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Emotional Intelligence vs. Artificial Intelligence

By Verity Creedy

Verity Bissett-PowellThe British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news team recently reported on advances in robot technology and how such developments are providing great process and productivity improvements, especially within industries such as manufacturing and auto. According to research from Boston Consulting Group, by 2025 up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by either smart software or robots. At the end of the news item, they invited viewers to complete a questionnaire to uncover how safe their jobs were from “robot takeover.” I found myself eagerly filling in the online form, slightly nervous about my potentially impending joblessness. Before hitting the submit button, I paused. Surely HR is one of the roles that would definitely be required during these AI implementations? Here is my rationale:

Emotional Intelligence vs. Artificial IntelligenceRobotisation is going to demand a lot of change from businesses, not just structurally but emotionally. HR has the most experience in this field, either directly engaging the heads and hearts of others, or championing business leaders to do so. Logically people will understand the rationale for these technology changes, but emotionally they will need support and should feel listened to throughout the integration. HR and Talent teams will be required to plan communications, review accountabilities, and support the debate of which roles are robot-enhanced. When it comes to monitoring the progress of AI installation, HR will help identify and evaluate the metrics so the delicate balance of human vs. technology is mastered.

In the Shenzhen Everwin Precision Technology factory in China, they aim to reduce the current workforce by 90 percent according to their chairman of the board. Such difficult redundancy conversations will absolutely demand empathy and sensitivity, respecting employees who may have dedicated many years of service to the organisation. This leads to the broader topic of EQ, which is a skill not yet code-able. HR will be required to evaluate and react to human responses of course, but will perhaps also review the effectiveness of the way in which robots are communicating. For example, could the adjustment of certain automated phrases or responses result in improved engagement for those working with these machines?

Talent trumps strategy. According to DDI’s latest Global Leadership Forecast, HR personnel are already making the move towards being better business advisors regarding talent. The report describes the need for HR anticipators who “are able to proactively advise leaders on the probability of their strategies succeeding based on available talent and its quality.” The lens on management will be sharper than ever. Robots do not have independent thought, and so the strength of an organisation will be dependent on having entrepreneurial, business-savvy managers. This demands scrutiny of and adaptation to existing role profiles for recruiting the crucial right manager into the right role. This is therefore also a requirement of development on key behaviours: innovation and decision making. Lastly, management’s bedfellows of HR will need to offer them a different sort of guidance than previously, as their ability to achieve through others will look very different with the combination of “workers.”

So, with these thoughts in mind, I hit the button and awaited my fate. Phew, the BBC agrees. It seems that I will live to work another day.

Verity Creedy is UK sales leader with DDI in the United Kingdom.

Posted: 06 Oct, 2015,
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