The evolution of the CIO: an evolving role
Technology has become ingrained in almost every part of business life – no matter the industry or sector.As employers have learned to survive in unstable market conditions, they’ve come to realise the value of having an innovative and business-focused chief information officer (CIO).With technology advancing at an unprecedented pace, the traditional responsibilities of the CIO have expanded, with their role becoming increasingly important to the success of an organisation. In today’s business world, CIOs are required to not only manage IT infrastructure and systems, but also to drive forward and align technology initiatives with overarching business goals.The changing roleHistorically, the CIO's primary focus has been on overseeing the implementation and maintenance of technology systems within an organisation. However, as businesses have become more reliant on technology for their operations and growth, the role has evolved to encompass a broader set of responsibilities.Today, CIOs are expected to be strategic business partners who are there to help enhance operational efficiency and leverage technology to create competitive advantages – maximising the return on the company’s investment in technology. In other words, it’s now essential for a CIO to focus not only on cost savings, but on using technology to add value and increase revenue for the business.CIOs are now required to collaborate closely with other c-suite executives to align technology initiatives with overall business objectives, identify opportunities for digital transformation, and mitigate potential risks associated with technology adoption. It’s an exciting era, as CIOs now have the chance to be transformational leaders who can harness technological advancements and data to consolidate their tech stacks and gain efficiency.Challenges in staying up to dateStaying current with the latest technological developments can be a considerable challenge. The rapid pace of innovation, coupled with the proliferation of widespread AI technologies, presents a daunting task for CIOs looking to stay informed and ready to address the potential impact these technologies can have on their organisation.According to digital adoption platform, Userlane, and leading consultancy, PwC, almost two thirds of CIOs surveyed were concerned that the state of the economy will affect their digital transformation plans. But at the same time, 62% plan to deepen their investment in technology, illustrating just how important technology integration now is at leadership level.One of the biggest challenges is offering digital services that are safe and secure for the consumer, which makes cybersecurity a number one priority for the majority of CIOs; their responsibility is to protect the systems and data that shareholders and stakeholders entrust them with.As cyber threats become more sophisticated, CIOs must continually evaluate and implement robust security measures to safeguard their organisations' data and infrastructure.Understanding the capabilities of AIGiven the uptake in generative AI across the workplace, it’s no surprise that AI is expected to shape the future of business. Large language models (LLMs) will continue to play a part in generating documentation on business processes, designing training programmes, and writing and rewriting code.AI has been hotly anticipated by technology departments for a while, but has only recently reached a point where its potential benefits, capabilities, and enhancements, have become clear. CIOs are being asked to learn what AI is capable of and how it can be harnessed to competitive or strategic advantage across the business – similar to the adoption of any other technology.More recently, generative AI is offering an entry point for companies looking to spearhead investment decisions. Rather than manually researching information, CIOs have the ability to use generative AI to summarise markets, telling them where to look and where to harness department energy.Managing business needsThis transformation now sees CIOs juggling evolving responsibilities, to shape their departments. This requires a thorough understanding of their organisation's strategic objectives – helped by their c-suite role – as well as the ability to identify and prioritise technology initiatives that will best support those objectives.As the role grows, it’s important for CIOs to develop and maintain strong relationships with other business leaders and departments, gaining insights into their challenges and opportunities, and leveraging technology to address them. As a company grows, so does the amount of data, which makes having an innovative leader and strong IT department even more essential.We’re seeing CIOs steering the ship, promoting continuous improvement within their teams, while further encouraging the exploration of new technologies to drive meaningful change to stay competitive, relevant, and secure.The sooner companies realise the true value of the CIO position, the better their chances of success.To find a talented tech professional for your company, or to take the next step in your career, contact our specialist technology recruiters now.
