Few change management professionals using AI for work

How can AI be used in change management?

Few change management professionals using AI for work

With the continued rise of artificial intelligence (AI) adoption among employers, companies should be focusing more on change management – and using AI to that end, says one expert.

“This is an exciting time for the change management discipline because this is going to continue to evolve at a rapid pace, which means change management should be more and more relevant as we look into the future for several years,” says Scott McAllister, CEO at Prosci, a change managements solutions provider, in talking with Canadian HR Reporter.

Currently, more than half (53 per cent) of change management professionals say they like to be the first to try new technology, according to a recent Prosci report based on a survey of 218 change management practitioners from 33 industries in nine global regions. 

Meanwhile, 34 per cent say they like to try new technology, but prefer following others.

However – with the surge in the use of AI in different industries – more than half (52 per cent) of respondents say they are not currently using AI tools and technologies in their change management practice.

And very few are regularly using the technology for their work.

Source: Prosci

This is the case even though four in 10 executives predict that AI will deliver gains of more than 30 per cent in productivity, according to a previous Mercer report.

“We know from the research that we've done that 65 per cent of change practitioners feel like they're going to be more successful if they're leveraging AI than if they're not,” says McAllister. “We also know 61 per cent of change practitioners believe that their projects will be more successful if they leverage AI than if they don't. And we've got data that suggests something like three quarters of organizations are going to be more successful by adopting AI than those who don't.” 

How can AI be used in change management?

To leverage the power of AI for change management, employers should have a change of mindset, he says.

“For the longest time, as professionals, we almost focused exclusively on getting the technical solution. And we thought, if the solution is strong enough, people will just naturally adopt and use it. And through a lot of lived experience, we understood that that's not how things happen in the real world.”

Few leaders are adopting AI for work, according to a recent SAS survey of 1,600 decision-makers for generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) strategy or data analytics globally, including 100 respondents in Canada.

To encourage adoption, employers should turn to the ADKAR formula, says McAllister. ADKAR stands for awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement.

“It means we need to start with an awareness of why AI adoption is necessary,” he says.

Then, employers must inspire workers to have that desire to participate in AI adoption by highlighting the benefits of AI for their work, says McAllister. 

“And then we've got to get them into the knowledge and ability. Just because this tool or a suite of tools has so much capability doesn't mean that we as individuals know how to leverage it in the best way possible.”

Lastly, organizations need to reinforce the adoption by highlighting the benefit of leveraging this technology for the individual and for the enterprise, he says.

Half of Canadian employers think workers are not prepared to use AI, according to a previous report.

Best practices for AI adoption in change management

For employers to successfully integrate AI in their company amid the changing dynamics of work, they must bring workers along in the process, says McAllister.

“We need to treat adoption of AI as a change just like we would the adoption of an ERP system or the integration of an acquisition,” he says. 

“There's a lot of things we've learned that we know works around human beings adopting new ideas. We don't have the luxury of not bringing human beings on this change journey. And so we need to leverage a lot of the fundamentals that we've picked up across the last two plus decades to be more effective with this.”

When integrating AI technology and tools to increase efficiency, it is critical for employers to acknowledge the emotional component that comes with navigating AI adoption, according to one expert. Merely focusing on rational explanations regarding how AI will increase efficiency and productivity isn’t enough to alleviate employee fears that their jobs may be replaced by technology, Cecelia Herbert, principal behavioural psychologist at Qualtrics, said at Qualtrics’ X4 Summit in Salt Lake City earlier this year.

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