Leaders Say They and Their People Lack AI Readiness, New Research Shows

With AI tech evolving so quickly, how do you hire people who can keep up-to-date?

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Jul 13, 2023

Whether you’re excited or terrified by generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Bing, and Bard, they are coming. A recent Goldman Sachs report estimates that massive changes from AI could “expose the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs to automation.”

As scary as that sounds, what makes it worse is that most workforces are not sufficiently prepared for it. A new study from Leadership IQ, “AI Readiness and the Road Ahead,” revealed that leaders believe only 10% of their employees are excited by AI, with another 35% cautiously optimistic. However, 17% of leaders view their employees as indifferent, while they think the remaining 38% are reluctant, resistant, or in denial.

Even leaders themselves aren’t much better prepared for the coming waves of AI. When leaders rated their own skills with artificial intelligence, a significant 31% reported having no experience with AI tools, 32% considered themselves to be at a beginner level, and another 10% as struggling novices. In other words, around 73% of leaders have minimal to no experience with AI tools.

In an ideal world, you could simply require that all new hires have a wealth of AI skills. But the technology is so new, and advancing so quickly, that there aren’t oodles of AI experts waiting around to be hired. Instead, companies need to look for new hires who have demonstrated the capacity to proactively learn and grow.

On a tactical level, that means incorporating growth-focused interview questions into your hiring and screening process. In your interviews, try asking candidates a question like, “Could you tell me about a time you experienced professional growth?”

In candidates’ answers, you’ll want to look for evidence that they not only love to grow but also that they took it upon themselves to find ways to learn and grow. Here’s a real-life answer to the aforementioned question where you’ll see the candidate did not take control of their own professional growth:

I guess I grew a little bit at my last job, but none of it really contributed to my overall career goals. I requested specific training multiple times, but I was always denied, even though other people were granted the opportunity to attend training sessions to better their jobs and skill set. I still have no idea why I was held back as I am quite a high performer. My boss never offered me an explanation and it was really frustrating. I was excited to see in your job ad that you offer opportunities for professional growth.

You can see that the candidate describes a situation where multiple requests for training were denied (when others were approved) and appears to have taken the boss’ silence on the matter as the final word. Someone with more proactivity would have responded with positive change. Emotions like frustration leading to inaction or goal abandonment can be a sign of someone who easily quits or who gives up before they even get started.

With the rate of change in AI technologies and companies’ general lack of readiness, it’s unlikely that the typical company has off-the-shelf courses ready for all employees. The AI-driven disruption that is about to occur will require employees to have high levels of proactivity.

To survive the coming AI wave, companies need learners, growers, and change adapters; those who are still frustrated that their last company didn’t provide enough training won’t do as well amidst AI-induced turmoil. If we’re going to figure out which category our candidates fit into, we need to give them a chance to reveal their frustrations. We can’t tell them that we only want to hear about times they grew; if they didn’t grow because there wasn’t training on a silver platter, we need to discover that during the interview process.

The kind of technological upheaval that’s coming our way doesn’t happen often. But when it does, it’s usually fast, abrupt, and rewards the most proactive and adaptable people. And those are traits you need to find in your candidates.

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