Champion or saboteur?

Posted on 17 Dec 2013 by Callum Bentley

Gary Wyles, managing director, Festo Training & Consulting identifies the different personality types which will affect the success of an automation project.

Automation increases efficiency and helps make better products for less. Automation can also allow employees to redeployed into higher value-add roles and people are essential to the successful implementation of automated systems – yet few manufacturers consider them when planning or executing an automation project.

They key to taking the human element in automation into account effectively is to understand the character groups that technology projects draw out. Festo Training and Consulting has identified key personality traits and developed the 3 Dimensions of Employee Engagement to help businesses manage their aotmaton programme better. The three dimensions are:

  • Alignment
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Drive (Proactive or Reactive)

These scales enable employees to be identified as Engaged, Not Engaged or Disengaged to varying degrees:

Fully Engaged – Champions & Ambassadors

Champions and Ambassadors will be fully engaged in any automation project. They will add drive and will be proactive.

Champions are aligned to the organisation and love their job. They will endorse the project and work hard to bring people round to their point of view. It’s very useful to have someone from the shop floor as a Champion, as they will be more trusted than senior management.

Ambassadors are positive and aligned, but will be less proactive – they will not overtly seek to change people’s opinions.

Not Engaged – Prisoners & Passengers

While aligned organisational objectives, the Prisoner lacks satisfaction with their job. However, they can be moved to engagement by working alongside Champions or Ambassadors.

A Passenger is really just along for a ride. They will be unsatisfied with their career and although they might understand the rationale for automation, they will not proactively engage with the process.

Not Engaged – Challengers & Sceptics

Challengers are satisfied with their job but will question the validity of any change. Lower in the alignment scale, they can be negative about automation. However, all is not lost. Challengers will seek facts and figures and if an automation project makes sense to them, their opinions can be changed.

Sceptics are not aligned to the organisation. They will have a lower sense of personal satisfaction in their role and will show little drive, often overtly opposing the strategy. Other team players will find them difficult to work with.

Actively Disengaged – Saboteurs & Thieves

Saboteurs are unsatisfied with their job and responsibilities. They are not a lost cause as they are often highly motivated and clear explanation of the rationale for automation can convert them into Challengers.

Thieves are the most disengaged and dissatisfied group. They will be completely out of alignment with the organisation. The term ‘thief’ implies their covert nature, stealing time and satisfaction from others as well as, potentially, physical items. Hopefully an automation project will not have a Thief. If there is one, the best advice is to eject them as soon as possible.

Identification of the personalities involved in an automation project is usually only done when problems arise.

This is too late.

Employees need to be considered at the start of an automation project. Early involvement will ensure a successful implementation meaning that the organisation reaps the benefits of increased production and productivity – with the additional bonus of increased engagement of its people.