Eight soft skills salespeople can adopt to improve their performance
When you are trained for a new job you expect technical skills to be at the top of the list, but in sales, the best tools you can have are your skills. Of course, hard skills such as using computer systems are still essential, but making yourself a valuable asset has gained greater importance to employers recently.Soft skills are increasingly emphasised in most industries, however, salespeople rely on them to be able to build rapport with customers. Products are easier to buy from someone that the customer likes and trusts - if you come across as disrespectful or pushy, this reflects badly on the product you are trying to sell and business will in turn suffer.Here are some soft skills that every salesperson can adopt with the right motivation.A growth mindsetMaking yourself valuable to a company, in a world where change is rapid, you need to change yourself at times too. If you become stuck in your ways and unable to adapt, you will lose your value every time your skills become obsolete. Don’t be satisfied with just reaching your sales goal and only focusing on numbers; aiming to become better will allow you to exceed those goals. Personal development is one of the most important aspects.ConfidenceThis can mean the difference between a good salesperson and a great salesperson. If you don’t sound confident in what you’re saying, customers will not believe that you know what you’re talking about or that you honestly believe what you’re saying. If you don’t have confidence, there are many techniques to try out. For example, writing down what you need to say before you make a phone call can make you feel more prepared, and this will come across when you speak to the customer.PassionHaving ambition and drive for selling can come from your passion and enjoyment. Loving what you do is the best way to be better at what you do in any field – your positivity will shine through and you’ll be compelled to be better by practising and your talent will come naturally to you. Passion can be good for teamwork, which is increasingly important in sales. Your passion can influence that of others in your team and create a more social, happy and effective sales team.Effective communicationIf you want someone to give you their time, you need to earn it by communicating well. A salesperson needs to be a good communicator at all times. Knowing how to speak to different people is vital – you would never speak to a customer the same way you would speak to a friend or colleague. Imagine you are talking to someone very important - which your customers are - like your boss, for example. Be polite, honest, clear and concise. Active listeningWhen you’re talking to a potential customer, you shouldn’t be dominating a conversation, no matter how badly you want to reach your sales target. People will appreciate it if you listen to what they need, not just what you want to brag about – although it may be tempting when you’re in a hurry. Showing them that you are listening can be as simple as nodding and making eye contact when face-to-face, or simply saying “yes, I agree” over the phone. Having empathy is in itself a soft skill which will take you far in sales.KnowledgeThis may sound obvious, but you need to know what it is you’re selling and who you are selling to. It also helps to understand why a customer would want to buy something from you. Understanding your customer requires building and maintaining a relationship or just a good bit of research. Touching back on the confidence point, knowing what you are doing will generate more trust in what you are saying. These skills do not just benefit you as a salesperson but as a member of a team. A business can thrive more with a team of people with these soft skills, than just a team with technical skills. Each of these skills is transferable to any profession and can be useful in your social life as well.Soft skills are not as easy to adopt as hard skills because they are seen as innate personality traits, but they can be learned, and they can also be measured by employers.Another benefit of having soft skills is that they can’t be replaced by technology – these are people skills.If you're looking for your next sales role or a talented candidate, find your nearest Reed office.
How to juggle a side hustle with a full-time job
Pursuing personal interests and supplementing income are often key drivers for entrepreneurs, however the challenge lies in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. With the lines increasingly blurred for many between work and personal life, it can be difficult to switch off, especially as our indispensable smartphones often play dual roles in private and business use.Whatever happens, never let your side hustle impede your ability to do your main job, even if it is not your main passion. If you give it a chance, it may even turn into your dream job. Here's how to seamlessly manage both:Establish boundariesThe first step to successfully balancing a side hustle with a full-time job is to get organised and establish clear boundaries. Create distinct spaces for your job and side hustle, both physical and digital. This separation helps in switching between roles without feeling constantly pulled in different directions. Divide your workspaceInvest in a dedicated workspace for your side hustle, whether it’s a co-workspace or even a corner of your home. This physical separation can serve as a visual cue, helping you mentally transition into your side hustle, after coming back from your day job. Let tech take the strainUtilise technology to create digital boundaries, creating specific folders, calendars, and apps for your side hustle. This is a very important step. It will sharpen your focus when the time is right, reducing the risk of being distracted by work-related notifications. Manage your timeConsider allocating specific time slots for your side hustle, and make sure it doesn’t and cannot bleed into your work hours. This disciplined approach will ensure that you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Adjust your schedule for better efficiencyTime is your most valuable asset and optimising your schedule is crucial to managing both job and side hustle effectively. Here’s how: Prioritise tasks Identify your most critical tasks and prioritise them. This will help avoid the stress of having to meet simultaneous deadlines in your main job and side hustle. Use your peak productivity hours to your advantage Determine your peak productivity hours where you can work at your best, and reserve them for high impact tasks. This will ensure that you’re making the most of your focused energy on both fronts. Learn to delegate Recognise when it’s appropriate to delegate tasks, whether at your day job or working on your hustle. Effective delegation can make your workload easier, which contributes to a more balanced lifestyle. Can a side hustle get you into trouble with your employer?Balancing a side hustle with a full-time job requires a delicate dance to avoid potential conflicts. Here’s how to ensure that you’re not jeopardising your career or compromising your wellbeing. Review your employment contract Before you even think about starting a side hustle, you need to carefully review your employment contract, as some companies do have strict policies regarding side businesses. Understanding these restrictions will ensure you avoid violating any agreements. Be transparent with your employer Honesty is always the best policy. If your side hustle aligns with your skills and doesn’t conflict with your job, then you could in fact discuss it with your employer. Having transparency can foster trust and potentially lead to more flexibility in your schedule. Manage conflicts of interestEnsure your side hustle does not and cannot compete with your main job, as this can create situations where your loyalty is divided. Clear communication and ethical considerations are essential in avoiding these potential problems. It’s crucial to understand the legal aspects of having a side business, no matter the size. If you still don’t understand or are in doubt, please seek legal advice as this could be the difference between running a successful business or running into problems which could cost you both jobs. Additional strategies for successMake sure you establish realistic goals for both your job and side hustle. This will ensure you do not overcommit, as if you do it can lead to burnout and decreased overall productivity. Many people dismiss their wellbeing when they're busy, but it's important to take regular breaks, eat well, exercise and relax in order to recharge and prevent burnout in the long term. Balancing a side hustle with a full-time job is no easy thing to do, but with strategic planning, good organisational skills and a mindful approach, it is fully achievable.While you may only consider your main job as a means to pay the bills, never forget the invaluable experience it provides, perhaps in communication, teamwork or discipline. These sought-after skills will stand you in good stead for running any future enterprise. Looking for professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit for your business? Or perhaps you’re seeking work with a forward-thinking, flexible employer? Get in touch with one of our consultants today.
The need for cultural intelligence in the workplace
The topic of cultural intelligence is receiving increased focus. Managers must appreciate and honor the different cultures in their teams, made up of people from diverse backgrounds.As more and more people are working overseas, professional environments are becoming increasingly culturally varied. It's important for employers to recognize that the unique viewpoints of their employees can contribute to the company's success.The ability to understand, communicate, and collaborate across different cultures is vital for business expansion and the attraction of talented professionals.Understanding Cultural IntelligenceCultural intelligence means being able to interact well with different cultures. In a global setting, workers need to collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds, promoting clear understanding and communication.Professors P. Christopher Earley and Soon Ang identify four key components of cultural intelligence (CQ). These are:Drive (motivation): the capacity to focus attention and effort towards understanding and operating in multicultural contextsKnowledge (cognition): encompasses the broad range of general cultural knowledge an individual possessesStrategy (metacognition): pertains to an individual's mental ability to gather and assess cultural knowledgeAction (behaviour): it is the ability to use knowledge and show appropriate words and actions in different cultures.Bear in mind, cultural sensitivity is vital for shaping your employees' perception of your company culture. To comprehend and value diverse cultures within your team, bridge the divide between traditions, customs, disciplines, and nationalities. This will facilitate teamwork, enhance productivity, and elevate your organization's reputation.Why is it significant in the workplace?As per a research conducted by School for CEOs, 76% of high-ranking business executives lack cultural intelligence. They struggle to make their teams feel included and a sense of belonging if they fail to understand different cultures.CQ is crucial in business as it aids in team building and fostering diverse viewpoints. Here are some of the primary reasons why cultural intelligence is significant in the workplace:Enhances productivity and innovationCultural intelligence plays a vital role in enhancing productivity and promoting creativity. When team members comprehend each other, they collaborate effectively, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.This cultivates a positive work environment where individuals contribute a range of ideas and perspectives. This diversity aids in addressing intricate problems by utilizing their varied experiences and viewpoints.Promotes effective communication and collaborationCultural intelligence improves communication in the workplace, especially in large organizations that might neglect individual perspectives and suggestions.Those possessing cultural intelligence are adept at closing communication gaps, preventing misinterpretations, and fostering trust in the workplace. This is essential in a global economy, where businesses often engage with international partners, clients, and stakeholders.CQ empowers employees to build stronger relationships with a diverse range of stakeholders. This leads to improved business results, lasting partnerships, and a reduced chance of communication errors.Enhance client relationsAs businesses expand and their strategies surpass local confines, they must cater to a diverse customer base. Cultural proficiency is vital in understanding and meeting the needs of varied clients.Recognizing different cultures and their requirements enables teams to provide superior services, leading to happier and more loyal customers. Cultural proficiency allows companies to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes that could jeopardize client relations and damage their reputation.Promotes inclusive work environmentsIt is crucial for businesses to adopt diversity and inclusion. Establishing workplaces that are inclusive and where every worker feels appreciated and respected necessitates cultural awareness.Companies can nurture a setting that values diversity and encourages individuality. Fostering a sense of acceptance and understanding accomplishes this. This supportive environment subsequently leads to enhanced employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity, and retention.Cultivating Cultural CompetencePromoting cultural diversity in the workplace requires everyone, especially those in leadership roles responsible for strategy and innovation, to develop cultural intelligence.Here are some strategies to foster and encourage a multicultural viewpoint:Helping employees grasp the basics of different cultures, such as values, beliefs, customs, and etiquette.Observing and mimicking how people from various cultures use their eyes, body, and personal space.Practicing empathy and curiosity when interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints.Seeking feedback and learning from mistakes in cross-cultural situations.Providing opportunities for cultural interaction and collaboration, like mentorship, training, and social events.Are you looking to attract top-tier talent to your organization, or considering a career change? Connect with one of our seasoned consultants today.
