Introduction

Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the rage. We are seeing stories written about it daily. The companies that are getting the most Angel and Venture Capital (VC) investment are AI companies. Tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney have exploded in popularity. So what is AI and how can it be used by managers?

Artificial Intelligence
noun: artificial intelligence; noun: AI
the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

dictionary.com

As you can see from this definition, the field of AI is broad. In this blog post, I will focus on two AI chatbots: Bard (from Google); and ChatGPT 3.5 (from OpenAI). Both of these are free to use!

ChatGPT is a large language model–based chatbot developed by OpenAI, which enables users to refine and steer a conversation towards a desired length, format, style, level of detail, and language used. Successive prompts and replies, known as prompt engineering, are considered at each conversation stage as a context.

wikipedia.org

Bard is a conversational generative artificial intelligence chatbot developed by Google.

wikipedia.org

This post will focus on two “use cases” to demonstrate how AI chatbots can be used today to help with some of the biggest challenges facing managers today.

Challenges Facing Managers

Below are some of the challenges that managers are facing.

  • Hiring Decisions
  • Peer Conflicts
  • Motivating Employees
  • Time Management
  • Encouraging Productivity
  • Performance Problems
  • Staffing Gaps
  • Pressure to Perform / Deliver
  • Lack of Structure / Process
  • Inadequate Support
  • Weak Company Culture / Identity
  • Poor Teamwork
  • Difficult Employees
  • Retaining High Performers

AI can be helpful in helping managers with each of these. Three examples, or use cases, are provided below.

Use Cases

Here are two use cases to demonstrate how AI chatbots can be useful for managers. The three that I have chosen are intended to be sufficiently different such that you can see how AI chatbots can be applied more generically.

Each use case starts with a prompt. It is important that this prompt be well written in order to fully convey the situation so that the AI chatbot has the context to reply. Because these are chatbots, it is easy to have a dialog in order to refine the context and/or clarify the response received.

Peer Conflict

This use case is about a conflict between two people on a team, one on the manager’s team and one on another team.

Prompt

I am a manager. I need help dealing with a serious peer conflict between someone on my team and someone on a different team. They need to work together on an important project, but they continue to undermine each other during meetings and after the meeting is over. What do you suggest?

Bard Response

Here are some steps you can take to deal with a serious peer conflict between someone on your team and someone on a different team, who need to work together on an important project:

  1. Meet with each person individually. Start by having a private meeting with each person involved in the conflict. This will give you a chance to hear each person’s perspective and to understand the root of the problem. Be sure to listen actively and to avoid making assumptions.
  2. Identify the goals of the meeting. Before you bring the two people together, it’s important to identify the goals of the meeting. What do you want to achieve? Do you want them to apologize to each other? Do you want them to agree on a way to work together more effectively? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start to develop a plan for the meeting.
  3. Set ground rules. When you meet with the two people together, be sure to set some ground rules. For example, you might ask them to agree to listen to each other respectfully, to avoid interrupting each other, and to focus on the problem at hand.
  4. Encourage open communication. Once you have set some ground rules, encourage the two people to communicate openly with each other. Allow them to express their concerns and to share their perspectives. Be sure to listen carefully to both sides of the story.
  5. Help them to find a resolution. Once the two people have had a chance to communicate with each other, help them to find a resolution. This may involve brainstorming solutions, coming up with a compromise, or agreeing to disagree.
  6. Follow up. Once you have helped the two people to reach a resolution, it’s important to follow up with them to make sure that they are able to work together effectively. You may need to meet with them regularly to check in and to provide support.

If you are unable to resolve the conflict on your own, you may need to involve HR or another senior leader.

Here are some additional tips for dealing with peer conflict:

  • Stay calm and objective. It’s important to stay calm and objective when dealing with peer conflict. Avoid getting drawn into the emotional side of the conflict.
  • Be respectful. Even though you may disagree with one or both of the people involved in the conflict, it’s important to treat them with respect.
  • Be focused on the solution. The goal of dealing with peer conflict is to find a solution that works for everyone involved. Focus on finding a solution that will allow the two people to work together effectively.

