Will a Robot Be Your Manager By 2025?
Intelligence is no longer exclusively to humans; the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is transforming the business landscape and the workplace. Machines are present in healthcare, security, manufacturing, neuro-technology, education, and marketing, to cite just some examples. They can now recognize a human face, drive a car, assist students, and even hack your brain!
The bottom line is that the human role is changing and AI’s impact on the workplace could be tremendous. It is already changing how people interact at work, while at the same time assisting business leaders to make better-informed decisions. For example, talent acquisition is one of the processes where AI has been providing support in ranking and sorting candidates during pre-screening, summarizing candidates’ strengths and needs relative to the roles and reducing unconscious bias in the selection process.
Furthermore, chatbots are already interacting with candidates, interviewing and scheduling pre-interviews via email, text message and social media, with a clear objective: build a world-class recruiting service. In marketing, the situation is very similar, organizations are contemplating how AI will help to create smarter campaigns and use augmented reality to improve the customer experience.
Can you imagine coming to an office where a machine and/or robot is the one who defines performance objectives, responsibilities while providing accurate feedback? Believe it or not, this is where this digital transformation is taking us. According to McKinsey & Company, “half of all existing work activities could be automated by currently existing technologies, saving some $16 trillion in wages.”
The idea is not far from reality. If you think about some general managers responsibilities, such as planning and coordination, decision making, management and team follow-ups, it is very feasible that technology might be capable of providing support in these core management fields.
Recent research by Gallup has revealed that, in one study of 7,272 U.S. adults, 50% of employees left their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.” In addition, this study reflects “that managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores. Given the troubling state of employee engagement, it makes sense that most managers are not creating environments in which employees feel motivated or even comfortable.”
Since employee engagement is decreasing due to managers’ lack of ability to lead, engage, and empower teams. AI can simulate certain aspects of human behavior to increase team engagement and collaboration while boosting productivity.
Also, according to Deloitte, there is another factor to consider: the “augmented workforce”, defined as people working on a temporary, contract, consultant or freelance capacity. This situation triggers broader challenges for managers who are leading a complex, diverse and disrupted workforce, where now five generations (including Generation Z) are working on-site and/or in remote locations, and managers need to have the ability to manage freelance workers and keep them engaged.
Due to these circumstances, AI is reshaping how we organize our work relations, providing the possibility that a machine can lead people with clear directions and decision making, avoiding arguments and without unfair performance reviews and promotions decisions.
The idea of robot managers in the workplace would eliminate intuitive decisions and unconscious biases while assessing talent in a more rational and analytical way. For example, in succession planning, an AI will review different data from performance reviews and learning, development, and engagement scores to pick the right candidates to create a solid talent pipeline, making the process efficient with clear insights into the organizational talent bench.
However, there is another aspect to consider: humans need humans in the workplace. Our nature is to interact with people and feel emotions. So, considering managing people involves almost half of the manager’s time, leading and caring about teams requires high levels of emotional intelligence to make better decisions, set goals, and manage communication, stress and team conflict. Hence, there is an emotional aspect that needs to be present in order to understand why employees do not meet their performance objectives, why they do not feel engaged or why personal life issues that are affecting an employee’s performance. This is an aspect that a machine would have problems addressing since it has a limited understanding of how human nature works and its impact on organizational results and team performance.
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AI is here to stay and is already transforming the workplace and the workforce. The current challenges relate to how we manage the balance between AI and humans, so they complement each other, making organizations more able to deliver value to clients and customers.
I would like to finish with two questions: is your organization ready to function in the age of AI? Are you ready to work with a robot manager?
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Albert Loyola is Managing Partner with Ignite Organizations, a talent and organization consulting firm. He serves as a trusted advisor to leadership teams on future workforce strategy, HR technology capabilities and integrated talent and HR solutions, he enables clients to address their future workforce needs and lead change in the face of digital transformation.
Albert is a People Technology Advisor & Speaker on the Future of Work, Employee Experience, Design Thinking and Artificial Intelligence in HR. His work has been featured on different business and HR tech magazines. Albert holds a Master Degree from Cornell University, in Human Resources
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