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What do CEOs need to do about employee concerns about generative AI?

This content was originally featured in the September 13, 2023 newsletter found here:

What do CEOs need to do about employee concerns about generative AI?

You’ve ready plenty of articles about what C-Suite needs to know. and you’ve heard the concerns from employees about generative AI. But have the two conversations converged?

CEOs, and other C-Suite positions are buzzing about the possibilities of generative AI. Employees are losing sleep wondering how they will stay skilled up on AI and keep their jobs.

There is a disconnect from what the C-Suite is doing and how they are communicating (or not) with the the rest of the company.

What do CEOs need to do about employee concerns?

Transparent Communication:

This is the first order of business. Too often, leadership teams have closed doors and closed lips about what’s going on. Employees pick up on that, despite how well leadership thinks they are playing it cool. Be open about AI intentions, implementations, and implications for the company. Be up front. If you don’t know what it means for the company yet, say so. That will go a long way to building trust rather than waiting until you figure it out.

Education and Training:

If you, the leader of your organization, decide that generative AI is the direction, you need to help your employees get up to speed. Offer training sessions to help employees understand AI and how they’ll use it. Empower them to work with, rather than against, these systems. Bring in outside trainers and experts [] to help your employees with their professional development. Have a clear idea of what you want them to do with generative AI so that you can focus the training sessions.

Reassure Job Security:

As the new, or old, saying goes – AI won’t replace jobs. People who know how to use AI will replace the roles of those who don’t. This goes back to the first point, transparency. When you’re introducing high profile tech, like AI, you need more frequent and consistent reassurance. AI is getting more sophisticated by the day and the fear over job security continues to heighten. Without knowing what’s going to happen, employees with start to leave. You need to stay ahead of the turnover by having conversations with your employees.

Seek Feedback:

One of the biggest mistakes leadership teams are guilty of is making decisions without consulting the people who need to do the work. Create a space where employees can weigh in on how they could and should use generative AI. This will help shape the roadmap but also give people a sense of ownership. Make sure you’re really hearing the feedback and not just paying lip service.

Ethical Implementation:

I have been encouraging leaders to start with their mission, vision, and values. Introducing tech, such as generative AI, needs to align with those initiatives. Additionally, AI is not perfect. In fact, it’s riddled with bias and other potentially non-ethical errors. Why? Because it’s a tech created by humans, and generative AI is a reflection of those humans. Make sure you do your homework to ensure that the AI you out in place adheres to ethical standards. If you’re not sure what that looks like for your organization, that’s where you should start before choosing a tool.

As the CEO, CMO, Director, or other decision maker, you’re setting the tone for your employees. Stay open, listen to your teams, and communicate early and often.

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