It’s also important to remember that you can’t control how other people behave. You can only control your own behavior. So, focus on doing what you can to create a positive and productive work environment.

ChatGPT Response

Dealing with a serious peer conflict between team members is a crucial aspect of effective management. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to address and resolve this conflict:

  1. Private Meetings: Schedule separate private meetings with each of the individuals involved. This allows them to express their concerns without fear of immediate judgment. During these meetings, adopt active listening techniques to understand their perspective fully.
  2. Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations for their behavior and collaboration. Emphasize the importance of the project and how their cooperation is vital to its success.
  3. Identify the Root Causes: Ask open-ended questions to dig deep and identify the underlying causes of the conflict. Is it a clash of personalities, differences in work styles, competition for recognition, or something else entirely? Understanding the root causes can help you address the issue more effectively.
  4. Mediation: If appropriate, consider bringing in a neutral third party, such as an HR representative or a professional mediator, to facilitate a conversation between the two individuals. This can help them express their grievances and work together to find common ground.
  5. Conflict Resolution Training: In some cases, providing conflict resolution training or team-building workshops can be beneficial. This can help team members develop better communication and interpersonal skills.
  6. Set Up a Joint Meeting: After the private meetings and any necessary mediation or training, bring both individuals together for a joint meeting. During this meeting:
    • Clearly state the purpose of the meeting, which is to address the conflict and find a resolution.
    • Encourage each person to share their perspective on the issue. Ensure they use “I” statements to express their feelings and concerns without blaming the other person.
    • Facilitate open and respectful communication. Set ground rules for the meeting to ensure everyone listens without interruption and maintains a respectful tone.
    • Help them identify common goals and shared interests related to the project.
    • Brainstorm potential solutions to the conflict and encourage compromise.
  7. Develop an Action Plan: Based on the joint meeting, work with both individuals to create an action plan for improving their collaboration. This plan should include specific steps, timelines, and responsibilities.
  8. Regular Follow-up: Continue to monitor their progress and conduct regular follow-up meetings to ensure that the conflict resolution plan is being implemented effectively. Provide support and guidance as needed.
  9. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all meetings, discussions, and actions taken regarding the conflict. This documentation can be crucial in case further intervention or escalation is necessary.
  10. Escalation if Necessary: If despite your efforts, the conflict persists and negatively impacts the project and the team’s performance, be prepared to escalate the issue to higher management or HR for further intervention.

Remember that resolving conflicts may take time, and patience is key. Your role as a manager is to facilitate a positive working environment and ensure that both individuals can collaborate effectively for the benefit of the project and the organization as a whole.

Motivating Employees

This use case is about motivating employees who have returned to the office to work three days a week and are not happy about it. The original prompt was not sufficient. Two additional pieces of information were provided in order to get the desired result.

Prompt

What is the best way to motivate employees?

Bard Response

The best way to motivate employees is to create a positive and supportive work environment where they feel valued and respected. This means providing them with the resources and training they need to be successful, giving them opportunities for growth and development, and recognizing their achievements.

Here are some specific tips for motivating employees:

  • Set clear and achievable goals. Employees need to know what is expected of them in order to stay motivated. Make sure that goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Provide regular feedback. Employees need to know how they are doing in order to improve. Provide them with both positive and constructive feedback on a regular basis.
  • Recognize and reward achievements. When employees do a good job, make sure to let them know. This can be done through verbal praise, written notes, or awards and recognition programs.
  • Give employees autonomy. Employees are more likely to be motivated if they have some control over their work. Give them the freedom to make decisions and be creative.
  • Create a positive work environment. Employees want to work in a place where they feel respected and valued. Create a positive work environment by fostering teamwork, collaboration, and communication.

