Using AI-powered leadership to drive productivity and engagement

As we come upon the one-year anniversary of the impact of COVID-19 and how it forced organizations to move to a remote workforce, many are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) technology to improve productivity and engagement for employees who feel adrift in this new world.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many C-Suite and Human Resource (HR) executives believed that the move to remote work would improve productivity, but unfortunately, that is not the case. 

Remote employees still struggle with this new model, fielding dozens of daily distractions from checking on children to cooking dinner and caring for pets – a slew of non-company activities that are consuming company time.

This comes at a time when the global workforce needs to be more productive than ever as the rush to digital transformation becomes all-consuming. Organizations are reworking business models that better serve housebound consumers and a digitized B2B business environment.

Deep work

As part of this effort, workers must immerse themselves in the “deep work” that drives real business value like raising profits, reducing costs and improving customer experience.

But companies still need to give their workers the tools and technologies they need to adapt to remote work. A new study from Salary.com reveals that 89% of workers admit to wasting time during work hours with 61% squandering at least 30 to 60 minutes each day – and 64% of those blame it in on the Internet, which remains a major distraction.

Yet, there is a silver lining.  The responsible use of AI has emerged as a key strategy to help remote workers stay focused on the most important work at hand by eliminating tedious tasks and providing guidance that leads them to focus on the activities that matter most to their organizations. 

As it turns out, AI is a friend, not a foe, when it comes to enabling remote workers to reach their full career potential.

AI-powered leadership

Forward-thinking Fortune 2000 companies are adopting “AI-powered leadership” to help senior managers provide the guidance and insight to keep teams focused.

  AI uses accurate data to produce powerful business insights – often better than humans can. In doing so, it provides the ability to observe and process the large volumes of data, emerging as a secret weapon for beleaguered team leaders. 

AI gives team leaders a comprehensive view of the business, so they don’t make decisions with very limited and often biased input. While we cannot hand off leadership to a machine, AI can provide a better starting point to lead from – and usher in the bold concept of machines learning, humans leading.

AI helps these team leaders lead like an athletic coach – 100% performance oriented and able to observe productivity in an unbiased and impartial manner.  In previous eras, we had supervisors on the floor, observing works and offering tips for improvement. 

In today’s white-collar world, this is not possible. But with AI working in the background, we can continually observe workers and then make prioritized, personalized recommendations for managers to execute on. 

Using AI, organizations can accurately identify the quality impact and discover if other employees are more or less productive as a result of an employee’s work.

It can also determine specific actions and in what order employees should work. For example, AI can empower sales teams by determining when to reach out, follow-up and nudge a prospect.

Magic powers

Using AI’s magic powers, organizations can harness accurate data and analyze it to yield insights that lead to the best possible decision-making capabilities. By leveraging this data, AI algorithms make predictions, just like a human would do to create leadership hypotheses and ask the right questions, uncovering the right answer to the important “What will happen if…” questions and possible scenarios.

AI also lets organizations use the data in real time when it is the most valuable, working in the background to provide recommendations about what is needed to achieve business goals.

It also helps time-pressed organizations calculate the optimal time for like-for-like work, which can we as high as 263%. This is especially important as team leaders are now managing twice the number of employees as they have in the past.  As a result, they are more focused on macro KPIs instead of identifying which employees need help with their work.

AI also helps senior leaders grow and nurture their most valuable talent and help their teams succeed. In the age of remote work, leadership development often gets shunned to wayside.

Still, over $50B is spent per year in leadership development.  Unfortunately, that investment is not working as only 7% of CEOs believe their companies are building effective leaders.

That is why C-Suite and HR leaders are turning to AI-powered leadership.  New AI technologies place the decisions that leaders need to make to help their people improve right in the notifications of their phones. 

Better decision-making

This development is empowering leaders to make better decisions that will improve employee performance and yield productivity growth while driving better business outcomes. 

This comes at a critical time when we remain on the precipice of a global recession.  Right now, organizations report that they pay employees for eight hours per day of work but believe they are only getting three or four hours of productive work from their workforce. 

With the help of responsible AI-powered leadership, organizations can help their people advance their careers and derive greater job satisfaction, leading to greater retention.  This alone will alleviate stress for HR teams looking for ways to keep their workforces engaged during this uncertain time. 

But perhaps more importantly, it will enable organizations quickly to embrace digital transformation and new business models that will help them better navigate the changed world and chaotic business environment we inhabit today and in the future.

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