10 strategies to boost Your business in 2024
No matter if your business is new or established, it's important to assess how well it did in the previous year. Moreover, setting goals for the forthcoming year is equally significant.A checklist can help guide you through the challenges and opportunities of starting fresh.By crafting a yearly strategy, you can ensure that your business is ready for success and longevity. An effective plan aids your business in enhancing efficiency, adapting to market trends, tackling obstacles, and capitalizing on opportunities.Getting ready for the forthcoming year instills a sense of commitment and devotion in your team. You achieve this by working together towards a shared objective and vision. It helps you track your plan, evaluate performance, make smart choices, and find ways to improve.It also fosters enthusiasm within your team about the future and the project you're collectively working on.Use the following checklist to evaluate your current status and ensure the upcoming year is a success:Reflect on the past yearBefore moving on to the next year, it's important to thoroughly assess how well you did in the past year.This includes analyzing sales and revenue figures, scrutinizing customer feedback, and assessing any other important metrics.Revisit your goals from the start of the year, and identify which strategies were successful and which ones were not. This review is crucial for learning and helps you create your goals for the next year.Establish accurate goalsIt's crucial to establish well-defined objectives for the upcoming year. You can utilize SMART objectives, an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance, rather than simply saying "enhance sales," you can set clear goals and aim to augment sales by 10% in the initial quarter. Implementing these goals will steer your company's actions and choices, leading to superior results.Formulating well-defined objectives for the forthcoming year is vital. You can employ SMART goals, which represent specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.For example, instead of expressing "enhance sales," you can aim to augment sales by 10% in the initial quarter. These goals will offer direction for your company's actions and choices, culminating in superior outcomes. Moreover, they will assist in managing resources and making decisions concerning time, finances, and resources for optimal outcomes.Build a strategyAfter you have clearly defined your goals, you can begin to outline the steps needed to achieve them. This could involve launching new products or services, breaking into new markets, or improving your customer service. Your strategy should act as a roadmap to achieving your goals.Manage your financesFinancial management is crucial for businesses. Review your income and expenditure from the previous year, and create a budget for the upcoming year. This is a vital task for the new year.It's essential to account for all potential costs, including salaries, marketing expenses, and operational costs.Conduct market researchGaining insight into your prospective customers and competitors is vital for shaping your business's marketing and sales approach.Studying the market enables you to make informed decisions, positioning your business for future success.Assessing hazardsEvery business faces hazards, whether they're financial, operational, or related to the market. By identifying these, your company can formulate plans to mitigate their effects.By adopting a forward-thinking approach, you can overcome challenges and sustain business activities.Invest in team developmentAllocating resources to your employees' training and development enhances their skills, boosts morale, and increases productivity.This is vital in 2024 as numerous firms are struggling with a skills shortage. Enhance your team's abilities to bridge gaps and facilitate your employees in acquiring new skills for career progression.Improving customer engagementMoving forward, it's essential to adopt strategies that not only captivate your customers but also enrich their experience.This might include improving your customer service, launching loyalty programs, or enhancing your online presence. Starting a conversation with customers and asking for their feedback on what they want is a good first step.Review and update business processesEfficient business processes can enhance productivity and reduce costs. The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to reevaluate existing processes and pinpoint possible improvements.By adopting new technologies or streamlining procedures, you could transform the way your business operates. Visit the resources and tools section on our website for valuable tips, tools, and guidance that could help with this.Prepare for unforeseen circumstancesUnanticipated events can interrupt your business. That's why it's crucial to have a contingency plan. This will aid you in managing these obstacles and maintaining seamless operations.This could involve setting up an emergency fund or developing a crisis management plan.Remember, an effective plan is flexible and adaptable. Regularly check and change your plan to make sure your business stays on track for success next year.Need a skilled expert for your team or want a new job? Contact our experienced advisors right away.
Diversity and inclusion: should weight be a protected characteristic in the workplace?