Here are some additional tips that can help motivate employees:

  • Offer flexible work arrangements. Many employees value the flexibility to work remotely or have flexible hours. Offering these options can help to improve employee morale and motivation.
  • Provide opportunities for professional development. Employees want to feel like they are growing and developing in their careers. Offer them opportunities to learn new skills and take on new challenges.
  • Give employees a sense of purpose. Employees are more likely to be motivated if they feel like their work is making a difference. Help them to understand how their work contributes to the overall goals of the company.
  • Be a good role model. Employees are more likely to be motivated if they see their managers working hard and being passionate about their work. Be a good role model by setting a positive example.

It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to motivating employees. What works for one employee may not work for another. It is important to get to know your employees and understand their individual needs and motivations.

By following these tips, you can create a more motivated and productive workforce.

ChatGPT Response

Motivating employees effectively can be a complex task because people have different motivations and preferences. However, several strategies and approaches have proven to be effective in motivating employees:

  1. Recognition and Appreciation: Recognizing and appreciating employees’ efforts and achievements can go a long way in motivating them. This can be done through verbal praise, written commendations, or even rewards like Employee of the Month programs.
  2. Clear Communication: Keep employees informed about company goals, performance expectations, and how their work contributes to the bigger picture. When employees understand the importance of their role, they are more likely to be motivated.
  3. Opportunities for Growth: Provide opportunities for skill development and career advancement. Employees are often motivated when they see a clear path for personal and professional growth within the organization.
  4. Fair Compensation: Ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work. While money isn’t the only motivator, it is essential for meeting basic needs and providing a sense of security.
  5. Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work schedules or remote work options can be motivating for employees who value work-life balance and autonomy.
  6. Employee Involvement: Involve employees in decision-making processes and seek their input on matters that affect their work. This fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment.
  7. Challenging Work: Assign tasks and projects that challenge employees and allow them to use their skills and creativity. Boredom can lead to demotivation.
  8. Team Building: Encourage teamwork and a positive work culture. Employees often feel motivated when they have strong working relationships with their colleagues.
  9. Employee Benefits: Provide a comprehensive benefits package that includes health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks. These benefits can make employees feel valued and cared for.
  10. Regular Feedback: Offer constructive feedback and performance evaluations regularly. This helps employees understand where they can improve and provides recognition for their successes.
  11. Set Clear Goals: Establish clear and achievable goals for individuals and teams. This gives employees a sense of purpose and direction.
  12. Incentive Programs: Implement incentive programs such as bonuses, profit-sharing, or performance-based rewards to motivate employees to meet or exceed targets.
  13. Work-Life Balance: Encourage a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout. Provide support for personal time and encourage employees to take breaks.
  14. Employee Well-being: Promote employee well-being by offering wellness programs, mental health support, and resources to help employees manage stress.
  15. Lead by Example: Managers and leaders should lead by example, demonstrating the behaviors and work ethic they expect from their teams.
  16. Tailored Approaches: Recognize that different employees have different motivations. Some may value autonomy, while others may thrive on recognition or financial rewards. Tailor your approach to each individual where possible.

Remember that employee motivation is an ongoing process. What motivates one employee may not motivate another, so it’s important to maintain open lines of communication and be responsive to individual needs and preferences. Regularly seeking feedback and making adjustments to your approach can help create a motivated and engaged workforce.

Prompt 2

We have just returned to the office after most of my staff had been working remotely. They are not happy that they are required to be in the office three days each week. Given that this is the current situation, would you recommend anything different?

Bard Response

Yes, there are a few things you can do to motivate your employees who are unhappy about returning to the office:

