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Robotic Performance

It's tempting at times to wish for a work force made up entirely of robots.

Think of it: If your people were robots, you could turn them on or off at will with a flick of a switch.

They would perform at the same rate of speed and the same level of quality for as long as required.

If they broke down, you could call in a repair person to correct the problem. No need to provide health insurance; no need to find an HMO.

You wouldn't have to worry about hurting their feelings or offending their egos. Robots have no feelings or egos.

You wouldn't have to worry about overworking them.

You wouldn't have to spend a lot of time getting to know them, listening to their concerns or worrying about their personal problems.

But the temptation passes once you consider the downside of robotic performance.

Robots can't be dedicated to a mission. Dedication comes from the heart, and robots are heartless devices.

Robots can't give us feedback and tell us what works and what doesn't. If what they're doing doesn't work, the only thing they can do is to keep doing it until somebody throws the switch and stops them.

Robots can't take the initiative. They do what they're programmed to do. If there's a better way, they can't recognize it, and even if they recognized it they'd be unable to follow it until some human took the initiative to reprogram them.

Robots can't exchange ideas among themselves. In fact, robots don't have ideas to exchange. To have an idea, you must be conscious, and nobody has found a way to implant consciousness in a mechanical brain.

Some companies may be unknowingly treating their employees like robots. If you train them to perform repetitive tasks instead of educating them to think and act innovatively, you're treating them like robots.

If you focus all your effort on managing production with little thought to managing people, you're treating your employees like robots.

Dealing with production problems without dealing with the human element is like dealing with a flat tire without dealing with air. The finest steel-belted radial in the world is useless without air to inflate it. The finest physical plant in the world is worthless without the people who keep it operating.

Keep your equipment up to date and well maintained. But more important, keep your people educated and happy.

copyright Nido R Qubein

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