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Intro to AI Webinar

Sarah is a dedicated member services coordinator at a thriving association. For years, she's been the heart of her team, known for her personal touch in every interaction. Recently, there's been talk of AI adoptions and automations, bringing a mix of intrigue and unease. Sarah is excited about experimenting with AI and automating some of her monotonous tasks. Sarah is also scared about what this means for her job in the future. Will she be given more responsibilities? Will her team be downsized? Will she lose her job? Sarah, like many in her field, is at a crossroads, facing the duality of excitement for the future and concern for her role in an AI-driven landscape.  

This story is not unique. The advent of AI is rewriting and will continue to rewrite the script of traditional job roles and structures. As AI promises efficiency and innovation, it simultaneously poses questions about job security and the evolving nature of work. In this time, the role of Human Resources and association leadership becomes crucial. They stand at the helm, guiding their teams through uncharted waters, where fear of the unknown must be navigated with empathy and foresight.  

Let’s dive in and explore how organizations can transition effectively, addressing the emotional and practical aspects of AI integration. From the challenges of restructuring and job displacement to the opportunities for growth and new roles, we'll delve into strategies that can help associations like Sarah's not just adapt, but flourish in an AI-enhanced future. 

AI and Job Security in Associations 

The advancement of AI in the professional world is stirring a pot of mixed emotions. The primary concern gripping the minds of many association professionals is the fear of job displacement. It's the kind of concern that turns coffee breaks into hushed strategy sessions. "Will AI make my role obsolete?" This fear isn't unfounded, as AI's prowess in automating tasks, from data entry to customer queries, is already evident and it’s advancements are moving rapidly. The thought of AI taking over roles that have been the bread and butter of many employees is a daunting prospect.  

However, it's crucial to sift through the layers of this fear to uncover the reality of the situation. AI's integration into associations isn't a straightforward script of replacing humans with machines. It's more of a complex narrative involving the restructuring of jobs and the emergence of new roles. Yes, certain tasks might fall into the capable 'hands' of AI, leading to shifts in job responsibilities. In some cases, this could mean the hard truth of job loss in areas where automation overtakes human intervention.  

Yet, it's not all a tale of doom and gloom. AI opens doors to realms previously uncharted by associations. While it might streamline routine tasks, it also paves the way for roles that require the irreplaceable ingenuity and empathy of the human mind. Think of AI as a partner in progress rather than a replacement – a collaborator that takes on the monotonous so that human creativity and strategic thinking can flourish.  

In navigating this evolving landscape, associations are not just dealing with a technological upgrade but a paradigm shift in work culture and structure. The key is to approach this change with a blend of realism and optimism, preparing for the changes AI brings while embracing the new opportunities it unfolds. 

Related: 6 Questions Association Leaders Can Ask AI to Improve Operations Learn More >

Leadership's Role in Adapting Organizational Structures and Job Roles to AI

With the more prevalent adoption of AI across associations, leadership within these associations is faced with the intricate task of reshaping not just their technology but also their organizational structures and employees’ job responsibilities. This transformation demands leaders who are not only visionaries but also adept communicators, capable of guiding their teams through this period of significant change.  

Adapting Organizational Structures: The first step for leadership is to critically evaluate and adapt the organizational structure to align with AI integration. This goes beyond simply adding AI tools into the existing framework. It involves a thorough analysis of how job roles and departments interact with AI, identifying areas where AI can enhance efficiency and creativity, and what impact that will realistically have on employees. Leadership must question traditional hierarchies and workflows, envisaging a structure where AI and human skills complement each other. This might involve creating value adding work for employees that AI has freed up some of their time, transitioning employees to new roles that serve your evolving association better, and/or, unfortunately, deciding which roles will be completely eliminated and which employees will no longer have a place in your association.  

