Managers today are using a growing number of tools marked by the use of artificial intelligence to help manage their teams. This trend is just one of the many transforming the working world.
According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, the average manager currently spends more than half of his or her time on administrative, coordination or control tasks. These lost hours could have been spent ensuring the well-being and progress of employees, stimulating team collaboration and motivation, or implementing an innovation strategy. But thanks to recent advances in artificial intelligence, that’s starting to change. A wave of new tools gives managers the ability to outsource the most daunting and routine parts of their workloads, allowing them to focus on employee relationships and team management.
AI the author…
A good part of managers’ coordination work consists of sending emails, an activity that has become particularly time-consuming. Since writing emails takes time, it is important to ensure that the communication works and that sent emails are read and have the desired effect on employees. In this field, artificial intelligence can also be a valuable tool. In fact, in recent years computers’ ability to understand and reproduce human language has improved dramatically. This has given rise to young companies like Textio, a Seattle-based start-up offering an “enhanced writing” service: before sending an email, the text can be submitted to the software, which then suggests small improvements in terms of sentence structure or vocabulary to maximize its impact. It is then up to the sender to take these remarks into account.
For its part, The CrystalKnows app gives tailor-made recommendations for writing emails based on the personality of the interlocutor, public information collected online and prior exchanges. For those who would like to take automation a step further, Gmail has been offering a feature for the last few months that suggests complete sentences depending on the context. Even though the AI only works for very simple exchanges, it allows users to save a little time on each email. But while we wait for more advanced virtual assistants to write entire emails for us, the possibilities of automatic text generation go way beyond e-mail. Quill, a tool developed by the startup Narrative Science, aims to make report writing less painful and time-consuming for managers. It automatically generates explanatory text for tables, graphs and other computer graphics synthesizing data. Presenting to your teams the evolution of your activities in the last quarter is now child’s play.
Managers with superpowers
Other tools rely on artificial intelligence to allow managers to see the invisible: extracting useful data from the environment. For example, telephone calls and video conferences now account for a significant proportion of workers’ time, but AI tools could help managers ensure that these kinds of remote conversations are as effective and productive as possible.
Through its VoiceAI service, Dialpad uses artificial intelligence to record and transcribe each discussion, eliminating the need to take notes. Better still: the software analyzes exchanges in real time and triggers actions based on them. For example, if the date and time of the next appointment are mentioned, the software automatically writes a note capturing this information and presents it to both parties at the end of the call. The icing on the cake: the software analyzes the other person’s feelings, looking for negative or positive signals, which helps managers better evaluate feedback on the conversation.
All these technologies are part of the underlying trends that are now at work in the business world, because they are used in remote communication (e-mails, calls or videoconferences). Teleworking is becoming increasingly popular, with an ever-increasing number of workers that are “self-employed” (it is estimated that these freelance workers will constitute 50% of the American working population within ten years). They juggle from one project to another, and often work from home or from a collaborative workspace. Having optimized tools for remote communication is therefore essential for managers today.
From Apple watches to connected bracelets, wearables are also becoming more and more popular, with many promising leads for management. While measuring the impact of organizational changes on productivity has not always been easy, things are changing with the arrival of wearables. For example, Humanyze designs connected badges that collect data on employee travel within the company. The data is anonymized and communicated to managers in the form of global travel flows, for privacy reasons. This data makes it possible, for example, to analyze how office organization (flex office or assigned desks, joint desks or separate ones, team installations.) has an impact on productivity and the frequency of exchanges between employees.
Facilitate personnel management
Artificial intelligence can also help managers take better care of their employees. The software developed by Workday uses data collection and analysis to predict when an employee is likely to leave a company. Based on a database of 100,000 individuals and over a 25-year period, the software uses criteria such as salary, time between promotions, vacation-time and other compensation provided by the company to make its predictions.
Based on the data, AI can determine when a combination of variables may cause the individual to resign or seek other employment. This may be because the employee has not had a raise for a long time or has not received any promotion despite his or her performance, and so on. The manager can then look at his or her particular case and take action if he or she feels it is necessary to do so. The software also provides them with recommendations, based on what other managers have done in the past successfully (giving a salary increase or bonus, promoting the employee, etc.). The human always remains in control, the software simply provides managers information that can provide that gives a fuller vision of what’s happening at the company.
Other solutions allow managers to supervise their employees working remotely almost as easily as if they were in the next office. Asana offers an online platform that allows you to manage the evolution of a project by following different tasks step by step. It is also possible to assign collective missions, which everyone can then modify from their workstation, set deadlines or easily share events on a calendar. Veriato offers an application that provides statistics on employee productivity, including the amount of time each employee spends on productive activities. An artificial intelligence then analyzes the latter and compares them to the company’s standards. It can then send an alert to managers if it identifies productivity that is particularly below average, or signs of attempted hacking. This will facilitate the adoption of telework even for the most reticent of managers.
What about you? What tools are you using to get superpowers?