Generative AI (GenAI) is becoming increasingly popular among Learning and Development (L&D) leaders. In the recent webinar Skills for Learning and Development Leaders in 2024:Embracing Generative AI and Leading Through Change, Udemy CLO Melissa Daimler and Amanda Nolen, Co-Founder of NilesNolen, discussed how L&D executives can prepare themselves, their teams, and their companies for an AI-enabled workplace while also embracing technology in creative ways. We’ve included key takeaways from the presentation as well as questions from L&D executives in the audience, with a focus on GenAI’s role in the future of work.

Key AI takeaways for L&D leaders

L&D and HR leaders must lead their teams and businesses through the changes and challenges of generative AI. To successfully traverse this period of change, Daimler and Nolen recommend that executives focus on developing a diverse set of business, technical, and soft skills. Coaching: Learn how to ask effective questions and actively listen. Clear communication: When issuing orders and communicating changes to stakeholders at all levels, prioritize clarity and alignment. Self-awareness: Encourage reflection to recognize personal strengths and areas for improvement.

Understand your business. It is a necessary skill for most employees, but it is especially critical for L&D leaders who must understand the challenges that their customers and employees confront. You can’t lead change until you know how your role fits into your company’s overarching vision. Horizon Scanning: Nolen said that L&D executives must be proactive in their domains and constantly look for what is next in their field. Follow the social media profiles of L&D/HR leaders you respect to learn about what the greater L&D community is worried about. Join a virtual or in-person community group to talk about challenges, trends, and other subjects with your coworkers. Prompt Engineering: As the impact of AI grows, understanding how to use AI to its maximum potential

Use of a large language model (LLM) Leaders who wish to see their teams develop AI-specific skills must first have a fundamental understanding of them. For example, in the L&D function, knowing LLMs can help match current employee skills to the company’s high-demand skill requirements.
Augment, automate, and amplify to boost L&D teams

How can L&D executives use AI to help their employees work differently and more strategically? Daimler and Nolen advocate employing artificial intelligence (AI) to complement, automate, and enhance tasks. Augment: Using artificial intelligence to improve existing jobs and procedures. Ask yourself and your team what we can do using AI. Udemy CLO Melissa Daimler demonstrated how her L&D team used AI to design a new manager assessment template in a week, allowing them to focus on more complex duties. Automate: Which lower-level tasks can be automated to free up time for more sophisticated work? For example, create an automated message on your company’s chat to remind your team to express their weekly priorities. Automation is not limited to large businesses.

Amplify: How can you make your leadership skills more effective? Enhance your leadership and critical thinking skills in the face of GenAI-driven advancements. Communicate your goals for augmenting, automating, and amplifying work to your team. These are activities that will help them better their work, not replace it. Daily work may change in some ways as a result of AI, and it is the responsibility of L&D leaders to ease their team’s concerns while simultaneously emphasizing the benefits of GenAI.

How to boost AI skills within the company

The first step in integrating AI skills into a business is to provide a secure environment in which employees may experiment with the technology. To encourage employees to spend time playing with GenAI, our panelists recommend L&D directors do three things: Provide precise guidelines. The data used in AI applications can vary in sensitivity. Collaborate with cross-functional partners to develop criteria for the data that employees can use in generative AI tools and how to use it. Collaborate with your legal, IT, data science, HR, and other relevant departments to create an AI policy that meets your organization’s specific needs.

Encourage failure: It is doubtful that employees would create flawless generative AI prompts on the first try. Help them grow comfortable with failure by sharing your own less-than-ideal AI experiences. Encourage employees to form discussion groups or communities of practice to enhance their AI skills. Ensure strong leadership buy-in. Leaders, from the C-suite to small-team managers, play a critical role in integrating AI capabilities. Leaders must role model their own experiences in order to foster a psychologically safe environment in which employees can experiment and fail with AI skills. Set aside time at the next all-hands meeting for the CEO to discuss their experiences and mistakes with GenAI. Employees are more likely to try out new skills when they know their colleagues are doing the same.

Frequently asked questions from L&D leaders

According to the heated discussions during the webinar chat, AI is a top priority for L&D experts in 2024. Here are some of the most common questions our speakers got throughout the webinar. How can we lower the risk of false data and hallucinations in AI output? Nolen argues that when deploying AI, some level of human supervision is necessary. You cannot assume that your GenAI output is reliable; always challenge the results. All three speakers agreed that AI tools should be seen as helpers or interns. It is unfamiliar with the context of your inquiry or the complexities of your business, thus human verification of the AI’s work is a necessary step in using AI.

What advise would you provide L&D and HR leaders to help them think differently about AI? Daimler and Nolen encourage L&D and HR leaders to accept experimentation and failure when incorporating AI into their teams and organizational processes. “AI is unchartered territory,” Nolen says. “Failure is part of the learning journey.” In practice, experimenting means L&D leaders having regular interactions with their teams about how they’ve employed AI in the workplace and delving deeper into the pain points or efficiencies in these use cases. Consider automating a repetitious process. If it doesn’t work, investigate why and try another AI tool.

What should L&D/HR executives do to stay up to date on GenAI developments, and how can they help their teams navigate this transition? According to Nolen, this is where horizon scanning and business acumen skills are needed. Staying current with GenAI applications enables you to be proactive in identifying uses for the technology within your team and throughout your organization. Understanding your organization’s business, strategy, and customers enables L&D leaders to be proactive in establishing learning programs that fit company needs, such as upskilling employees with GenAI skills to increase productivity.


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