Your new coworker

Feb 11, 2024

Kristin Kautz, CPSM


AI needs effective onboarding and subsequent guidance, patience, and education in order for it to become a productive and valued “employee.”

I have often referred to AI as a hungry, spy-trained toddler: Hungry because it is always looking for more and more data to train its model, spy-trained because it most likely is taking your prompts and inputs and giving it back to its model (or owner or even the public at large), and toddler because it is prone to making things up when it generates an output – also called hallucinations.

In the past week, I have added another descriptor: new coworker. In other words, AI is still a hungry, spy-trained toddler, but it is also a hungry, spy-trained toddler who was just given a cubicle next to yours as the latest addition to your team. “Show him the ropes,” your boss says.

Like any new hire, AI needs effective onboarding and subsequent guidance, patience, and education in order for it to become a productive and valued “employee.” You would never demand that a new employee know everything about everything on day one, and yet, for some reason we expect this of an AI tool. Intelligence is something that improves and grows the more it learns, and intelligence of the artificial kind is no exception.

I would suggest first understanding the capabilities of the AI tool. Test it out. Change up your prompts and iteratively improve how you ask questions. Give it logical and helpful instructions. Be specific. Over communicate. If you are also the one training its knowledge base, make sure your data is clean and accurate and the resources and files you are uploading are current, relevant, and clear. Keep working with the AI – just like you would a new coworker – until you figure out the best way to interact so that it can provide you with exactly what you are looking for.

We all get frustrated with the naivety of the newbie sitting next to us who needs more time and attention than we have to give. However, I am certain that the quality of our investment in AI – including the time, talent, and resources we devote upfront and as we continue to build this working partnership – will create an incalculable advantage for you and your firm. Perseverance will pay off. 

Kristin Kautz, CPSM is an artificial intelligence consultant at Zweig Group. Contact her at

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Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.