Will Managers and Leaders be Replaced with AI?

 AIAs technology becomes more sophisticated, some activities previously completed by employees can be handled by computer programs.  HR professionals have already found that AI can perform candidate searches and determine best matches for jobs.  Using technology can help make candidate reviews more manageable.    AI can even monitor email to determine if employees are engaged at work and notify leaders of those who may be ready to leave the company.  Some companies already offer some AI-related assistance to track candidates or monitor workers. Some examples include SAP, Entelo, Veriato, and Bluvision. It is possible to receive alerts if employees have poor performance or if they are not where they should be at work.

Why continue to have employees when computers can do all the work?  AI can have its biases.  It may make decisions based on past information.  It has no gut instinct.  There is no way to determine if AI is more effective than the human choice yet because it has been unchartered territory.  However, AI has offered some insight into things managers and leaders may not have time to track.  That is not to say there are no issues.  Privacy is something that jumps to the front of the line as companies track people’s online footprint.  Some argue that AI reports may lead to incorrect assumptions by leaders.  While leaders want to determine the best way to predict success in their employees, the current software options available may not have the level of sophistication required.  There may be important pieces of the puzzle left out in the process.  How can a machine grasp the human emotional aspect of performance?  Instead of using AI as a replacement for employees, it may be more of a tool to use in addition to personal insight, gut instinct, and common sense based on experience.

If blue and white color jobs are already at stake, will leaders soon be replaced by AI?  Sydney Finkelstein from Dartmouth argued that middle management is already virtually extinct. Frey and Osborne’s (2013) study “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerization” predicted that 47% of workers will be replaced by machines.  Accenture (2015) found leaders lack some basic human skills including social networking, people development and coaching, and collaboration.  The Accenture results indicated that “84% of managers believe AI will make their work more effective and interesting. Manpower performed a survey of 18,000 employers in 43 different countries, which found 82% expect to maintain or increase staff levels because of automation.”

Perhaps it is not a question of if leaders and managers will be impacted, but more a question of how much and when.  Disruption continues, and all levels of management cannot escape some impact.  Leaders and managers will need to keep pace with advances, communicate to keep the human component indispensable, be creative, and design organizations that utilize human and AI talent to take advantage of both.

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