How Will AI Help Good Managers Be Great?

Deidre Paknad  ::  Strategy & Execution

'Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us.' --Ginni Rometty

Artificial intelligence (AI) is more than just a buzzword. From driverless trucks traversing the country to AI winning “unwinnable” games, it’s already making an impact on our home lives and will soon play a much greater role in our work lives. The potential applications of artificial intelligence excite forward-thinking managers, who see the opportunities AI will provide to advance careers and business results faster. Artificial intelligence in business is a breakthrough that can enable good managers to be great.

The applications of artificial intelligence in business are many, from improving relationships with employees and customers to finding patterns in extreme data volume to performing repetitive tasks. These should be a great benefit to most managers as it means they should have more time to focus on how they add value to their organization. The key is to embrace the opportunity artificial intelligence in business presents for individual and organization success, including scaling your skills and using AI to scale your impact.

Enabling Data-Driven Management

Compared to humans, AI is able to crunch numbers, identify patterns, and make faster data-driven decisions. With the ability to process large amounts of data and spit out trend directions and actionable advice, this application of artificial intelligence can be a vital tool for any manager looking for some quantitative support in their decision-making. In fact, computers can be so good that in financial services, 40% of predicted layoffs in the industry will be in money management, as robo-advisors replace human fund managers.

That might sound like bad news but not for those who spot the silver lining. Now is the time to scale your skills to take full advantage of richer, faster data — especially if the bulk of your time today goes to gathering, triaging, compiling and reporting data to identify risks, issues and status. If you spent zero time on these basic information tasks, how much faster could you drive results, where would you allocate time and what skills will you need? By learning how to work with AI and using the advice it can provide, you can adapt and improve your career options and value to the organization.

Setting Better OKRs, Getting Better Results

Setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a forward-facing activity designed to create radical clarity and alignment on measurable near term results. Great goal setting software that harnesses AI helps teams set and achieve better target results. By learning from prior target results and the nuanced relationships between objectives, management behaviors and engagement patterns, AI provides teams in-the-moment insights to set OKRs that optimize their impact in the quarter. Conversation bots like WoBot guide teams to OKR and result achievement proactively.

Picking up Administrative Slack

A large part of any manager’s day-to-day activity is administrative work — the necessary but routine and repetitive work that doesn’t stretch your skill set. For example, a Harvard Business Review survey of project managers found that 54% of their time was taken up with administration. While that figure may be more or less for others along the managerial spectrum, it’s not work that invigorates managers and it’s perfect for AI.

Applying artificial intelligence to routine management work gives managers more capacity to focus on high value activities. For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning can alert managers when to meet to address risks or roadblocks; it can even set up the meeting and include the right people when issues arise, prepare the right agenda and follow through on actions are excellent AI applications. In another example, The Associated Press used AI-powered robots to supercharge their output of quarterly earnings reports from 300 to 4,400.

Raising Your Boss Game

AI can help managers improve team dynamics by giving more timely feedback to team members and improving team accountability. With the use of natural language processing and chatbots, AI can identify who needs positive feedback end of week and let the manager know or even provide the feedback; it can also highlight who needs more coaching and prepare a fact-filled one-on-one meeting agenda for the manager and employee. The benefits of better coaching are many and 72% of employees say their performance would improve if they got more feedback, but many managers lack the time, habit or data to consistently provide timely fact-based feedback.

Ultimately, artificial intelligence in business boosts our intelligence as managers and leaders. Think of it as your chief of staff, anticipating what you need to know, where your next best business move is and what your employees need from you. If you harness AI and make it indispensable to you, you’ll be more indispensable to your organization!



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