How GPTs can elevate the performance of knowledge workers

A recent study by Harvard Business School sheds light on the transformative potential of ChatGPT in knowledge industries. According to the research, ChatGPT can significantly boost the capabilities of lower-performing employees, effectively narrowing the performance gap between them and their higher-achieving counterparts. This democratisation of skill and knowledge in the workplace hinges on the advanced capabilities of AI, but also underscores the essential role of training.

The Power of AI Assistance

ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI, excels in understanding and generating human-like text based on vast datasets. It can assist with a variety of tasks, from drafting emails and creating reports to generating ideas and providing research summaries. For lower-performing employees, who might struggle with such tasks due to a lack of experience or skill, ChatGPT acts as a powerful tool to bridge this gap.

The AI’s ability to provide real-time feedback and suggestions helps these workers produce higher-quality outputs more efficiently. It can guide them through complex processes, suggest improvements, and even offer explanations for better understanding. This form of AI assistance may level the playing field, giving less experienced employees access to a virtual mentor that helps them meet higher standards of performance.

Or it could send them down the wrong path.

So knowledge skill are going to get cheaper?

Not so fast. The biggest gains were seen in lower-skilled folks – and they still needed training. It will make vanilla skills cheaper but, conversely, will likely see a premium for better-skilled folks. The fact that any Tom, Dick, or Harriet can write a business re-engineering document doesn’t make it any more useful to companies. It may seem or feel more compelling but the reality is that the “author” may not understand what they have written and that’s not much use to anyone.

Training: The Key to Maximising Potential

While ChatGPT’s capabilities are impressive, the Harvard study emphasizes that training is crucial to unlocking its full potential. Simply implementing AI tools is not enough; employees must be trained to use these tools effectively. This involves not only technical training on how to interact with ChatGPT but also understanding its best applications and limitations.

Proper training ensures that employees can leverage ChatGPT to its fullest, enhancing their workflow without becoming overly reliant on it. It also helps in fostering a symbiotic relationship between human skills and AI capabilities, where employees can critically assess and refine the AI’s outputs rather than passively accepting them.

Moreover, training helps in addressing any initial resistance to AI tools, building confidence and competence in using ChatGPT. This is particularly important for lower-performing employees who might feel overwhelmed by new technology. With adequate training, they can gain the necessary skills and mindset to integrate AI into their daily tasks effectively.


The Harvard Business School study highlights a significant opportunity for knowledge industries to enhance overall performance through the strategic implementation of ChatGPT. By empowering lower-performing employees with advanced AI tools and providing essential training, organizations can foster a more equitable and productive workforce. This approach not only boosts individual performance but also drives collective success, paving the way for a more innovative and efficient future in knowledge work.