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Harnessing the Power of AI to Cultivate Better Managers

Harnessing the Power of AI to Cultivate Better Managers

Communication is a vital, yet often overlooked aspect of a high-performing organization. The crux of every productive relationship in a workplace, whether remote or in-person, is communication. However, new research from Perceptyx suggests that there's a worrying gap in perceptions between managers and the employees they lead.

There is a breakdown when it comes to responsiveness

Our research found that 50% of managers believe they are the ones who most often initiate communication with their direct reports. In contrast, only 21% of employees echo this sentiment, with over a third expressing a desire to communicate with their direct manager more frequently. 4 in 10 employees ranked this as one of the top three important management behaviors, while only three in ten managers agreed. 

In addition, even the best managers seem less aware of their own responsiveness than they are of other management behaviors: more than 4 in 10 say they are excellent at it. Fewer than 3 in 10 employees, on the other hand, would agree. The data indicates a correlation between a manager's responsiveness and employees’ overall opinions of them, showing that employees under responsive managers were 5x more likely to rate them as the best they've ever had. Conversely, those under managers deemed unresponsive were 25x more likely to deem them the worst.

AI-Powered Coaching Can Bridge the Gap 

This divide in perceptions signals a major, organization-impacting problem: poor communication skills among managers. It also highlights the pressing need for managers to improve these skills, with the demand for help surprisingly high. Indeed, three-quarters of managers we surveyed indicated they would welcome a human coach, while over two-thirds were open to AI-powered coaching to help them improve their skills.

Here’s where Cultivate Intelligent Coaching comes in. Cultivate is an AI-based coach that uses data from an employee's chats, emails, and calendars to help them become better leaders. This approach allows us to passively understand information about digital relationships by analyzing metadata. This metadata can provide details like the number of one-on-one meetings, after-hour messaging volume, and communication frequency.

However, metadata offers only part of the picture. The essence of relationships is defined by the substance of conversation, not merely frequency. Here, Cultivate goes beyond simple counts and frequencies. It analyzes the content of these messages for more nuanced metrics, such as requesting feedback, giving recognition, or asking for opinions.

Let’s take a closer look at how Cultivate Intelligent Coaching works in the field.

Cultivate in Action

In partnership with a software company that provides fleet management solutions for over-the-road truck drivers, Perceptyx People at Work experts took a deep dive into manager behavior to understand which behaviors were most associated with successful outcomes. Each of these 80 managers, with more than 500 unique relationships, enrolled themselves into Cultivate Intelligent Coaching. These managers opted to have their digital communications — email and instant messaging — with their team members analyzed over a period of five months and received coaching on the behaviors that were most important to them. Cultivate Intelligent Coaching uses natural language processing (NLP) models to analyze communication for tone, responsiveness, completeness of response, and other related factors.

Managers and employees don’t always agree on how responsive or communicative managers are, so experts measured it and connected this with ratings of manager performance. In this company, higher-performing managers initiate 86% more conversations with their direct reports than do lower-performing managers. They also have a 42% higher response density (a measure of the completeness of the response) than those with lower performance.

Managers participating in Cultivate Intelligent Coaching receive weekly comparison data on the measured behaviors and personalized coaching, in their flow of work. These include things to read, such as articles from the Harvard Business Review, and suggestions to try. In the study above, after five months of using Cultivate Intelligent Coaching, managers initiated 26% more conversations after 5 months of using the program. 

At another organization — a multinational software corporation based in Europe — managers increased both their response time and their response density by 26% over baseline, bridging the gap between manager and employee perception. There, instead of just recommending specific articles for learning and growth, the organization’s project team linked the suggestions of the AI mentor to a prominent online learning platform's resources, offering a richer range of content and tools. Leaders were given the flexibility to select their learning mode about their behaviors: either by quickly going through an article or delving into deeper learning through the online platform.

Consequently, the software corporation’s project team anticipates a boost in the organization's leadership trust index (a principal measure of outcomes) and employee engagement, because leaders can collaborate more effectively with their teams. The uptake of the AI mentor — voluntary for any leader in several international regions — has been significant. For the team, the implementation of the AI mentor aids in illuminating the new leadership behaviors and encourages managers to "work and lead in alignment with the organization's values."

The Right Support, Scaled to Meet Your Needs

Nearly all managers (90%) believe they have received adequate training for their management role. However, at least 2 in 3 would still appreciate more ongoing coaching support. AI-based coaching provides each person with insights to manage projects, teams, relationships, and people more effectively. AI coaching brings significant benefits to both the organization and the employee.

Organizations benefit from easy setup, high participation rates, and user satisfaction. They also see positive behavior changes, increased employee engagement, and retention, fostering a culture change. For employees and managers, benefits include in-the-flow development, improved digital communication and collaboration, increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and trust in the company.

Partner with Perceptyx to Cultivate World-Class Leaders

Partnering with Perceptyx can help you cultivate great leaders within your organization. We can help align skills with goals, guide managers with AI-powered coaching, and leverage data seamlessly. Our technology can augment human coaching with scalable, continuous, and cost-effective coaching for every manager.

To learn more, schedule a meeting with a member of our team. To read more about the state of management behaviors in 2023, download our research report.

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