Artificial Intelligence

AI Grief to AI Growth: A Journey through Change in Your Industry

Dive into the emotional journey workers experience as they navigate AI and examine the parallel between their reaction to Artificial Intelligence and the stages of grief from denial to acceptance.

When groundbreaking tech advancements make their debut, it often sparks a whirlwind of mixed feelings – with Artificial Intelligence perfectly encapsulating this. Its meteoric rise within technology has incited an emotional response that swings from total amazement to unease and apprehension.

As I’ve been scrolling through articles, listening to podcasts or even going down a YouTube rabbit hole on the topic of AI, one thing is becoming increasingly clear and surprisingly familiar.

We all seem to be going through the same stages of grief that we feel when we deal with big changes that come with loss in our personal lives.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Take a moment to think about what stage you are right now?

Denial – Is AI Really That Big a Deal?

When AI first made the news, plenty of people brushed it aside. “It won’t touch my job,” they’d say confidently, “my work needs a human touch.” In this denial stage, workers just didn’t see AI as being a big deal in their field. But behind the scenes, AI was quietly changing the way things worked, making everything faster and smarter. It was only when AI’s impact became super obvious that people started to take notice.

So what helps us move past denial? Good planning. Companies that saw the trend and understood AI’s potential got a head start. They used best-practice goal setting methods like OKRs to smoothly bring Artificial Intelligence into their work. Instead of dismissing AI, they welcomed it and got ready for change.

How to cope with the denial stage

Educate Yourself

Understanding AI and its potential is the first step towards acceptance. There are numerous resources – online courses, webinars, podcasts, and articles – where you can learn more about AI. This will help you see how AI is not just a passing trend, but a technology that’s fundamentally changing various industries.

Recognise the Impact

It’s essential to realise that AI is not just about robots or advanced machines. It’s also about data analysis, automation, predictive modelling, and more. The chances are that AI is already being used in your industry in some form or another. Look around, see the changes, and acknowledge that AI is indeed a big deal.

Embrace Change

Change is the only constant. It’s crucial to be open-minded and flexible. Remember that AI isn’t necessarily about replacing humans; it’s about aiding human work, increasing productivity, and allowing more focus on tasks that require human ingenuity.

Plan Ahead

If you’re in a leadership position, consider following the lead of those successful companies who used goal-setting frameworks like OKRs to integrate AI. Set clear Objectives and key results to bring AI into your business processes. Having a roadmap can help reduce fear and denial as you know what to expect and when.

Talk About It

Communication can help ease anxiety. If you’re feeling unsure about AI’s impact on your job, talk to your supervisors, colleagues, or industry peers. Discussing your concerns can help clarify your thoughts and often provides new insights.

Anger – The AI Threat

Once denial fades, anger takes over. “Why should a machine get my job?” was a common fear. Workers felt threatened, seeing Artificial Intelligence as an enemy, not a tool. But what if we flip the script? What if AI wasn’t snatching jobs, but reshaping them – creating new opportunities for human creativity and strategy?

ZOKRI research on implementing AI found that that 49% of US and UK workers believed that there will be job losses within their organisations because of AI.

The secret here is to develop a strong company game plan. When companies use AI as an assistant to boost human talent rather than replace it, they can turn this anger into excitement. Employees start seeing AI not as a threat, but as a cool tech assistant that makes their jobs more efficient.

How to cope with the anger stage

Understand AI’s Purpose

It’s essential to remember that AI is designed to automate repetitive tasks, not eliminate jobs entirely. This frees up time for employees to focus on more complex and creative aspects of their work, where human intuition and experience are irreplaceable.

Reframe Your Perspective

Instead of viewing AI as a threat to job security, try to see it as a tool that can make your job easier and more efficient. By taking over mundane tasks, AI allows you to focus on work that is more meaningful and engaging.

Engage in Lifelong Learning

The rise of AI in the workplace underscores the importance of continual learning and skill development. Embrace opportunities to learn about AI and related technologies. This not only makes you more valuable to your company but also helps mitigate the fear of being replaced.

Communicate Your Concerns

If you’re feeling angry or threatened, don’t bottle it up! Talk to your colleagues, supervisors, or HR about your concerns. Chances are, you’re not alone in your feelings, and open dialogue can help foster a more positive and understanding workplace culture.

Get Involved in AI Strategy

If possible, get involved in your company’s AI strategy. Understanding how and why AI is being implemented can help assuage fears and reduce anger. It also gives you an opportunity to voice any concerns and potentially influence how AI is used in your workplace.

Bargaining – Can We Share the Workspace?

Next comes the bargaining stage. People start wondering, “Can AI and humans work side by side? Can Artificial Intelligence handle the boring stuff while we deal with the big-picture stuff?” The answer is of course a big, resounding YES!

When using goal-setting frameworks like OKRs, we can clearly map out what AI does and what’s left for us to do. By doing this, we’re not just acknowledging AI but making the best use of it. This helps employees see AI as a team player, not a rival.

Here’s an example of an OKR that includes the use of AI:

Improve customer experience through personalised marketing

Key Result 1
Implement an AI-driven recommendation system on our online store by Q2
This result is measurable by the completion of the AI system implementation within the given timeframe.

