In the automation age, bring results, not excuses

Automation technology isn't limited to factories and warehouses. Your job may be at risk, but you can remain an essential worker if you focus on producing results.
This is a photo of Mark Goulston, M.D.
Mark Goulston, M.D.

This is not meant to make anyone who has been pushed out by automation technology feel worse about their situation.

It is meant to say that you’re not alone and that all human beings in the workforce are at risk —in a prior blog I wrote how even CEO’s can be replaced. We are all in this together.

At a meeting I attended recently, I saw some amazing and disturbing videos about automation technology.

As I watched, I not only laughed along with the Google AI audience, but I thought about the jobs that could be affected by this technology. This could eliminate many customer service jobs where callers will feel they are truly speaking to a person rather than the pre-recorded voice prompts that cause them to feel frustrated before talking with the real people beyond those commands.

I also thought this could also eliminate the need for nurses and could be done remotely as patients speak to a virtual nurse while in a hospital bed. Other nursing functions could then easily be given over to lower-paid personnel.

The next video was a more disturbing, but fictional take on the future of war.

As I watched this, I thought, “Great! We can wage war and kill the enemy without losing any of our own troops.” Well, that could eliminate the need for many troops in the armed forces, which means even more people available for the workforce and one that may not need them.

As I watched this, I had an ironic chuckle and thought, “Good! Score one for the human workforce as still being necessary.”

Now we all know that whatever glitches there are at Tesla with automation needing some human intervention, those glitches will be fixed and they go back to not needing those human workers.

After seeing all three videos, I thought that the half-life of words like performance and productivity is almost over. Let’s face it, we’re not evaluated on our performance and productivity. We’re judged on our results and now they are measurable.

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Years ago, W. Edwards Deming said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” We’re getting closer to a newer version of the famous riddle, “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?” which is, “If a worker accomplishes something in the workplace and it can’t be measured, did it actually happen?”

So, what’s my point?

Results are what count. Results that are measurable are becoming the standard for evaluating workplace productivity. Technology is producing better results than the human workforce.

Adding to the dilemma, technology is becoming more adept at communicating with other technology. On the other hand, human communication is deteriorating with humans becoming less clear and articulate whenever we try to communicate with one another.

What’s the takeaway?

In matters of the world, don’t think of what you know, or what you can do. Think of what results you can get done for others that matter to them.

And the more you can know those results ahead of time without people telling you, the more impactful and memorable you will be and the more you will distinguish yourself from other workers, even if they are robots.

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Dr. Mark Goulston is an award-winning business psychiatrist, a consultant for Fortune 500 companies and the best-selling author of seven books. His latest, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with Irrational and Irresponsible People in your Life can be found on Amazon. Catch up on Dr. Goulston’s previous articles here.

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