AI continues to shape our world as a whole, changing how we interact with just about everything around us. The HR world is experiencing a quantum leap in technology that leverages intelligent automation, robots, chatbots, paperless forms, and numerous digital solutions to important processes.
From Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” to iRobot, and to modern day movies like Iron Man, the expectation of living in a real futuristic world is unfolding before our very eyes. Creators and programmers continue to push the envelope on what is possible, as automated chatbots are sometimes difficult to distinguish from a real customer service rep, massive amounts of data are kept in the “cloud” without a single piece of paper, and processes are carried out without human intervention. It’s truly a remarkable time as this technology takes shape.
And while there are many who fully embrace this type of technology, there are many others who fear the loss of jobs, or who have concerns about the future working relationships between humans and robots. This is not to discount any of those concerns. It seems we are on our way of having to address the ethics of what artificial intelligence can be allowed to do, especially in light of instances in which AI learns by itself, creating it’s own language and communication mechanism that can’t be controlled by humans. Just ask Facebook.
But in spite of the concerns, there are some really practical ways in which AI and intelligent automation actually makes us “more human”…
Leadership is a human trait, and businesses rise and fall on leadership. Intelligent automation in our processes gives us back much needed time to develop as leaders. If you’re an HR professional, you understand the many processes that require your attention from onboarding, to visa management, to documentation, to safety training, to FMLA tracking, PTO tracking and more. Every one of these processes requires a tremendous amount of human effort to not only execute, but to do so within the confines of strict local, state, and federal compliance regulations.
PDFs, spreadsheets, file sharing, and email help to some degree, but they still leave gaps in compliance and communication. All of this time just to maintain records, takes away from your ability to both develop as a leader, and to actually lead.
Automation in these processes gives you the time to step into leadership development, personal development, and into the new found time of listening and communicating with your employees and staff.
The introduction of chatbots has revolutionized how we can communicate with others, as well as the speed with which we can communicate. Automated responses driven by bots allows us to communicate literally from anywhere, 24/7. Onboarding a new employee? When intelligent bots are driving the process, they can automatically send content to your new hire on next steps, based on the parameters required to execute the process. This gives an employee the information he or she needs at the touch of a smartphone or laptop. Additionally, an employee can submit questions and receive answers almost immediately, even while you’re getting much needed beauty sleep.
How does this make us more human? For one, there is a tremendous amount of stress removed from our processes when intelligent automation is driving the content and action of our processes. This literally removes some of the communication required from HR personnel to assure procedures, training, and compliance issues are being completed. This new-found time allows for more human to human interaction on things other than the “nuts and bolts” of the daily grind.
And the type of communication that it allows can now be centered around the things that are important to your business like training, providing feedback, productivity, helping employees on their career development, and more.
This may be a little different angle than the other two points, but perhaps it’s the most important. The hallmark of great leaders is their empathy. Of course we all know of some “great” leader that lacks or lacked empathy. But if you’re in HUMAN resources, empathy is a must. And truth be told, the great leaders who better the personal lives of others have marked empathy.
But what does this have to do with artificial intelligence and automation? Well, the less time you spend in processes, and trying to figure things out, the more time you have to plug-in to your people, what they’re feeling, what they’re scared of, what they’re struggling with, and what they need. And empathy is the thing that allows us to give people what they need.
If you’re giving out of what you want to give, that’s not giving, that’s manipulation to get someone to give you what you want or need. Empathy leads us to understand what someone else needs, and then give it to them. It’s really no different between a personal relationship and a business relationship. People need to be heard and understood, and empathy does that. When you can remove some of the things that drain your time and energy, this opens up the space for you to connect.
Empathy is a human trait, and no matter how advanced the technology, only humans can relate to how another human feels. So leverage the technology to take care of the numbers, procedures, documentation, and compliance processes, so that you can be the person your team needs you to be.