  • Listen to their concerns. The first step is to understand why your employees are unhappy. Schedule one-on-one meetings with each employee to discuss their concerns and get their feedback. This will help you to identify any common themes and develop solutions that address their needs.
  • Be flexible. If possible, try to be flexible with your remote work policy. Consider allowing employees to work remotely one or two days per week, or even offering a hybrid work arrangement where employees can split their time between the office and home.
  • Make the office a fun place to be. Create a positive and supportive work environment where employees feel valued and respected. This could involve offering perks such as free snacks and drinks, organizing team-building activities, or simply making sure that the office is clean and comfortable.
  • Focus on the benefits of returning to the office. Remind employees of the benefits of working in person, such as the ability to collaborate more effectively with colleagues, build stronger relationships, and take advantage of office resources.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Emphasize the importance of collaboration. One of the biggest benefits of working in the office is the ability to collaborate with colleagues more easily. Remind your employees of the importance of collaboration and how it can help them to be more productive and successful.
  • Provide opportunities for social interaction. Employees want to feel connected to their colleagues. Create opportunities for social interaction, such as team lunches, happy hours, or even just coffee breaks.
  • Be flexible with work hours. If possible, allow employees to have some flexibility with their work hours. This could involve allowing them to start and end their day early or late, or to take breaks when they need them.
  • Offer support services. Some employees may be struggling to adjust to returning to the office. Consider offering support services, such as childcare assistance or employee assistance programs.

By following these tips, you can help your employees to adjust to returning to the office and make their work experience more enjoyable.

It is also important to note that it may take some time for your employees to fully adjust to returning to the office. Be patient and understanding, and continue to communicate with them regularly.

ChatGPT Response

Transitioning from remote work back to the office can be a challenging process, especially when employees have become accustomed to the flexibility of remote work. To address employee concerns and make the return to the office more successful, consider the following recommendations:

  1. Open Dialogue and Communication:
    • Start by holding open and transparent discussions with your employees. Understand their concerns and reasons for wanting to continue remote work. Listening to their perspectives is crucial.
  2. Flexibility and Hybrid Work:
    • Consider adopting a hybrid work model that allows employees to work both remotely and in the office. This can be a compromise that accommodates their preferences while ensuring some level of in-person collaboration.
  3. Clear Expectations:
    • Clearly communicate the reasons for the return to the office. Explain how it benefits both employees and the organization, such as fostering creativity, teamwork, and maintaining company culture.
  4. Safety and Well-being:
    • Prioritize the health and safety of employees. Ensure that you have COVID-19 safety measures in place, such as social distancing, mask mandates, and sanitization, to create a safe work environment.
  5. Workspace Improvements:
    • Consider making improvements to the office space to make it more appealing and comfortable for employees. This could include ergonomic furniture, breakout spaces, and amenities.
  6. Flexibility in Scheduling:
    • If possible, allow employees some flexibility in choosing which days they come to the office. This can help accommodate individual needs and responsibilities.
  7. Performance Measurement:
    • Focus on measuring employee performance by outcomes rather than hours worked in the office. Trust your employees to deliver results, whether they are in the office or remote.
  8. Employee Engagement:
    • Create opportunities for team-building and social interactions in the office to help employees reconnect and strengthen bonds with colleagues.
  9. Training and Support:
    • Provide training and resources to help employees adjust to the new work environment. This might include technology training or assistance with commuting logistics.
  10. Trial Period:
    • Consider implementing a trial period for the new office schedule. This allows employees to test the arrangement and provides an opportunity for feedback and adjustments.
  11. Stay Flexible:
    • Be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. The future of work is evolving, and flexibility will be key to retaining talent and maintaining productivity.

Remember that every organization and workforce is unique, so tailor your approach to the specific needs and preferences of your employees. A collaborative and empathetic approach to this transition will likely result in a more positive and successful return to the office.

Prompt 3

I was not asking about how to transition them back to the office. I was asking about how to best motivate them now that they have returned.

Bard Response

No need to provide Bard with the third prompt as it responded correctly and fully to the second.

