Truck drivers and office workers aren’t the only people worried about losing their jobs to technology. Lawyers, surgeons, financial analysts – they thought they’d never have to worry, but they do, as software takes over parts of their work.
You can’t blame people for being anxious about how they can keep contributing maximum value in their organizations; but there’s good news for us humans: as technology advances, our most deeply human skills of personal interaction are growing more valuable. Those skills aren’t in conflict with technology; paradoxically, they enable us to work more effectively with technology.
Consider collaboration, a critical issue for every enterprise. Virtually every important decision today is made by teams, and team members are rarely sitting in the same room. Fascinating research finds that a key factor in team effectiveness is social sensitivity; the ability of team members to “read” one another. The original research studied teams that were physically together. But would the central finding hold up when team members were separated, communicating digitally? Remarkably, the answer is yes. Our deep human ability to “read” one another is critical to our value on teams, even when we’re collaborating remotely.
So, here’s the chain of logic that should help us sleep at night: the most important decisions in our enterprises will be made by teams because those decisions must reflect multiple constituencies and perspectives. In today’s light-speed environment, team members will have to collaborate remotely and securely; and the key to their effectiveness will be one of our most ancient abilities – social sensitivity.
Yes, technology will eliminate some jobs, as it has always done, just as it will always create new jobs we can’t even imagine. Amid the uncertainty, it’s comforting to know that collaboration will remain crucial to our organizations, and that it will depend on a skill for which we are hard-wired.
Did you miss Geoff’s August webinar? No problem! See how humans are hardwired for the skills of the technology age below: