HR Florida


Florida State Council Affiliate of SHRM

The AI Jolt: Turning Teams into Super-Teams

By: Dr. Eric L. Demirjian

In the face of an increasingly AI-driven future, it is natural to feel a sense of unease, akin to John Connor’s apprehension in the Terminator movies.Embracing the new state of things, I turned to ChatGPT for insight on the matter, and discovered a refreshing perspective that challenges the notion of AI as a job-stealing villain.

I asked ChatGPT if humans should be scared of ChatGPT, and if not, why not? The profoundly groundbreaking tool found it understandable that employees would be concerned about the impact of AI on their jobs. Yet, it went on to present a compelling case for why such fears might be misplaced. Rather than replacing humans, AI is here to augment our capabilities, opening up new opportunities, creating new jobs, and serving as a useful collaboration tool. Moreover, the development and deployment of AI are governed by ethical considerations, with human oversight remaining integral and irreplaceable.

The response made it clear that even AI recognizes its limitations in handling the nuances of human interaction. The human touch, complex decision-making, interpersonal communication, and creativity remain areas where human expertise is crucial.

As HR professionals, our role is to help employees see AI as a tool for growth and empowerment, not a threat to their jobs. So, those of you feeling like John Connor can relax – the future is not a dystopian nightmare, but a chance to transform our current workforce teams into Superteams.

The Shift

The AI jolt presents a remarkable opportunity for growth and transformation, but it also requires organizations to reassess and adapt their HR practices to fully harness its potential. That not-so-subtle shift that you are feeling is AI tools, functionalities, and capabilities “jolting” every piece of traditional work fabric – expertise, procedures, processes, business models, products, and services. AI is just beginning to announce its presence, with the capacity to far exceed the historical performance impacts and changes to work brought by the industrial revolution, the computer, and even the internet. This article will dig into the shift you are experiencing and give you a preview of the future.

Let’s start with what you are feeling: jolts. Jolts are highly disruptive, unprecedented, uncontrollable, and novel events that alter work-team life, tasks, and goals in such a way that it necessitates organizations and employees to invest additional resources, time, and energy to adjust to a new organizational reality. 

Fast forward just a couple of years from now and it is likely that there will not be a single aspect of your entire personnel, office, or organizational work left untouched by AI.The list, while not endless yet, is growing. Consider some of the ways AI may already be impacting you or will impact you in just the next 12 months. AI-based technology platforms are already yielding significant improvements in recruitment and talent acquisition, predictive HR analytics, decision-making, onboarding, learning paths, conflict resolution, benefits packages, mental health monitoring, and performance evaluation systems and this improvement is set to continue at an even faster pace.

However it is not just the pace of change. The difference between AI and the historical examples of the computer, the internet, and the industrial revolution is that AI is more than a tool, more than a body of knowledge, and more than a way of thinking; AI is your new teammate. Except this teammate is imbued with awesome technological powers that oftentimes can surpass the maximum performance levels of its human peers; this type of teaming is already taking place. For example, the 2024 March issue of Inside Defense reported that the U.S. Department of Defense is on a path to create Superteams, defined as a “novel concept intended to create high-functioning team members integrated with autonomous AI tools and capabilities collectively capable of surpassing the maximum performance levels of human-only teams (Inside Defense, 2024).” 

Your New Teammate

What does research suggest about how HR professionals should use AI to increase performance and create the HR Superteams of tomorrow? The answer is to start with building a workforce that is designed to adopt and thrive with an AI teammate. The employees of today and tomorrow require AI be used first and foremost to ensure survival of the business. Let’s walk through the evidence.

First, AI is currently capable of not only delivering performance improvements of over 200 percent, AI is also capable of improving the performance of all employees, including low, moderate, and high performers. By improving talent at all levels, AI is helping reduce the skill gap between low- and high-performing team members. However, the impact of AI does not end with individually measured performance improvements. Another critical aspect of Superteams is the ability of AI to assist humans in maintaining long-term performance without negatively impacting cognitive reserve. AI’s ability to assist with task replacement, task augmentation, and task innovation factors restructures the way human teammates and the team work so that the team and humans maintain high performance over time. 

Second, AI is a creative jolt responsible for significant increases in overall workforce performance. The most recent, cutting-edge research demonstrates that AI-based jolts are elucidating creative changes that are leading to enormous increases in performance, productivity, and efficiencies when properly aligned with organizational mission. HR professionals must recognize that businesses and teams unable to adopt AI-based creative jolts will be at a significant disadvantage to those organizations that adapt to teaming with AI and recognize the positive performance factors it delivers. To put this into perspective, nearly all organizational jolts, such as socio-economic, organizational, environmental, and disaster jolts, are negative performance forces. However, recent research demonstrates AI is a positive performance for, meaning that the groups, teams, and individuals who fail to adopt AI as a teammate or appropriately align goals will likely permanently underperform competitors who do adopt AI teaming. AI-based jolts and the resulting performance increases will have potentially explosive implications for HR leaders and managers.

Third, academic and real-world evidence demonstrate that AI has made Human-Autonomous Teams (HATs or Superteams) possible, in which we witness each participant having the autonomy to make decisions. Superteams are created using AI to team with human employees at the multi-tasking level. Said in a different way, it is the ability of humans to team with AI and to engage in a rapid exchange, or to quickly shift gears, or to efficiently juggle human-autonomous multi-tasking. This allows AI to make decisions on its own, freeing up the cognitive focus of humans for application to other priorities. The future of work, therefore, is the capability of AI to free up human teammates’ brains, allowing humans to focus on activities requiring human intelligence, while knowing that AI will not let other critical work components fail. Moreover, HR professionals can actually create Superteams within their own organizations. These HATs and Superteams are likely to be the preeminent form of work for the remainder of human existence and HR has the opportunity to take a leadership role in that endeavor. Think about that for a moment; HR is redefining the embodiments of human-work for generations to come. 

In Conclusion

This is not the HR version of a Terminator movie. Evidence strongly demonstrates that Superteaming and AI augmentation of teams are changing the very nature of work around us. It is not a cost-effective strategy for HR to wait. HR must plan for the new AI, HATs, and Superteaming work environment by hiring and promoting employees that want to experiment with AI. HR must help create teams whose aim is to learn how your organization should work with AI, deliver AI transparency, and willing to develop a first mover advantage guiding late-movers in how to team with AI with a wealth of established use cases and company-specific applications.

With HR’s role in the organization, it is incumbent on HR managers and leaders to understand and harness AI’s impact on the workforce, hire workforces that accept the creative performance jolts AI brings, and use HR to create the Superteams of tomorrow, today. 

About the Author

Dr. Eric L. Demirjian is a research fellow for the Center for Innovation Management and Business Analytics at the Florida Institute of Technology, specializing in Superteams, artificial intelligence teaming, and artificial intelligence job augmentation. Eric has 22 years of experience in aerospace engineering, artificial intelligence, modeling and simulation, and leading teams in the creation of solutions for the defense, aerospace, intelligence, and test and evaluation industries. Contact him at [email protected].

If you would like to explore this topic more, look for Dr. Demirjian and Dr. Hill at the 2024 HR Florida Conference in their session “AI & HR: 5 Uses for Today and 5 Ways to Prepare for the Superteams of Tomorrow.” 

Editor’s note: Dr. Demirjian and Dr. Hill will be presenting “AI & HR: 5 Uses for Today and 5 Ways to Prepare for the Superteams of Tomorrow”  at the 2024 HR Florida Conference.