You Ask, I Answer: Generative AI Impact on Bench Depth?

You Ask, I Answer: Generative AI Impact on Bench Depth?

In today’s episode, delve into the potential impact of generative AI on entry-level jobs and the importance of maintaining bench depth within organizations. You’ll explore the contrasting approaches of progressive and regressive companies towards AI implementation and its implications for employee upskilling and long-term workforce sustainability. Additionally, you’ll gain insights on the enduring value of human relationships in certain roles and tasks that are difficult for AI to replicate.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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Christopher Penn: In today’s episode, Kathy asks, “Does anyone see the problem with generative AI consuming all the entry-level jobs? If you have no junior team, then you have no one to get experience to become a senior person.”
Yep, this is a problem.

This is a known problem with generative AI.

And it’s something that people have to be very thoughtful about when they’re rolling out generative AI within companies like agencies and things like that.
One of the things I say in my keynotes is that the outcome for generative AI will be based on the type of company you work for and their values.

More progressive companies will say, “Yes, let’s take a whole bunch of tasks, automate them, and get them off your plate.” And then, for the people who now have fewer tasks to perform, a progressive company will say, “Great, let’s upskill you into using AI, into doing these tasks better so that we can handle more work and take on more work, we can get more work done.”
Get more work done, or double down on the things that machines just don’t do well.

So, for example, one of the things that in the medical field is a known issue is that doctors and practitioners have to spend a lot of time doing paperwork.

If you were to automate the paperwork portion, that doctor might be able to say, instead of saying, “Look, I can only spend four minutes talking to you because I have to spend 22 minutes filling up paperwork,” could say, “I can spend 26 minutes with you and, and get to know the problems that you’re bringing in much more detail.”
If you’re working in an agency, you might have more time for client meetings, more time for strategy sessions, more time for real one-on-ones, more time to manage people better, to help them upskill, or to become better workers.
At a regressive company—a company that is less progressive—yeah, they’re just going to cut headcount as fast as they can.

They’re going to ditch people and reap the cost savings.

And as Kathy points out, that can—that’s probably gonna bite you in the ass in about 10 years when you no longer have anyone to promote, to replace the people who are at the top who are retiring, they’re out, they’re done.

And there’s—you have no bench left.

You have, like, five people who work at the agency because you ditched as many people as possible.

And as your senior people leave, there’s no one to replace them.

So one of the things that companies have to think about in their values, in their approach to management is: how important is it to maintain a bench of good people? Even if you don’t necessarily have a ton of, you know, automated task work for them? Is that bench depth important enough for the long-term health of the company? If it is, then you need to take that progressive approach.

If it’s not, you take the regressive approach and you accept the risk of not having enough people to run the company in 10 years.
As generative AI gets better and better and better, it will consume more tasks.

But there are still tasks that generative AI is not going to be able to replace, one of which is where the human relationship is a part of the core value offering.

For example, you probably would not be thrilled about having your hairdresser replaced by a machine.

Part of the reason you go to the barbershop or the hairdresser is because you want to have that relaxing experience, talk to your barber, your hairdresser, your nail stylist, whoever, and, you know, shoot the shit with them and stuff like that.

That human interaction is part of the value of the relationship.

And having a machine do that, it might be cheaper, but it’s not quite as good.
Imagine going to the—going to a bar, right? And it’s your favorite bar and your bartender’s there.

Imagine having that bartender replaced by a robot.

You’re like, “So let me tell you about my week,” and, you know, the machine might be programmed to have a decent language model, but it’s just not the same.

It’s not the same as talking to, you know, talking to Moe at the bar, it’s—it is not the same.

So those companies that are more progressive are going to recognize that those types of jobs and those tasks, the human relationships, it’s gonna be real hard to have machines replace that.
Think carefully about your values.

Think carefully about the kinds of companies you work for and who runs them.

If a company is super focused on things like shareholder value, yeah, it’s probably not going to invest heavily in its people.
That’s gonna do it for today’s episode.

Thanks for the question.

Talk to you next time.


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