Sometimes it’s better to be a machine

Feb 18, 2022

When things get bad at work, when there is no communication, when there is no let up in the pressure, you often hear the comment “we are just being treated like machines”. In fact you are not. Sadly, you are being treated like humans because machines would not put up this sort of treatment. The reality is that we treat machinery with more respect that we treat humans, although the human brain and body are far more complex than any machine. We monitor machines, we perform regular maintenance, and we know that as business grows, we must buy more machines to keep up with the work. We do not shout at them or give them unatainable “stretch objectives”. People are not machines but there are many companies where the employees would be far better off if they were treated with the same care and attention we lavish on machinery.

One of the six activities of thoughtful leaders should be to monitor the mental and physical health of those they lead.  This means paying attention to people, it means asking questions, spending time to understand people at a human rather than a work level. It means building trust and openness between colleagues. It means regular maintenance, by which I mean investment in training and coaching people to be the best they can. Finally, it means monitoring workload and making sure that as work increases so does matching resource. Doing this will build a resilient workforce, a workforce that feels committed and part of a team that will deliver both short- and long-term success in an uncertain world.

Sometimes being treated as a machine can work out very well.