Are you at risk of being replaced?


We hear a lot of noise about how human workers are at risk of being replaced by automation and technology. And while there is some truth to this, research is also showing that the jobs with the highest incidence of replacement by automation or technology are also the ones that require the least social skills or emotional intelligence. In addition the most consistent job growth has been in areas where a high level of social skill and emotional intelligence is required.  Why? Because automation and technology can do many things quickly and more accurately, yet computers still can’t mimic effective social interaction. Computers are not able to be flexible and agile in problem solving, respond to customer service needs, express empathy, resolve conflict, or negotiate.   Some of the most valuable skills for working on teams or in leadership are the very skills and characteristics that computers and technology do not bring to the work environment – charisma, trust, empowerment, flexibility, improvisation, agility, negotiation, ability to read emotion, empathy and making nuanced adjustments based on interpersonal dynamics.




Employees who learn to recognize and balance their own triggers are also able to practice empathy and understand the impact of positivity. These employees are uniquely valuable in the workforce because they bring what technology can’t provide. Team members who are committed to proactive communication, asking clarifying questions, self-leadership, responsibility and accountability will be rewarded and retained. In my experience, positions held by staff who love drama, spend the non-renewable resource of time unwisely, adopt victim status and continually place blame are frequently in the positions that leadership looks at first when seeking cost saving solutions like automation or use of technology.

Again, we ask why? Most leaders I work with were never taught the skills for frank discussions, clear feedback and how to hold people accountable while empowering them to make change. Frequently I see highly skilled managers and supervisors try every work-around possible to avoid having a forthright discussion with an employee who has not developed their social and emotional skills.

One more time, why? Many leaders, managers and supervisors don’t know how to engage in what they perceive will be an uncomfortable discussion so they keep extending the boundary, patching the problem like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, until it is unavoidable. And by then things have degenerated to the point where termination is probable. Frequently the rest of the team has been polluted by the drama and lack of accountability. So again, a work-around has to be created to either automate, eliminate, or implement technology.

BUT, had the same employee been supported to develop social skills and increase their self-awareness, self-leadership and emotional intelligence, they would be seen as an asset to the organization and either promoted or their value in the current position would be so high it would be unthinkable to make changes.

Is this true in every case? Of course not. We all hear of ATM’s replacing bank tellers, or self-checkout at the grocery store replacing clerks. No. Sometimes the bottom line does win out. But frequently the person who has developed their self-awareness, self-leadership and social emotional capital is retained regardless.

So, where are you in terms of investing in your own social emotional growth and development?

Curious? Here are some simple ways to begin:

  1. Increase self-awareness. Find people who will be honest with you and point out your blind spots. Engage with a coach. Recognize that you are a work in progress and view your shortcomings and challenges as opportunities for growth!
  2. Hold space. Become the listener. Allow space for others to share their views and ideas. Don’t spend your valuable listening time thinking about how you will respond. Instead connect with the other person with an open heart and mind. Be present.
  3. Give and receive. Learn to give and receive feedback effectively as a tool for building trust, performance development and empowerment.
  4. Manage your emotions instead of having them manage you. Understand what triggers you and learn how to stop the impulse to lash out or shrink.
  5. Be in gratitude. Express appreciation frequently and noticing even the smallest things often. When we feel gratitude our brain releases  the “feel good” chemical – dopamine.

Interested in increasing your capital in the workplace? Want to delve into any of the areas above? I can help. Click here to set up a complimentary discovery session.