When it comes to ChatGPT, these HR leaders are asking questions first and automating later

‘If you…try to limit the conversation at this point, you lose out on a ton of insight,’ one chief people officer says.
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Francis Scialabba

· 4 min read

For HR leaders looking to evolve their tech tools and lead their companies into a brave, new automated frontier, ChatGPT is a tantalizing prospect. Bloomberg cited a recent Gartner survey that indicated that almost half of HR leaders are plugging away at implementing usage guidelines for the tool at work, and two HR leaders who spoke with HR Brew expressed excitement at the possibility of adopting ChatGPT for their teams.

But before hitting send on a company-wide directive, they’re exercising caution.

Yinka Opaneye, chief people officer at the blockchain platform Nethermind, told HR Brew he believes the emergence and accessibility of ChatGPT compels leaders to ponder big questions about HR’s future, like: “How do we encourage the use of this tool, this technology that’s going to be making such a huge difference in all facets of the people function?”

As curiosity and excitement about generative AI courses through HR departments, leaders need to first understand how different generative AI products work, said Cara Brennan Allamano, chief people officer of people management platform Lattice. “Right now, we’re in the listening and data gathering phase,” before implementing internal usage guidelines, she said. According to both leaders, asking targeted questions prior to diving into the generative AI waters will allow their organizations to craft guidelines without succumbing to some of its pitfalls.

Questions first. In HR leadership circles, there is a seeming inevitability about the use of ChatGPT and its myriad capabilities for HR departments. “We know that people are using this tool already, and we’re just going to assume that this is now part of our business,” Brennan Allamano said.

At Lattice, the ChatGPT question is subject to deliberation broadly across teams. “We have a group within our product team that is looking at implications around AI within our products and what we’re building, and we have a lot of conversations across the organization,” she said.

Ideally, using generative AI would facilitate everyone doing their best work, she argued. But despite the tool’s resounding popularity and facility with crafting convincing prose, uncertainty lingers, especially concerning accuracy and bias. The smart assistant and its competitors, such as Google’s Bard and Bing’s AI chatbot, cobble together answers from existing information online, and all have exhibited a tendency to spit out falsehoods.

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Using a smart assistant for public-facing work isn’t as easy in “an area that requires a lot of specialist information and fact check[ing],” Opaneye said. Because of that, Nethermind is opting for a “cautionary approach.” The company will determine its guidelines after the dust settles surrounding some of the more high-profile criticisms around ChatGPT, including a government ban in Italy and calls for a six-month pause in AI development from notable experts.

In the meantime, Opanaye is exploring the possibilities the technology can open up for his department. He’s hopeful, and thinks it can revolutionize certain aspects of the trade, such as “how we recruit and assess individuals coming into the company, to how we support them with their learning [and] how we assess their learning.”

Thoughtful, specific, and small. An organization hoping to establish rules for usage should start small, Brennan Allamano advised. “It’s about being really thoughtful and specific to your company and how this tool is going to help you succeed,” she said.

So far, harnessing ChatGPT has been easiest for simple tasks, Opaneye said. “It’s incredibly helpful in writing job descriptions and writing job advertisements,” he explained. Beyond that, Opaneye has “encouraged it within the team when writing some generic messages, especially if the messages are going to be sent out to the organization.”

In the near term, Opaneye hopes to take a step back and assess what Nethermind has “been able to achieve” in its usage of generative AI. Then he hopes to advocate for its usage in the broader organization, particularly in the marketing department, saying, “Here are some of the things that we have learned…you can use some of that knowledge that we have acquired as we’re playing around with it,” he said.

As experts explained to HR Brew earlier this year, the generative AI revolution is still in its infancy. As the technology grows, so too should a willingness to learn how it best fits into the HR tech stack, Brennan Allamano said. “If you get ahead of this and try to limit the conversation at this point, you lose out on a ton of insight.”—SB

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