Training and Development

Elevate Your Company Talent at Scale Through AI and Human Insight

Published on
July 10, 2024
Micah McAllister
Karen Benz
Director of Coaching
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Integrating AI into leadership development programs enhances the efforts of L&D professionals by allowing efficient, cost-effective scaling of professional development. It enables a focus on personalized learning and valuable feedback. However, human connection and collaboration is essential to truly prepare leaders. Combining AI's data-driven insights with human mentors/coaches' nuanced understanding ensures a comprehensive and effective approach to leadership development.

Jump to a section:

60% of Enterprises are Expected to Adopt AI by 2025
The Need For Scalable Talent Development
AI's Role: Talent Identification | Personalized Development Plans | Talent Acceleration & Automation
Benefits Of AI & Real-Life Coaches: Cost-Efficiency | Generation Z | Employee Retention | Internal Mobility
Pitfalls Of Relying Exclusively On AI For Your Talent Development
Human Executive Coaches vs AI-Driven Coaches: Ethical Issues
Diversifying Coaching Solutions Beyond AI Alone: Group Coaching | Flexible L&D Vendors

Picture this: A workplace where every member shares a common vision of leadership excellence and where language and behaviors align seamlessly with critical business needs. Scaling up leadership development isn't just a strategy; it's a game-changer. It not only cultivates fresh capabilities across the organization but also sends a clear message to every employee: you matter, and we're invested in your growth.

Gartner's recent projections offer an intriguing glimpse into the future: by 2025, approximately 60% of enterprise organizations are expected to adopt a responsible AI framework for their HR tech. This shift demands leaders roll up their sleeves, time and effort to craft innovative plans and strategies. At the same time, SHRM highlights ongoing economic uncertainties that strain HR budgets, potentially impacting benefit offerings and compensation structures, thereby exacerbating employee retention challenges.

Amidst this landscape, AI, particularly generative artificial intelligence, emerges as a catalyst for leadership development. It amplifies existing learning and development efforts, accelerating talent development at scale. However, it's crucial to recognize that AI alone isn't the panacea. Human connection and collaboration remains indispensable in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

 “Once in a while, technology comes along that is so powerful and so broadly applicable that it accelerates the normal march of economic progress. And like a lot of economists, I believe that generative AI belongs in that category.” renowned author Andrew McAfee, nails it: generative AI isn't just another tech fad; it's a game-changer in the realm of economic progress. While AI reduces human effort, it does not reduce human touch. It's the delicate dance between AI's data-driven insights and the wisdom of seasoned mentors that truly propels leadership development forward. It's this fusion that ensures we're not just preparing leaders for tomorrow but equipping them to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of work.

The need for scalable talent development

In today's dynamic landscape, scalability is key to preparing for future growth scenarios. Leaders are increasingly turning to scalable leadership development solutions to harness the collective potential of their teams, and for good reason. According to a 2023 survey by LinkedIn, 48% of companies are currently using AI to enhance their talent management processes.

In a competitive talent market, candidate and employee expectations are soaring. Your competitive edge is the experience you offer, from the initial job search to career progression. Providing equitable learning opportunities that seamlessly integrate with work, are cost-effective, and offer flexibility is crucial. Moreover, it's an opportunity to foster inclusivity and diversity within the workplace.

HR and L&D leaders face the challenge of balancing business demands with providing development strategies for all employees, not just a select few labeled as high potential. Scalability is vital, but it's equally important to drive meaningful change without cutting corners.

Scalability is vital, but it's equally important to drive meaningful change without cutting corners. It's essential not to overlook the human element in enhancing human capital.

Amidst the drive for automation, it's essential not to overlook the human element in enhancing human capital. While processes can be automated, aspects involving emotional intelligence remain irreplaceable. Namely, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

As Jeremy Campbell rightly emphasizes, strategic workforce decisions made today can significantly impact an organization's future success. In an evolving landscape, it's crucial to focus on scalable solutions prioritizing efficiency and human touch.

“Anything that involves emotional intelligence is unlikely to ever be replaced. But at the bottom end of the value pyramid – things that are about replicating a process – those will be automated.” - Jeremy Campbell, SD Worx The People Space, May 2017

AI's role in talent development

Generative-AI’s role in talent identification

AI possesses the capability to analyze vast amounts of data to identify potential leaders and high performers within an organization. By leveraging predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms, AI tools can sift through employee data, performance metrics, feedback, and other relevant factors to identify individuals demonstrating leadership potential and exceptional performance.