Redefining Job Responsibilities: As AI takes on more routine tasks, leadership must also work with Human Resources to redefine job responsibilities to leverage the unique capabilities of their human workforce. This involves identifying skills and tasks that cannot be replicated by AI, such as creative problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and strategic planning. Leadership should ask “What kind of value adding work could we do now that we have more time? What are the things we always say we want to do, but never get to do because we run out of time?” Answering these questions will go a long way in redefining job roles. Leadership needs to communicate these shifts clearly to the staff, helping them understand how their roles will evolve and the new opportunities this creates for professional growth and development.  

Evaluating Employees for the AI-Enhanced Future: Leaders must undertake a comprehensive assessment of the skills and capabilities of their employees, focusing on how these can be aligned with an AI-enhanced work environment. This assessment should look beyond current job descriptions to identify latent talents and untapped potential. It's about asking, "What unique skills do our employees possess that AI cannot replicate?" and "How can these skills be honed and redirected towards areas of strategic importance?" Crucial to this evaluation is fostering a growth mindset among employees, encouraging them to view the integration of AI not as a threat, but as an opportunity for professional development and career advancement. This mindset is key to thriving in an association where AI plays a significant role. Leadership should also look ahead to identify the skills that will be most valuable in an AI-driven future. By anticipating these future needs, associations can begin preparing their workforce through targeted training programs and professional development initiatives while also realistically taking note of which employees will not thrive in the evolving vision of their association. Human Resources should work with leadership to determine professional development opportunities for this new AI future.  

Transparent Communication: Perhaps the most crucial aspect is how leadership communicates these changes. It requires a balance between honesty about the potential impact of AI on certain roles and a reassuring vision of the future. Leaders must address the workforce's concerns about job security and displacement, providing clear information on how they plan to manage these changes. This includes discussing upskilling opportunities, potential role transitions, and how each team member fits into the new organizational structure. Effective communication also involves listening to employees' feedback and concerns, ensuring that the transition is a collaborative process.  

Flexibility and Adaptability in Leadership During AI Evolution: As associations evolve with AI integration, a crucial attribute for leadership is flexibility and the willingness to pivot strategies as needed. The journey with AI is dynamic, often requiring leaders to adapt to new information and technological advancements rapidly. Embracing a mindset that is open to change and experimentation is key. Leaders should be prepared to adjust their approaches, whether it's modifying AI applications or rethinking organizational structures and job responsibilities in response to new AI-driven efficiencies. Leaders should be ready to explore unconventional paths, challenge established norms, and be open to learning from both successes and setbacks. This might involve revising job roles, creating new jobs, or providing more resources and training to employees that align with the evolving capabilities of AI technologies. By staying flexible and adaptable, leaders can ensure that their associations not only keep pace with AI advancements but also leverage them to drive innovation and growth.  

Leadership in associations must take a proactive and empathetic approach in managing the transition to AI. By thoughtfully adapting organizational structures, redefining job roles, evaluating employees, maintaining transparent communication, and remaining flexible during AI evolution, leaders can navigate their teams through the challenges of AI integration, turning potential disruptions into opportunities for growth and innovation. 

Related: Leading into the Future: Why Leaders Must Embrace AI Training Learn More >

Case Studies and Hypothetical Scenarios of AI Integration in Associations and the Impacts on Employees   

The integration of AI in association operations is a transformative journey that reshapes not only how services are delivered, but employees and teams job responsibilities and focus. Here are a few scenarios where AI has been effectively integrated, demonstrating its tangible impacts and benefits.   

  1. Member Services Enhanced by AI: An association restructures its member services department by integrating AI to handle routine inquiries and data management. This shift allows the team to focus on more complex member engagement strategies and personalized services, ultimately enhancing member satisfaction.  
  2. Event Planning Revolutionized: Another association rethinks its event planning team structure. By employing AI for logistical coordination and attendee data analysis, the team reallocates human resources towards creative aspects of event planning, like thematic development and personalized attendee experiences.  
  3. Marketing Transformed: An association’s marketing department integrates AI for data analysis and content creation, reshaping roles to focus on strategic decision-making based on AI-generated insights. This leads to more targeted and effective marketing campaigns with a smaller, more specialized team.  

By successful AI integration, it is clear to see how each one of these teams could be taken to the next level and the responsibilities of their roles be a welcome evolution.   