Workplace diversity and inclusion are expanding to consider factors beyond traditional categories like race, gender, and age. One emerging topic is whether weight should be a protected characteristic, sparking debate about societal perceptions, legal frameworks, and the potential impact on employees and employers. Advocates argue that this level of protection can contribute to creating a more inclusive work environment. Weight-based discrimination, commonly known as ‘weightism’ or ‘sizeism’, is a prevalent issue affecting individuals of varying body sizes, both inside and outside of the workplace. By acknowledging weight as a protected characteristic, organizations signal their commitment to combatting discrimination, promoting fairness, and creating a workplace culture that values diversity in all its forms. Addressing weight-based discrimination in the workplace Weight-based discrimination can have detrimental effects on an individual’s mental and physical well-being. Employees who experience weight-related bias may face challenges such as lower self-esteem, higher stress levels, and increased absenteeism. Employers that recognize this can work towards building a workplace culture that values well-being and actively combats the negative impact of weight stigma. The issue can equally apply to those who are overweight or underweight. Those who are either may be sensitive about their appearance and underestimated by their employer and colleagues – particularly in terms of highly physical roles that require strength or stamina. It’s worth remembering that bias of this kind can be just as damaging for organizations as cases of disability, race, and gender discrimination, and requires employers to act with care, particularly at the hiring stage. The question of whether weight should be solely considered as a protected characteristic or as part of a broader category, such as disability, presents a nuanced challenge when creating policies. Striking the right balance between acknowledging weight-related discrimination and avoiding causing unintended distress/offense, requires consideration and consultation with experts in both employment law and diversity and inclusion. Advantages of weight-based discrimination laws Combatting weight discriminationEmployees facing bias due to their weight may encounter challenges in career advancement, recruitment processes, or even day-to-day interactions. Recognizing weight as a protected characteristic could serve as a proactive measure to address and eliminate such discriminatory practices, and even influence positive attitudes beyond the workplace. Promoting inclusivity and diversityBroadening the scope of protected characteristics can contribute to an increased inclusive and diverse work environment. A workplace that acknowledges and embraces employees of diverse body sizes sends a powerful message about acceptance and equal opportunities for all. This, in turn, can lead to improved morale, productivity, and overall job satisfaction. Aligning with evolving social normsAs societal norms evolve, so too should our understanding of diversity and inclusion. Considering weight as a protected characteristic reflects a commitment to staying attuned to the changing dynamics of societal expectations. This adaptability is crucial for organizations striving to create environments that resonate with a wide range of employees. Counterarguments for weight-based discrimination laws Practical challenges in implementationWhile every step should be taken to protect employees from weight-based discrimination, critics argue that implementing weight-based policies may pose practical challenges. Unlike characteristics such as race or gender, weight can fluctuate, making it difficult to establish clear guidelines. Determining when weight-related decisions are discriminatory or based on other factors may require subtle evaluations. Additionally, concerns may arise regarding the potential for abuse or misuse of protections, with individuals falsely claiming discrimination based on weight. Balancing individual responsibilityAnother perspective emphasizes the importance of individual responsibility in managing one’s health and well-being – critics contend that certain aspects of personal choices, such as diet and exercise, contribute to body weight. However, this perspective is flawed in that many factors such as mental health issues and diseases/conditions/medication can make weight loss difficult or near impossible. Potential impact on employer autonomySome argue that designating weight as a protected characteristic might impede an employer’s autonomy in making decisions that they deem necessary for their business. Concerns about interference in hiring practices, especially in industries with specific physical requirements, raise questions about the extent to which protection should be granted. Weight-based legal frameworks: the way forward Evaluating existing anti-discrimination lawsExamining current anti-discrimination laws is a crucial step in determining the necessity of adding weight as a protected characteristic. Existing discrimination laws based on disability or appearance could encompass weight-related issues. Crafting inclusive policiesInstead of solely relying on legal designations, organizations can proactively develop and implement inclusive policies that promote a positive workplace culture. This includes providing education on body positivity, and mental health, and promoting overall well-being. Encouraging dialogue and trainingOpen communication and training programs can play a vital role in addressing weight-related concerns. Encouraging a workplace culture where employees feel comfortable discussing diversity and inclusion can pave the way for a more understanding and supportive environment. Ultimately, the pursuit of workplace diversity and inclusion requires ongoing dialogue, collaboration, and a commitment to building environments where individuals of all backgrounds feel valued and respected. As organizations continue to evolve in response to societal changes, they can expect to be challenged to find innovative and equitable solutions that promote a more inclusive future. Looking to source diverse individuals for your team? Contact one of our specialist consultants today.