Here’s a short list of things you’ll never hear an effective manager say:
- I don’t really care about my team’s wellbeing. My people are here to work, not feel good about themselves.
- I'd rather respond to crises than prevent them from happening.
- I want people to keep their opinions to themselves.
- I don’t care about our team’s results, so long as you’re happy.
The reality is that good managers can strike a balance between delivering results and fostering an environment that allows people to thrive.
And truthfully, the two are often closely linked; engaged employees tend to be higher performers, whereas disengaged employees are a contagion that can drag down the performance and morale of everyone around them.
Every interaction a manager has with their team is an opportunity.
And the most effective ones know it.
From having a conversation about career growth and outlining strategies to explaining company direction or how to deal with a difficult customer, lending a focused and empathetic ear is a critical part of helping people become the best versions of their professional selves.
In essence, it’s about treating people like individual human beings - people with unique goals, challenges, and frustrations.
But here’s the rub: It is often incredibly difficult for busy managers to deeply understand their teams.
Pace of work, geographic distance, reticence on the part of employees to be vulnerable - these are all factors that might keep a well-intentioned manager from helping team members address challenges that negatively impact their experience.
This is where AI can step in, and it’s why we’re building the types of tools that help managers know and understand their people better than ever before so they can deliver the type of environment that will allow them to thrive.
Let’s look at some of the ways we’re using AI to help managers become even more effective leaders.
Deeply understanding their team
AI-powered technology, when trained with the right data, can transform how managers approach team engagement, development and performance.
For instance, interpreting the results of a quarterly pulse or annual experience assessment can be difficult: dozens of questions — split by multiple demographics — each with a relationship to a benchmark. How can we reasonably expect a manager to A) interpret a ream of data, and B) know exactly what to do about it?
The simple answer is that we can’t.
That’s why we’ve incorporated AI into manager results so that managers can understand with certainty what their people are saying and what will have the greatest impact on the employee experience.
We recently announced that generative AI will be part of our Employee Experience (EX) solution. This innovation will help managers better understand their engagement scores. For example, organizations are increasingly measuring employee well-being — yet many managers struggle to interpret their team’s engagement score. What does it really mean and what actions should be taken to improve well-being?
With AI infused into Manager Assist (which is included in the People Engage product), managers will have their own personal coach to help them dive deeper and understand their dashboard results in more detail. Using natural language, each manager can ask their AI coach: “is this a good well-being score?” or “why is my well-being score so low?”.
Managers get an immediate response from their AI coach that is uniquely detailed to them because it takes into account each manager's individual engagement score and what is known about his or her team.
With a clearer understanding on what is driving well-being and recommended actions to take, managers can have more confidence that their decisions will result in a positive team outcome.
Predicting team burnout
According to our research, 58% of workers have said that their job is to blame for their mental health challenges.
That’s a stunning number. It’s not health, family, nor money, but how people choose to earn their living that’s causing the most problems.
Imagine for a moment if you are asked every day if you had a good day or a bad day.
What’s happening on the days that you consider good?
Maybe you had a great meeting with a key stakeholder. Maybe you had four uninterrupted hours where you could dive into a thorny problem. Or maybe you even managed to clear your inbox for the first time in two years!
Now what’s happening on the days that you consider bad?
Maybe you experienced conflict. Maybe an effort went unrecognized. Or maybe your computer froze for the third time this week.
Whatever the case, AI can monitor the relationships between what employees do and how they feel. It then delivers personalized details to managers about why team members are struggling and recommendations on actions to take.
For example, consider an employee who is struggling with a heavy workload. Perhaps their team has been working on a major project and a manager sees that the time spent working after hours has spiked and they’re feeling the pressure to respond to weekend requests. With these insights, that manager can take concerted actions to better manage workloads and re-establish boundaries around what is, and isn’t, expected from employees after hours.
So instead of guessing what their teams need, managers who have access to the right information, coaching and technology can make an immeasurable impact on their employees and the business at large. In turn, these effective, motivated managers can help reduce employee attrition and boost the bottom line.
For better or worse, people have more channels than ever in which they can voice their elation or frustration with occurrences at work. Think about the last major process or system change that impacted a large number of employees. Were they silent, or did they find ways to express their opinions? And if they did, where did they express them?
More than likely, people used internal and external forums (Slack, Teams, Reddit) to voice their opinions. Through our text analytics capabilities, powered by sophisticated AI and machine learning, Qualtrics empowers managers to understand, in real time and across a variety of platforms, the topics that are most pressing, and the emotions that people are experiencing.
They don’t need to wait weeks or months to learn about how a return to office plan or a new system deployment affects their people. They can know today, so they can adapt their communications and support to help people adapt and overcome barriers to their productivity and happiness at work.
Making business more human
It sounds almost anachronistic — that AI can help managers grow human connections with their employees. But the reality is that AI-powered capabilities in employee experience management give managers unprecedented tools to understand, act on and improve every aspect of the employee experience.
At Qualtrics, we’ve been working hard over the past several years to refine our own AI on the XM Platform. And today, AI is no longer limited to a particular set of tools or features, but is a foundational technology of the XM Platform. That means it can now be leveraged across every one of our product suites, and can be used by every single manager, supporting each in their mission to close the unique experience gaps faced by their team members.
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