Related: The Ultimate AI Toolkit for Associations Learn More >

Embracing the Gig Economy in the Age of AI 

The reality is that AI adoption will eliminate some of the workload for most jobs. So, what do you do when you identify new tasks and skilllsets that are needed on your team? The gig economy offers a flexible solution for filling gaps and addressing needs that arise from AI adoption. Engaging gig workers, skilled freelancers who can provide specialized services on a project basis, allows associations to maintain agility and adapt quickly to changing needs without the long-term commitments of traditional employment.   
Key Aspects of Leveraging the Gig Economy:  

  1. Flexibility: Gig workers offer the flexibility to scale workforce up or down as needed, matching the ebb and flow of project demands.  
  2. Specialized Skills: Access to a diverse pool of talent with specialized skills tailored to specific projects or tasks.  
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Potentially lower costs compared to full-time employment, as associations pay only for the work needed.  
  4. Rapid Deployment: The ability to quickly onboard gig workers for immediate needs, bypassing the lengthy processes of traditional hiring.  
  5. Reducing Workload on Full-Time Staff: By outsourcing routine or specialized tasks, full-time employees can focus on core, value-added activities.  
  6. Testing New Roles: The gig economy allows associations to test new roles and projects without committing to long-term positions.  

The Role of AI Specialists in Associations 

As associations increasingly embrace artificial intelligence, the conversation often turns to the idea of hiring dedicated AI specialists or even turning existing roles into AI specialist roles. These roles are often seen as pivotal in guiding and optimizing AI adoption within organizations. However, there is another side of the coin that views bringing in dedicated AI specialist roles into an organization as a hinderance.  

Pros and Cons of Dedicated AI Roles:  


  • Expertise and Focus: Having a dedicated AI specialist or team ensures focused expertise within the organization. This can accelerate AI adoption and integration, as specialists navigate the complexities of AI technologies and guide effective implementation.  
  • Strategic Alignment: An AI specialist can align AI initiatives with the organization's overall strategy, ensuring that AI efforts are technologically sound and strategically relevant.  
  • Training and Support: AI specialists can provide training and support to other staff members, facilitating a smoother transition and greater acceptance of AI tools.  


  • Potential Dependency: Heavy reliance on AI specialists may lead to a lack of AI literacy across the broader team, with staff becoming overly dependent on specialists for AI-related tasks and decisions.  
  • Cost and Resource Allocation: Hiring specialized roles can be costly. Associations must balance the benefits against financial investment and consider if resources could be more effectively allocated.  
  • Risk of Siloing: Dedicated AI roles can lead to the siloing of AI knowledge and skills, potentially hindering the spread of AI literacy and the integration of AI across various departments.  

While dedicated AI roles can bring significant advantages to associations in terms of expertise, strategic alignment, and support, they also come with challenges. Issues such as potential dependency, cost, and the risk of creating knowledge silos must be carefully considered. As associations continue to evolve with AI, finding the right balance in team structure and capabilities will be key to maximizing the benefits of AI while minimizing potential drawbacks.  

Related: Sidecar Sync Podcast Learn More >

Become a Part of the AI Revolution

AI's impact is undeniable, particularly in reshaping jobs and organizational structures. This journey demands a thoughtful approach, balancing the exciting prospects of efficiency and innovation with the realities of job restructuring and potential displacement. Leaders play a critical role in this transition, guiding their teams through changes with transparency and empathy, while fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. The key is not just in adopting AI but in evolving with it.  If you're searching for a meaningful AI learning opportunity, whether individually or to offer your team, consider exploring our AI Learning Hub for Associations, an on-demand AI course designed for the busy association professional.  

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Kat Davis
Post by Kat Davis
January 30, 2024
Kat Davis is the Marketing and Events Associate at Sidecar. She has a BA and MA in Theatre. She is passionate about the intersection of technology and creativity and believes that is where the true innovative magic happens. When she is not working, you will most likely find her spending time with her two sons and husband, catching a local show, or curled up with a good book.