn inspire and bring out the best in others.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of human resource management. She has held leadership positions around the globe and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly effective leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, who puts people at ease and starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

Contact Sonia or her team at McDonald Inc. at https://mcdonaldinc.com.au/ or https://soniamcdonald.com.au/