The Human Element in Automation: Communication

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I recently read an article in Forbes titled, “The Human Side of Accounting Automation” by Nicholas Pasquarosa. In this article, Pasquarosa discusses the importance of the human elements involved with leveraging automation to improve your firm; securing implementation tactics, properly keeping data updated and organized, change management and more. It’s a great article, and I would encourage you to check it out. It highlighted something to me that I believe is just not talked about enough in this industry.

It’s that we don’t give enough credit to one of the most ‘human’ elements of all – communication.

Sure, other creatures communicate. But human beings communicate like no other species on Earth. Humans’ communication is compositional and referential. Meaning the human language allows speakers to not only have an endless ability to create sentences and tell stories, but it allows us to communicate specific information and help each other figure problems out. Not only can our language communicate specific information, but the words we use can even influence how that information is being absorbed and understood by the listener.

Automation allows us to work at higher speeds, more accurately and in higher quantities. But to truly take advantage of automation, you have to have a plan on how you’re going to be using these tools to grow your business. Then you have to communicate your plan to your team and execute it. Here are some tips on how to effectively communicate process changes to your team:

Be clear and consistent in your message. Start with explaining the problem and explaining how this solution/tool/automation will dissolve the problem.

Use collective language. Things like: This is OUR problem, this is how WE are fixing it, this is how WE can improve our situation, this is OUR responsibility. These subtle pronoun changes can help your team feel supported and more likely to take on the change as a team mission, versus a conflicted change.

Allow your team to ask questions and give feedback. Creating an environment where your team feels comfortable enough to come to you with questions and concerns is important. They may have thought of something you had not considered yet.

Use positive reinforcement and celebrate milestones. Implementing software or changing processes can be stressful, so it’s important to celebrate the milestones when they come up. This will help your team feel accomplished in what they’ve done and feel positive about where they are headed.

Remember, you set the tone for your firm. You are capable of setting your team up for success or failure. So when implementing new tools or practices, don’t forget about your most effective tool: your communication.