Improving Artificial Intelligence When Coaching Employees

When coaching employees, even artificial intelligence could benefit from a boost of individualized attention.

A recent New York Times article described a new technology firm, Humu, that is applying the power of artificial intelligence (or A.I.) to help increase employee happiness at work. The company, started by former Google employees, analyzes data from workplace surveys to discover and prioritize workplace changes that would make the largest positive impact on the most employees.

Giving Nudges.

Fueled by A.I., Humu’s trademarked “nudge engine” contacts employees by e-mails and texts, and encourages them to undertake actions, even small ones, that help raise the overall happiness level for the workplace.

According to the article, Humu uses “machine learning…[to]…tailor the timing, content and techniques of the messages it delivers based on how employees respond.” Employees at all levels could be targeted; the article included these examples:

“At a company where workers feel that the way decisions are made is opaque, Humu might nudge a manager before a meeting to ask the members of her team for input and to be prepared to change her mind. Humu might ask a different employee to come up with questions involving her team that she would like to have answered.”

The article also raises the question if coaching employees with this “nudge approach” will be considered helpful or too controlling. That answer will likely vary by specific company and individual employee. The risk of a “Big Brother” mentality certainly exists with any such technology.

Harnessing Personalized Intelligence.

At LWF, we believe the type of tailored, personalized information made possible by our DRiV&trade personality assessment tool could help this new A.I. innovation be even more beneficial when coaching employees.

Based on more than 50 years of research, the DRiV is a new look at personality, motives, and values. It was designed to measure what “drives and drains” human behavior – including what drives and drains people at work. The personalized intelligence provided by the DRiV can help with coaching employees by better predicting optimal leadership styles, determining effective team composition, and implementing more engaging work practices.

For example, a manager aware of each of her team members’ unique DRiV profile and drivers could use an A.I. tool like Humu to help nudge herself to engage in management behaviors targeted at optimizing these drivers. This is especially true if she as the manager tracked her own behavior and if employees tracked their own engagement levels, such as with a daily one-question survey.

Looking Ahead.

Over time, this complementary system of personalized intelligence and A.I. could start learning which management behaviors would be most likely to increase employee engagement and happiness. Coaching an employee high in creativity might best involve sitting down with him to riff on ideas. If you recently did that, maybe next try sending him an article that will spark his creative imagination. Or maybe another employee highly values collaboration and her engagement has been waning. As a manager, look for an opportunity to pair her with another employee.

The possibilities and potential are exciting for the workplace of tomorrow – and beyond. We’ll be watching where the future goes with A.I. and coaching employees, and look forward to positively impacting this evolution.