"Organizations using AI for talent development can scale their programs to reach up to 50% more employees compared to traditional methods, as reported by Gartner.

For example, predictive analytics can analyze historical data on employee performance, behavior, and career progression to predict future leadership success. Machine learning algorithms can identify patterns and correlations in data to highlight characteristics and behaviors associated with effective leadership.

Before achieving optimal leadership development scalability, it's essential to plan your leadership strategy intentionally. This starts with asking critical questions such as, "What are the business problems and opportunities that demand a leadership solution?" By understanding the current capabilities of your organization and uncovering leadership gaps, you can better tailor your development initiatives to address specific needs.

Scaling leadership development requires a significant commitment across the organization and a holistic view of learning. Designing a mix of learning modes tailored to different learning preferences and levels is crucial. This could include customized development programs over time, internally led skill-building workshops, and self-directed digital delivery. Providing relevant content that addresses everyday challenges and delivering it in preferred formats enhances access and engagement, ultimately driving performance improvement across the organization.

The role of generative AI in personalized development plans

AI revolutionizes personalized development plans by analyzing assessment data to identify individual strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences. Machine learning algorithms assess performance, skills, and feedback to generate tailored plans.

Personalized learning paths benefit employees by addressing unique needs and goals, and enhancing engagement and satisfaction. Continuous feedback plays a crucial role in employee development, providing insights into performance and areas for improvement.

Overall, AI-driven personalized plans promote continuous growth and empower employees to reach their full potential.

AI’s role in talent acceleration and automation

The integration of AI in talent acceleration and automation is transforming the way organizations prepare their managers for success. AI platforms can effectively level set skills for new managers by providing tailored learning experiences that address specific gaps in knowledge and expertise. Moreover, these platforms enable managers to engage in immersive role-play scenarios, such as handling difficult conversations, conducting pitch meetings, or negotiating for a raise. Through realistic simulations and personalized feedback, AI fosters a dynamic learning environment where managers can practice and refine their leadership capabilities in a risk-free setting. By leveraging AI-driven tools, organizations not only enhance managerial proficiency but also ensure that their leaders are well-prepared to navigate diverse challenges and drive organizational success.

Benefits of harnessing AI and real-life coaches for holistic talent development

1. Internal mobility is more cost-efficient than external hiring

Bringing talented individuals into your organization is just the first step. It takes considerable time and effort to get them up to speed and perform at their best, while nurturing and growing their talents and skills.

In low-performing organizations, talent and strategy often operate in silos, with little integration between the two. Conversely, high-performing organizations understand the interconnectedness of recruitment, retention, and internal mobility.

These successful organizations invest significant effort and resources into creating environments that foster growth, learning, engagement, and communication for their talent. Rather than solely focusing on resume qualifications, they prioritize coaching, development, and cross-training. Moreover, they emphasize workplace values as crucial components of employee success.

The Aim isn't just to guide individual career paths but to empower employees to distinguish themselves as they progress within the organization. This approach resembles an extended job performance review, highlighting the importance of ongoing development and differentiation in fostering employee advancement and organizational success.

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Consider this: external hires come with an 18% higher cost compared to internal hires, and they're 21% more likely to leave within the first year. - Forbes

So why take a risk on an outside hire when you have the option to promote a loyal and talented internal candidate who already embodies your company's culture?

Furthermore, filling a professional vacancy typically takes around 25 days. On top of that, new employees tend to operate at only 25% of their potential during their initial months in a new workplace. These statistics underscore the importance of nurturing internal talent and promoting from within, not only to save costs but also to ensure continuity and productivity within the organization.

2. Internal mobility is a top priority for the next generation of workers

The Workplace Learning Report sheds light on the top priorities of 18-to-34-year-old professionals when contemplating a new job. Surprisingly, "opportunities for career growth within the company" and "opportunities to learn and develop new skills" take the lead.

When comparing generations, Gen Z stands out, prioritizing advancement opportunities within their companies 47% more than Gen X and placing 45% more emphasis on opportunities for skill development. Remarkably, over one in three (35%) professionals aged 18 to 34 rank "opportunities for career growth within the company" as their top consideration when assessing new job opportunities. However, as organizations become leaner and flatter, upward mobility becomes a challenge. In their book "Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go," the authors point out that how we think about career development needs to shift from moving up the traditional "career ladder" to acquiring skills through "rock climbing." This metaphor helps illustrate how the career development needs of Gens Z and Y can be addressed.