ChatGPT Response

I apologize for the misunderstanding. Motivating employees who have returned to the office after a period of remote work involves creating a positive work environment and addressing their concerns. Here are some strategies to motivate employees in this context:

  1. Acknowledge Their Concerns: Start by acknowledging that the return to the office may be an adjustment for employees. Let them know that you understand their concerns and are committed to making the transition as smooth as possible.
  2. Flexibility: Even though they are back in the office, consider maintaining some degree of flexibility. This could include flexible work hours or the option to work remotely on occasion. Flexibility can be a significant motivator.
  3. Create a Pleasant Workspace: Ensure that the office environment is comfortable, well-equipped, and conducive to productivity. This includes ergonomic furniture, good lighting, and a pleasant atmosphere.
  4. Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate expectations and goals. When employees understand what is expected of them and how their work contributes to the organization’s success, they are more likely to stay motivated.
  5. Recognition and Appreciation: Continue to recognize and appreciate employees’ efforts and achievements. This can include verbal praise, awards, or other forms of recognition for their work.
  6. Professional Development: Offer opportunities for skill development and career growth. Employees are motivated when they see a path for advancement within the organization.
  7. Collaboration: Encourage collaboration and teamwork. When employees feel connected to their colleagues and see the value of in-person collaboration, it can boost motivation.
  8. Regular Feedback: Provide regular feedback on performance, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. Constructive feedback helps employees stay engaged and motivated.
  9. Employee Well-being: Continue to prioritize employee well-being, both physically and mentally. Offer wellness programs, support for work-life balance, and resources to manage stress.
  10. Empowerment: Give employees a sense of ownership and autonomy in their work. When they have control over their tasks and decisions, they are more likely to stay motivated.
  11. Challenging Projects: Assign challenging and meaningful projects that allow employees to use their skills and creativity. Boredom can lead to demotivation, so keep their work engaging.
  12. Social Interaction: Encourage social interaction in the office. Organize team-building activities, lunch gatherings, or other events that help employees bond and build relationships.
  13. Lead by Example: As a leader, lead by example by demonstrating the values, work ethic, and behaviors you expect from your team.
  14. Opportunities for Innovation: Encourage employees to contribute ideas and innovations. When they see that their input is valued and can make a difference, it can boost motivation.
  15. Incentives: Consider offering incentives such as performance bonuses or other rewards for achieving specific goals or targets.

Remember that motivation is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to adapt your approach to the evolving needs and preferences of your team. Regular communication and feedback are key to maintaining a motivated and engaged workforce.

Key Takeaways

Below are the key takeaways from the use cases.

  1. The responses from the AI chatbots are pretty good. They provide information that is clearly generated from articles that have been written on the topic.
  2. As a manager, the information that you get from an AI chatbot should be used as an aid. You need to apply your own style and experience to all situations and challenges.
  3. In the same vein, you should not depend on an AI chatbot as your only input in dealing with a managerial situation or challenge.
  4. When using an AI chatbot, write the best prompt that you can. If you don’t get what you are looking for, continue the conversation in order to clarify the situation and/or the response.
  5. There are differences in the responses between the two AI chatbots. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. I would recommend using both Bard and ChatGPT.
  6. I find that Bard responds faster than ChatGPT. I have also had a number of cases where ChatGPT did not complete a response. Most of these were long-form responses. When this happens I click regenerate. This causes ChatGPT to start over, and in most cases it completes.

Don’t be afraid, jump in and give it a try.

Two More Things

Google Search and AI

Google has built AI into its search page. When you do a search you have the option of getting AI results as well. I do not turn this on all of the time, but when I am doing research, I find it incredibly helpful. It provides a human-readable response to my search. It also provides links to articles that were used in generating the response.

When you use this capability, you can easily continue the dialog in a manner similar to that described above. This is a very natural way to combine search and AI. I recommend that you give this a try!

Google AI and YOUR Content

I don’t want to sound like a Google fanboy, but I can’t help myself in this case. Google has announced and has started making available a very cool new feature of Brd. You can connect Bard to your Gmail and to your Google Drive content.

What does this mean? It means you can use the AI chatbot interface to look for things in your email and documents. You can say things like – “When I last talked to Tim, what did he say about going fishing?”.

This is the kind of AI capability that will be useful to everyone!

See Also

Google Bard Extensions / Connect to Gmail and Google Drive
Categories: TeamsTools

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