Robot for a Boss? Most Workers Wouldn’t Mind.

Would you rather take orders from a robot or a flesh-and-blood manager?

According to a new study from Oracle and Future Workplace, a clear majority of Americans (64 percent) would trust a robot more than a human manager, and 32 percent think that a machine will eventually replace their boss. Let’s all welcome our robot overlords!

However, the results weren’t uniform across all ages: Only 23 percent of Baby Boomers thought that the rise of the machines would eventually replace their manager, while 39 percent of Generation Z respondents assumed that the robot revolution is coming for those in charge.

But what can robots actually do better than living, breathing managers? Here’s the full list:

  • Provide unbiased information
  • Maintain work schedules
  • Problem-solve
  • Manage a budget
  • Answer confidential questions
  • Evaluate team performance

However, respondents didn’t think machines were better than human managers at “understanding feelings” and professional coaching. That’s not surprising; although artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning have made great strides over the past few years, they are still a long way (if ever) from replicating human empathy. A robot asking you about your day or your dreams just doesn’t offer the same sense of connection.

But trusting a machine to impartially manage a calendar or spending… that’s something that humans can seemingly get behind. And for those who aspire to the management track, it just goes to show that being able to shuffle around paper (or its digital equivalent) simply isn’t enough: you have to utilize “soft skills” such as communication and problem-solving to effectively guide a team. Displaying a little bit of caring and sympathy never hurts, either.

And based on Dice’s data, it’s clear that many technologists aspire to roles in management. In response to a survey we conducted in April, some 29 percent said they were ready for that management job “now,” while 21 percent said they were already a manager, and 18 percent were “on the fence” over whether they wanted to pursue that track. If you’re one of those who wants to become a leader, make sure you polish up those soft skills—lest you end up replaced at some point by a robot or (more likely) a piece of semi-autonomous software.

One Response to “Robot for a Boss? Most Workers Wouldn’t Mind.”

  1. wageSlave

    Good managers manage people and Peter Principle managers manage what they are capable of managing: budgets and attendance. Machines lack the soft skills to be good managers. Hell, 80% of the human managers don’t have the skills. Most are Peter Principle managers managing budgets and attendance. A machine could generate significant cost savings through automation of the processes of maintaining budgets and attendance. The problem is what to do with the rising stars of technology. In a capitalist society, you show respect and appreciation with money. The wages for technical positions are like small penises. They are inadequate for getting the job done. The question becomes without bigger positions in management to move them, where will Peter managers go to get the ego boosts and fancy car extensions they so richly deserve? Maybe, manager automation is not such a good idea after all?