Key Result 2
Increase personalization of email marketing campaigns using AI algorithms to 75% of customers by Q3
This result is quantifiable by the percentage of personalised emails sent.

Key Result 3
Achieve a 20% increase in click-through rates from personalised recommendations by Q4
This result measures the impact of the AI-driven recommendation system on customer engagement.

Key Result 4
Improve customer retention rate by 10% by the end of the year through personalised offers and recommendations
This result tracks the impact of AI-driven personalization on customer loyalty.

In this OKR example, the Objective is clearly defined and the key results are specific, measurable, and tied directly to the main objective. AI is utilised as a tool to achieve these results.

How to cope with the bargaining stage

Establish Clear Roles

By using frameworks like OKRs, we can clearly define the roles that AI and humans will play. AI can handle the repetitive, time-consuming tasks while humans can focus on strategic, creative, and empathetic aspects. This division of roles can reduce the fear and tension associated with Artificial Intelligence adoption.

Find Value in AI

Understand that AI isn’t a job-stealer, but a valuable tool that can improve efficiency and productivity. Recognize the areas where AI can help, such as data processing or trend analysis, and bargain with it, letting it handle these tasks so you can focus on bigger picture tasks.

Learn to Collaborate

Embrace the idea of human-AI collaboration. Tools and platforms that support this collaboration are developing rapidly, and learning how to use these tools effectively can make your job easier and more efficient.

Focus on Upskilling

Accept that AI is here to stay, and focus on enhancing your skills to work effectively alongside AI. This could mean learning how to interpret AI findings or becoming skilled at managing AI systems.

Embrace Change

Accept that the workplace is evolving, and AI is a part of that evolution. This change isn’t something to be feared but embraced. With AI taking over routine tasks, you have more opportunities to engage in rewarding and strategic work.

Depression – Feeling Overwhelmed by AI

As people start to understand just how powerful AI is, it’s common to feel swamped and underprepared. “How can I possibly keep up with this technology?” is a question many of us ask. Artificial Intelligence is advancing at lightning speed, and that can indeed be overwhelming.

But good company strategy can be a lifesaver. Businesses need to support their employees with the right training and resources. They need to encourage a culture of ongoing learning to help employees get comfortable with AI. This can lift the mood and give people a clear path forward.

How to cope with the depression stage

Embrace a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset encourages continuous learning and viewing challenges as opportunities for growth. Embrace the learning curve associated with AI and see it as a chance to expand your knowledge and skills, rather than an insurmountable challenge.

Seek Out Training

If your company offers training sessions, workshops, or courses about AI, make sure to take advantage of them. Understanding how AI works and how to use it effectively can significantly reduce feelings of being overwhelmed.

Take One Step at a Time

Remember, you don’t have to learn everything about AI overnight. Start with the basics and gradually build up your understanding. Consider setting personal OKRs that relate to AI learning and development to guide your progress.

Reach Out to Others

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Reach out to your colleagues, join online forums, or attend industry seminars. Sharing your experiences and learning from others can be incredibly helpful.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

It’s perfectly normal to feel stressed or overwhelmed during periods of significant change. Make sure to take time for self-care and seek support from mental health professionals if needed.

Acceptance – Embracing the AI Revolution

As we get to know AI better, acceptance starts to take root. We realise AI is here to stay, and it’s actually on our side – not against us. It’s not an all-knowing, job-snatching monster, but a tool, when used properly, can make our work more far more efficient, help us make better decisions, and give our customers a better experience.

Welcoming AI into our workplaces needs smart planning, setting the right goals, and a solid strategy in place. Every industry, company, and person will move through these stages at their own pace. But by the end, one thing becomes clear: AI is not here to replace us – it’s here to work with us, boosting our abilities and helping us reach new heights.

Next steps

Re-evaluate Your Strategy

Now that you’ve accepted AI as part of your work ecosystem, revisit your company strategy. How can you best incorporate AI to enhance your processes, improve decision-making, and provide better services?

Set AI-focused Goals

Use a goal-setting framework like OKRs to create specific objectives around AI integration. What aspects of your work can benefit most from AI, and what key results would indicate success?

Train Your Team

It’s essential for everyone in the company to understand AI and how to work with it. Provide training sessions or resources to ensure your team is up to speed.

Iterate and Improve

AI is an evolving technology, and you’ll need to continuously iterate your strategy and tactics to stay on top of the latest developments. Regularly evaluate your AI initiatives and look for areas of improvement.

Collaborate with AI

Remember, AI is a tool designed to enhance human abilities, not replace them. Foster a workplace culture that embraces AI as a collaborator.

Share Success Stories

Encourage your team to share their positive experiences with AI. Success stories can boost morale and help everyone in the organization see the tangible benefits of AI.

Celebrate Milestones

As you make progress in your AI journey, celebrate the milestones. Recognizing achievements can keep your team motivated and committed to integrating AI into their work.

The sooner we switch from fear to acceptance, the sooner we can make the most of all the amazing things AI can do for us. The future of our industries isn’t a world without humans – it’s a world where humans and AI work together, each making the other better. In my eyes at least, that’s definitely a future worth aiming for.