These findings underscore the evolving preferences of young professionals and highlight the significance of career growth and skill development in attracting and retaining talent in today's competitive job market. When managers have frequent and regular career development conversations with their team members about the concept of "rock climbing" to gain additional skills and expertise, it can satisfy their need for growth within the organization. Working with a human coach on career development conversations can be quite useful and productive.

3. Internal mobility increases employee retention

Boredom isn't just a workplace nuisance; it's a silent killer of employee engagement, doubling the likelihood of employees leaving a company. But what lies at the root of this issue? According to a study by Udemy, 46% of respondents pointed to a lack of opportunities to learn new skills as the primary cause of workplace boredom, closely followed by unchallenging work.

Employees who opted for an internal move within their organization demonstrate a remarkable 75% chance of remaining with the company after two years of employment. In contrast, those who remained in their current roles without making any internal moves had a significantly lower retention rate, standing at just 56% after the same two-year period. This highlights the pivotal role that internal mobility plays in enhancing employee retention and fostering long-term commitment to the organization.

Internal mobility employee statistics 

With an average of 60% longer tenure, employees at companies boasting high internal mobility rates tend to stay longer.

At 18% higher cost, external hires surpass internal hires in expense.

With a 21% greater likelihood, external hires are more prone to leave within the first year.

At a 41% longer duration, employees remain with companies emphasizing internal hiring.

Human coaching can be quite effective in ramping up team members who have had (or will have) internal promotions. The coach can determine learning and skills gaps, create development plans to close those gaps and check to see how the employee has integrated what they've learned into their work environment.

Since 2021, internal mobility has surged by 30%, climbing from 18.7% to 24.4% by 2023, according to LinkedIn.

Of those surveyed, 43% expressed interest in transitioning to a new role within a different department or team, while 35% indicated a desire to switch career paths within their current company.

Pitfalls of relying exclusively on AI for your talent development

The issue with relying solely on AI for your entire talent development initiative is multifaceted but ultimately boils down to participant engagement. While AI can efficiently deliver personalized learning experiences and automate certain aspects of training, it often struggles to foster the level of engagement necessary for effective skill development. One significant challenge is the impersonal nature of AI-driven platforms, which can lack the human touch needed to motivate and inspire learners. Without personalized interaction and guidance, employees may feel disconnected from the learning process and less inclined to actively participate.

For instance, online learning frequently lacks the personal touch and direct oversight necessary to maintain motivation and accountability among employees. Without a sense of immediate consequence or interaction, individuals may prioritize their daily tasks over engaging with training modules. Moreover, the isolation of online environments can lead to disengagement, depriving participants of the collaborative learning and peer interactions crucial for skill development and morale. Research published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior suggests that coaching can facilitate the development of supportive relationships within organizations, leading to increased collaboration and a stronger sense of community among employees.

AI enhances human decision-making by providing data-driven insights for HR professionals and managers, AIding in talent development decisions. It analyzes vast datasets to uncover patterns and trends, allowing for more accurate predictions about employee performance and potential. But this method relies on participation from employees. Many companies seek out talent/leadership  development solutions when they have an engagement issue. If you’re seeking to solve employee engagement with a tool that is likely only going to decrease engagement, you’re wasting time and money and further damaging your engagement issues. So, what do you do? 

Striking the balance: leveraging AI advancements with human interaction

Prioritizing a human-centric approach can enhance your workplace in areas such as:

  • Increased retention
  • Internal mobility
  • Increased engagement from talent
  • Increase in inclusive behaviors
  • Increase in skill levels
  • Fostering a diverse and equitable workforce

To achieve these objectives, it's crucial to implement high-impact leadership development initiatives that are both accessible and scalable across the organization. While AI undoubtedly accelerates leadership development and widens accessibility beyond just high-potential individuals, the human element remains indispensable. Especially as it relates to building the level of engagement needed to see your investment payoff. 

