Skip to main content

Preparing Your People for GenAI: What We’ve Learned So Far

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st century, one of the most significant technological advancements has been the rise of GenAI. While this revolutionary technology has brought about significant avenues for progress, it also comes with uncertainty and real fears.  

Many are worried about security risks, ethical concerns, loss of control and jobs, privacy issues, and much more. But others are enthusiastically diving in and exploring what GenAI can do and how they can leverage its advanced predictive analytics capabilities, increased efficiencies, and hyper-personalization.   

At Daggerwing Group, our clients have been coming to us to help them shape their point of view on Generative AI and determine how to best engage employees in their initial rollout efforts. We’ve learned that employees want to know how Generative AI will impact their company’s strategic objectives and what it means for their day-to-day.

In these cases, storytelling and showing employees what they can do now, and how their peers are starting to test the technology at work, has the most impact. This has been instrumental in:

  • Mitigating fears
  • Building momentum
  • Capturing learnings through testing and use cases at a grassroots level

With all this, it’s important to recognize that the impact of Generative AI will be rapid and far-reaching. The era of GenAI will usher in fundamental changes to the business world, including changes to business strategy, operations, work culture, job types, and processes in ways we can’t fully comprehend yet. While this is a revolutionary change that we haven’t seen before, that may feel overwhelming, businesses have gone through rapid, transformational changes before – and have come out better and stronger.  

And during times of transformational change, as a leader, you know how important it is to focus on the impact the change will have on your employees – or the people side of change as we like to say. It’s no different with GenAI.  

So how should you approach this rapidly evolving, nebulous, and uncertain technology? And how can you lead your people through this change despite the ambiguity and fear surrounding GenAI?  

The bottom line is this: you can’t ignore it or wait to see what happens. As a leader, you must act, or you run the risk of your organization being left behind. But what does action look like when every organization is so different?  

Here are five core principles of change and transformation that any organization can apply to help them define their GenAI journey:   

1. Chart a vision and strategy that works for you. The approach to GenAI is going to look different to every organization depending on size, industry, level of technological maturity, and on what they are set up and equipped to handle. So, the strategy should make sense for what your company is prepared for, and how quickly a strategy needs to exist.  

To start, assess the potential impact of GenAI on your business, customers, employees, and other key stakeholders, and start asking how GenAI can supercharge your business strategy and operations. Then, a baseline GenAI strategy, that can be evolved over time, must be set. When building this, consider where there are opportunities to begin exploring GenAI for the business now, and where opportunities will present themselves in the future. 

2. Prepare your people now. Even while focusing on the technological aspects, it’s important to remember that the GenAI revolution is ultimately about people. Companies don’t embrace AI; their people do. That’s why it’s crucial to prepare leaders and employees for upcoming changes. 

To do this, start by sharing what the leadership team is thinking about GenAI for the organization – and be clear about the vision and strategy – while acknowledging that this is going to evolve over time. People don’t need to hear a perfect answer or solution, but they want to know that this is something leaders are thinking about, and that they are taking action.  

During this stage, it’s important to also address people’s anxieties (which usually come from the unknown) and what this means for them. Try using probability framing to acknowledge what is going to change, what might change, and what will not change. And don’t be afraid to say, “we’re testing and going to need your help to figure this out as we go.” This will help to set expectations of what is needed from employees (e.g. how they will need to think and act differently to support the change). These expectations will continue to evolve as your strategy changes, but it gives a baseline of expectations to begin the journey. 

3. Empower ground-up innovation: One of the best ways for people to learn is through direct experience. If your organization wants to be out in front vs. playing catch up, create opportunities for employees to test and learn about GenAI tools in a controlled environment. This helps to cultivate the right mindsets and behaviors as an organization that will set the foundation for your GenAI-powered success.   

Having employees test how GenAI can be used in their day-to-day, and creating a mechanism for them to share their feedback, will lead to greater and faster innovation. As a general-purpose tool, GenAI has countless potential use cases, many of which have not been discovered yet, so employees can help you to discover and bring to life what’s possible.  

But it’s also important to provide education on GenAI tools, how to use them, and when not to use them, to build in comfort and confidence. This way, employees feel set up for success, part of the journey from the start, and will be much more willing to jump in. On top of that, education and tools also signal the importance of this priority and shows your commitment to GenAI and its potential.  

4. Adapt, rinse and repeat.   

We are in an era of constant change. One and done isn’t going to work. So, how are you meant to keep up with something that is moving so fast? With the rapid advancement of AI, it’s key to continuously monitor, revisit, and refine your organization’s AI vision, strategy, and policies for the foreseeable future. This level of agility might seem like a tall order, but the rapid pace of advancements leaves no room for rigidity.  

One way to start is by establishing an enablement team that is empowered to drive GenAI by keeping it top of mind for the organization, helping to break down internal barriers, driving collaboration, and purposely integrating it into strategic conversations. If there aren’t individuals who clearly own and champion this part of the strategy, it will end up falling down the list of priorities – making an enablement team a must. 

But it’s not enough to just establish an enablement team, you must also listen and learn about what’s working through ground up innovation internally, external research, and partnerships with technology experts where possible. Most organizations are early in this journey and can only learn from each other at this point – education and outside-in learning are key to success. 

5. Talk about it, and again, and again. 

GenAI is evolving with us and seemingly faster than us. People will continue feeling concerned and will want to know how you’re thinking about, so it cannot be a one-time conversation. Consistently share updates on progress and how you’re evolving the GenAI strategy and share how it’s helping the business achieve strategic goals and priorities. This will help to connect the dots for employees on why it’s important for your organization.  

Some people might still be convinced that this is a trend, so it’s important to show them why you’re investing resources in this technology and how it will advance your business. Try telling stories about what’s working well to inspire people on the ways they can use the prompts and technology. But remember to re-iterate risks and policies around how you expect your people to use GenAI tools, so they understand how to safely test and use. 

The rise of Generative AI is a reality we can’t ignore, a technological revolution that will continue to become increasingly important. As with any change, it brings both opportunities and risks. Now is the time to act – to explore, understand, define, and implement your GenAI strategy whatever shape or form it may take. If you are ready to do so, this could be the change that takes your organization to new heights.  

Edson is a Principal at Daggerwing Group. He has worked with a variety of Fortune 500 companies and global organizations to deliver business results by changing customer and employee behavior. Edson helps companies redefine business strategies and redesign their organizations to address business challenges by looking through the eyes of the stakeholders that matter most – customers and employee – and develops and implements practical plans to drive change. Edson loves to stay active by biking, playing soccer, and cutting it loose on the dance floor.