Tag Archives: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence for HR (a practical viewpoint!)

Cover design for the new book

Cover design for the new book

I’m in the middle of writing a book. Yes, a BOOK! I’m having fun and writing a ton, but I’m also looking for a little help. See, I need some examples from vendors and employers to help me fill in a few case studies and would love to feature you in the book if you’re a fit for my requirements.

The survey below is open to anyone and I would appreciate it if you would respond. This goes doubly for anyone looking to be highlighted (vendor or practitioner) in the book. 

Please take our 1-minute survey

  • Vendors: I’m looking for any HR, recruiting, talent, or learning software companies that are using machine learning, natural language processing, deep learning, etc. in their products for purposes of automation or augmentation. I need examples across the spectrum so while I know talent acquisition is going to be heavily represented (and that’s fine) I would also like to talk with those serving talent management, workforce management, learning management, and other HR audiences.
  • Practitioners: I’m looking for companies USING these kinds of software tools. Is your recruiting tool doing automated sourcing for you? Is your workforce scheduling tool automatically offering shifts and reducing the hands-on work your team is doing? Maybe your talent management system is giving you red flags on which of your high-value workers are in danger of leaving the company? Is your learning tool recommending highly personalized content for workers based on what their peers are consuming? If you’re using a modern piece of HR technology, there’s a chance you are seeing some of these benefits. I’d love to feature you in the book whether as a small segment in a chapter, a case study, etc. Lots of opportunities to highlight the great work you’re doing as an HR leader!

Click here if you are interested in participating and I will be in touch soon. Thanks so much!

Why write a book about artificial intelligence in human resources?

I’ve had a few people ask me why this topic. In truth, I see it as a public service. So much of what I read (and you probably, too) around how AI will impact human resources is written by the following types of people:

  • People who have never worked in HR
  • People who want attention by latching onto a “hot” topic

The problem is that very few of these pieces I’m seeing actually talk about solving problems. Instead they talk about theory or high-level impact, which doesn’t help you do your job any better. I’m trying to bring a highly practical perspective to the topic, which is why I’m looking for company stories and examples to weave into the content. I will have to give a basic primer on AI and how it works, but that’s just to get everyone to a basic level of understanding. The vast majority of the book content will be focusing on ACTUAL problems HR can solve across performance, learning, and recruiting.

Plus it’s my chance to write a book for a traditional publisher. I’ve published a Kindle book but have not had this chance previously, so I’ll be sharing the experience and what I think about the process. Look for me to talk more about this topic as the year goes on!

Your Uber Drivers are Cheating Because They Don’t Want an Algorithm for a Manager

If you missed the news this last week, a pair of researchers have published a report showing that Uber drivers are gaming the system in order to earn more money, reduce pickups, and fight back against what they see as a tyrannical algorithm. Here’s a blurb from PBS:

As University of Warwick researchers Mareike Möhlmann and Ola Henfridsson and Lior Zalmanson of New York University say in their best academese: “We identify a series of mechanisms that drivers use to regain their autonomy when faced with the power asymmetry imposed by algorithmic management, including guessing, resisting, switching and gaming the Uber system.”

Algorithmic management is, of course, the software Uber uses to control its drivers. As Mareike Möhlmann puts it: “Uber uses software algorithms for oversight, governance and to control drivers, who are tracked and their performance constantly evaluated.”

A joint statement from the authors elaborated: “Under constant surveillance through their phones and customer reviews, drivers’ behavior is ranked automatically and any anomalies reported for further review, with automatic bans for not obeying orders or low grades. Drivers receive different commission rates and bonus targets, being left in the dark as to how it is all calculated. Plus drivers believe they are not given rides when they near reaching a bonus.

Small wonder then that, according to Lior Zalmanson, “The drivers have the feeling of working for a system rather than a company, and have little, if any interaction with an actual Uber employee.”

So what are the drivers doing in response? Gaming the system by tricking the algorithm.

The researchers report that drivers organize mass “switch-offs.” The dearth of drivers in a given area then triggers the surge pricing mechanism.

The authors conclude by summarizing their findings, pretty much as formally as they began: “We found that [the drivers] actively tried to regain some of their lost control and sense of autonomy. We reported four observed driver behaviors. We found that drivers tried to guess and make sense of the system’s intentions. They utilized forums such as UberPeople to share these stories and gain social support. In many cases, these stories were echoed by other drivers, creating an urge to act. This resulted in a range of practices to resist the system, by switching to alternative systems and even gaming the system to their advantage.”

While the rest of us aren’t switching out our managers for an algorithm any time soon, it’s important to note some of the key statements in this piece that relate to all of us as employers.

The drivers have the feeling of working for a system rather than a company, and have little, if any interaction with an actual Uber employeePeople want to interact with people. That’s not Uber’s business model, but we’re seeing now yet another strain on the company based on a fundamental fact that humans are social creatures.

When you work for a nameless, faceless system (or algorithm), it becomes much easier to cheat the system and fight back. It’s different if you’re having weekly conversations with real people who care about you and your success. Remember this idea when you’re trying to find out how to connect your remote employees.

We found that [the drivers] actively tried to regain some of their lost control and sense of autonomy. Is it any surprise that workers would like some sense of control or autonomy in their work? It’s a foundational management and leadership premise to provide autonomy to workers, yet Uber tries to treat its drivers like nothing more than the robots that power its algorithm and platform.

Do we really have to have a newsflash that reminds this company that people are, um, people? They have hopes. Dreams. Desires. And they will find a way to get them if they feel like they are not appreciated or supported appropriately.

Drivers receive different commission rates and bonus targets, being left in the dark as to how it is all calculated. Plus drivers believe they are not given rides when they near reaching a bonus. One of the first lessons you learn in HR? Don’t screw with someone’s pay. Whatever you do, be transparent and don’t make people guess about how their compensation works, or you run the risk of creating a black hole of negativity and gossip that will swallow the company whole.

In a previous job a big part of my compensation was a quarterly bonus that my family depended on. It never failed that each and every quarter the deadline for payment would pass, I would raise the question, and eventually it would get paid. But why make me or any other employee have to go through those hoops for that? It makes me wonder if I would have ever been paid ANY of it if I hadn’t brought it to their attention. When it comes to how pay is structured, be clear about the expectations, be transparent about the process, and for goodness’ sake pay people when you say you will.

Okay, that’s enough from me. What are your thoughts on this specific issue or these general issues? Am I on point? Off the mark?