AI-driven leadership development programs can assist in achieving HR objectives, but it's important not to overlook the human aspect when working to improve your workforce.” - Karen Benz, VP of Coaching at New Level Work

A holistic approach to leadership development is essential for future-proofing both talent and the company against evolving demands. Despite the advancements in AI, the significance of human interaction cannot be overstated. Genuine human engagement fosters participation and ensures that organizations truly maximize the benefits of their talent development programs. In a world where AI may dominate certain aspects, it's the human touch that adds depth, empathy, and authenticity to the development process, ensuring a well-rounded and effective approach to nurturing talent.

Humans bring empathy, creativity, and adaptability to the table, qualities that are crucial for effective leadership development. Additionally, human interaction fosters trust, engagement, and collaboration, elements that are vital for maximizing the impact of talent development initiatives.

While AI can enhance efficiency and provide valuable insights, the human touch remains essential for several reasons. Humans bring empathy, creativity, and adaptability to the table, qualities that are crucial for effective leadership development. Additionally, human interaction fosters trust, engagement, and collaboration, elements that are vital for maximizing the impact of talent development initiatives. Ultimately, it's the combination of AI's capabilities and human qualities that ensures a holistic and effective approach to nurturing talent and driving organizational success.

Experience the empowerment of every member of your organization as shared leadership vision, language, and behaviors align directly with critical business needs. At New Level Work we specialize in talent development and our Impact Dashboard and Assessment tools offer a comprehensive, adaptable, and tailored leadership development solution, enabling you to quickly achieve concrete business results and foster an inclusive learning culture that scales effortlessly.

Human executive coaches vs AI-driven coaches

While AI excels in processing data and delivering objective assessments, human judgment adds invaluable empathy and context to decision-making processes. This combination enables organizations to gain a comprehensive understanding of their employees' potential, addressing both strengths and developmental needs effectively.

Comparing benefits of blending human expertise and AI-driven insights
Aspect Human Coaches AI-Driven Coaches
Personalization Provide tailored guidance based on individual needs, learning styles, and real-time feedback. Deliver objective assessments and recommendations based on data analytics and algorithms.
Empathy and Context Offer empathy and contextual understanding in decision-making, considering emotional factors and personal circumstances. Lack the ability to empathize or contextualize decisions beyond data-driven insights.
Accountability Ensure accountability through regular check-ins, follow-ups, and personalized goal setting. May provide reminders and progress tracking based on algorithms but lack personalized follow-up and encouragement.
Skill Application Facilitate practical application of skills in real-world scenarios, offering insights and feedback tailored to workplace challenges. Focus on theoretical knowledge and may not effectively bridge the gap between learning and application in diverse workplace contexts.
Feedback and Improvement Provide nuanced feedback based on direct observations and learner interactions, contributing to continuous improvement of training programs. Offer insights based on data trends but may miss nuanced aspects of individual learner experiences and preferences.
Relationship Building Foster relationships and networks within the organization, promoting collaboration and a supportive workplace culture. Lack the interpersonal dynamics needed to build strong relationships or foster a sense of community among employees.
Adaptability to Learner Needs Adapt coaching approach dynamically to accommodate diverse learning preferences and evolving learner needs. Provide standardized recommendations and may not effectively adjust to changing learner requirements or preferences in real time.

Integrating both human coaching and AI-driven insights into talent development strategies ensures a balanced approach that leverages the strengths of each method. This not only enhances employee engagement and skill development but also cultivates a resilient workforce capable of sustained success in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Meet the New Level Work coaching community

Our coaches bring extensive real-world experience, with an average of over 10 years of managing and leading teams. See our coaches.
Human interaction improves employee engagement and retention

Encouraging participation in online training poses challenges for HR and learning leaders due to several factors. One significant hurdle is the lack of motivation and accountability inherent in remote learning environments, where personal interaction and oversight are limited, potentially causing employees to prioritize immediate tasks over training. 

Additionally, online learning can lead to feelings of isolation, depriving participants of the collaborative learning and peer interactions crucial in traditional settings. Remote work environments also introduce distractions and competing priorities, making it challenging for employees to dedicate focused time to training activities. Moreover, if training content does not align closely with employees' job roles or career aspirations, it may be perceived as irrelevant, further hindering engagement.

By combining online learning with the coaching of an actual human, organizations can create a more robust and effective training experience that addresses the limitations of online learning alone, ultimately leading to higher engagement and better outcomes for both employees and the organization.

Humans help keep challenges and ethical issues in check

Humans play a vital role in keeping challenges and ethical issues in check when implementing AI-driven talent development solutions. One of the key challenges is addressing data privacy concerns and algorithmic bias.

