During lunch today (at a café), I overheard two gentlemen talking. It was the very large A3 page that got my attention, as I tuned in (effectively eavesdropping, oops) to their conversation.
It was a familiar conversation that I have conducted and participated in many times before; the head count conversation. Do we have too many? What is our ratio of staff to revenue and where are we compared to this time last year? How many people are you carrying over the budget? What is necessary? Who needs to go?
Brutal, but that is business.
The large A3 page was an organisational chart with names in boxes. The tone of the meeting initially sounded like a reduce head count conversation, but then it was obvious their decision making was going to be based on performance.
Whether this conversation was right or wrong is not the debate I wish to get into. The debate I wish to get into is; will humans be needed as leaders in the future for the service sector industry? The reality is that leaders who are not able to be human at work will potentially fall into an ‘underperforming’ category.
We are being told that the service sector – particularly accommodation, retail and food service are first to be fully automated in the near future. (10 to 20 years away).
How long do you think your role will still be needed in business 10 years from now?
How much of what you do daily, is practicing the unique human skills that robots cannot execute?
We are an endangered species in the service sector if we are not skilled up, and proficient, in the soft skills that perhaps have been undervalued until now. In 2020 the top 10 skills that the World Economic Forum predict will be in high demand are:

  1. Complex Problem Solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People Management
  5. Coordinating with Others
  6. Emotional Intelligence
  7. Judgment and Decision Making
  8. Service Orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive Flexibility

Do not despair; you are not the only one at risk.
I recently read that even authors are at risk of loosing their jobs to machines that can be taught to write. These machines will be taught to read data, pattern match images or video, analyze any kind of research materials and who knows, maybe will be attending creative writing classes.
Leaders in the service sector are dealing with high volume customer traffic and transient staff. The challenge for leaders in the service sector is motivating staff to form strong rapport and relationships with customers.
In a service sector environment, the leaders who really shine and get the results effortlessly, are committed and practicing daily skills such as emotional intelligence, attunement, empathy and asking brilliantly crafted questions.
Don’t be a head count, be more human!
Jaquie Scammell
‘Why serve when you can inspire’