Data privacy concerns arise from the collection and use of sensitive employee data. Employees may feel uneasy about their data being analyzed and used for talent development purposes without their consent or knowledge. Furthermore, algorithmic bias can perpetuate existing inequalities and discrimination if AI models are trained on biased data or if decision-making processes are not transparent.

Ethical considerations and transparency are essential in AI-driven talent management. Organizations must develop and deploy AI systems that uphold fairness, equity, and accountability. This involves auditing AI algorithms for bias, providing clear decision-making explanations, and obtaining informed employee consent for data usage.

Bias reduction is key in AI-driven talent development. Leveraging AI interventions helps mitigate biases in talent processes by objectively analyzing data. This reduces reliance on subjective judgments prone to bias.

The implementation of data protection regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe and similar laws in other regions has heightened awareness about data privacy issues among both employees and employers.

Non-compliance with these regulations not only poses legal risks but also affects employee trust and satisfaction. To learn about our compliance agreements, visit our privacy policy.

Sixty percent of businesses using AI aren't developing ethical AI policies, and 74% fail to address potential biases. 

95% of Learning & Development (L&D) professionals believe human-centric or soft skills are becoming critical in the era of AI.

People crave being around other people

In addition to these considerations, it's important to recognize that people have an inherent desire for human interaction. The pandemic highlighted this need, as many individuals expressed a longing for connection despite the convenience of remote settings. While technology allows for communication through screens, the personal touch of human interaction remains unparalleled.

"The human touch is that little snippet of physical affection that brings a bit of comfort, support, and kindness." - Dana Arcuri

When it comes to coaching, there's a level of nuance and empathy that only a human coach can provide. While AI can offer valuable insights and guidance, it may lack the emotional intelligence and adaptability that human coaches bring to the table. This human-centric approach fosters a sense of safety and trust, enabling individuals to engage more deeply with the coaching process.

Diversifying coaching solutions beyond AI alone

Talent development at scale through group coaching

Many HR and learning and development leaders believe that solely using AI-driven coaching solutions is the most cost-effective approach. However, gaining user participation and enthusiasm for exclusively AI-driven talent development can be challenging. This can lead to wasted time and resources, especially when the initial excitement fades or the program loses relevance.

So, what should people leaders do? A more effective strategy is to partner with a provider that combines the scalable advantages of AI with a human approach. There are several options for talent development through coaching that can maximize your budget. One such option is group coaching.

Group coaching is a cost-effective solution that provides targeted lessons on specific topics within a supportive, human-centric environment. It fosters team-wide learning, growth, and collaborative success. Unlike purely AI-driven coaching programs, group coaching leverages real-life experiences and perspectives among multiple employees simultaneously, offering an intimate experience that is the next best thing to one-on-one coaching.

Invest in L&D that is flexible and grows with your company

Are you tired of seeing your training budget wasted on expired licenses? There's a better solution. Our Flex Account allows you to unlock our entire content library and maximize your budget for current and future initiatives. With our program, you can change programs and focus as needed. Our innovative credit system puts L&D in the driver's seat, giving you control and flexibility.

Choosing a partner that can adapt and grow with your company is a wise investment. Make sure your L&D initiatives are not only effective but also sustainable and scalable.

Conclusion and the future of talent development

The future of talent development lies in embracing AI while preserving human insight. Organizations must view AI as a tool that complements, rather than replaces, human expertise. Integrating AI technology with human insight maximizes talent development on a large scale and yields the highest impact. Collaborative coaching and AI-driven programs exemplify this synergy, leveraging AI-driven insights alongside personalized human guidance tailored to individual needs.

While AI offers unmatched efficiency and scalability, the human element remains indispensable in talent development. Human coaches bring empathy, intuition, wisdom, storytelling, and practical experience, providing invaluable support. By combining AI insights with human interaction, organizations can craft a holistic talent development strategy.

"AI will reduce human effort but not human touch." - Karen Benz, VP of Coaching at New Level Work

Partnering with New Level Work

With the right partner, organizations can harness the full potential of both AI and human expertise in talent development. New Level Work stands out as a partner that seamlessly balances AI technology with the human touch, effectively reducing the capacity strain on HR and L&D teams. By embracing this blended  approach with us, companies can meet the increasing demand for training and development while keeping their focus on nurturing their greatest asset: human capital.

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The future of work has arrived. It's time to thrive.