Work-life balance as a Chief Information Officer is a term used for the idea that an individual needs time for both work and other aspects of life (personal interests, family and leisure activities).
Our schedules are getting busier than ever before, which often causes our work or our personal lives to suffer. The compounding stress of Chief Information Officer from never-ending workday is damaging. It can hurt relationships, health and overall happiness.
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The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different lives and different priorities. Work-life balance doesn’t mean an equal balance. There is no perfect balance you should be striving for. At the core of work-life balance is meaningful daily Achievement and Enjoyment.
When employees feel a greater sense of control and ownership over their own lives, they tend to have better relationship with management and tend to feel more motivated and less stressed out at work, which in turn increases company productivity and reduces conflicts.
Companies that encourage work-life balance have become very attractive to workers. These companies also tend to enjoy higher employee retention rates and more loyalty. Promoting balance is beneficial to both employees and companies.
A recipe for successful outsourcing
Success in business relies as much on relationship management as anything, and when it comes to outsourcing this axiom certainly holds. The best outsourced team in the world cannot deliver excellence if projects are "thrown over the wall" with little communication or understanding between the parties.
You would think those of us in the IT world would know this by now.
After all, managing outsourced relationships has been a topic of articles, blogs and conversation since the nineties. Relationships are clearly NOT easy, which explains why everyone from Dear Abby to this newsletter keeps talking about how to handle them.
People naturally develop and work through relationships, but organizations seem to lose that ability. Between planning, flow charts, deadlines, etc., we forget that every project comes down to the people involved. And people are, well -- human. They need to be engaged and involved in their work. They need to feel like a vital part of the team and solution.
Bruce A. Stewart, management advisor and former columnist for Computerworld, wrote that: "Most companies put little time or effort into these (outsourced) relationships..." Yet outsourcing continues to grow, and, Stewart says, "Learning how to deal with the changes outsourcing brings can actually work in our favor." Stewart's article, reprinted on CIO.com, goes on to identify ways to optimize outsourcing relationships.
Our experience has shown a recipe for outsourcing success that closely parallels Stewart's suggestions, and goes a bit further by incorporating accountability as well.
Tips for Successful Outsourcing
- Formalize the outsourcing relationship - Create an organizational chart that shows who reports to whom within the scope of the relationship, and how teams and people relate to each other. Use Skype or other methods to meet regularly, share ideas and celebrate successes. Develop contacts deep into each organization so that cultural understanding is not isolated to just a few people.
- Commit to the relationship - Stewart rightly points out that commitment can only come with trust, but he also notes that, "... a failure to commit shows up as a lack of success--on both sides of the table." He suggests that companies determine upfront that they are committed to establishing trust, and work from there. What you want, ultimately, is an outsourced team that understands company objectives and can contribute initiatives and knowledge.
- Insist on accountability -- on both sides of the relationship - When given ownership of a project, people take responsibility for it.
- And with responsibility comes accountability. High-performing teams set guidelines and deadlines, and hold their members accountable to these. When practiced this way, accountability becomes an integral and positive part of team culture - not something that has to be constantly enforced from the top.
- Focus on the long-term - There will always be short-term obstacles and set-backs. A good outsourcing relationship can survive these when internal and external team members are committed to the same long-term goals and expectations. As long as these continue to evolve together, the outsourcing team remains valuable, bringing its own history and knowledge that contribute to the bottom line.
There are many ways employers can promote work-life balance in office, some of which are: company outings, offering remote working and flexible hours, providing good health coverage, encouraging employee education.
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Empowering employees like Chief Information Officer to take control over their work and home lives can have a profound impact on their job satisfaction and performance, enabling companies to achieve success. Achieving work-life balance is a daily challenge. It can be tough to make time for family, friends, community participation, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, and other personal activities, in addition to the demands of the workplace.
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"Behaviour is ultimately the product of the brain, the most mysterious organ of them all." Ian Tattersall (from Becoming Human.Evolution and Human Uniqueness, 1998)
The question of why we are motivated to certain behaviours is perhaps one of the most fundamental in Psychology. Since Pavlov described conditioning in dogs in his famous 1927 paper, scientists have pondered the origins of motivations that drive us to action. For most of the early twentieth century, behaviourists like Watson & Skinner sought to explain behaviour in terms of external physical stimuli, suggesting that learned responses, hedonic reward and reinforcement were motives to elicit a particular behaviour. However, this does not tell the whole story. In the last few decades, the school of cognitive psychology has focused on additional mechanisms of motivation: our desires according to social and cultural factors having an influence on behaviour. Furthermore, recent advances in neuroimaging technology have allowed scientists an insight into the vast complexities and modular nature of specific brain regions. This research has shown that behaviours necessary for survival also have an inherent biological basis.
The biological trigger for inherent behaviours such as eating, drinking and temperature control can be traced to the hypothalamus, an area of the diencephalon. This article will explore the hypothalamic role in such motivated behaviours. It is important to note that a motivated behaviour resulting from internal hypothalamic stimuli is only one aspect of what is a complex and integrated response.
The hypothalamus links the autonomic nervous system to the endocrine system and serves many vital functions. It is the homeostatic 'control centre' of the body, maintaining a balanced internal environment by having specific regulatory areas for body temperature, body weight, osmotic balance and blood pressure. It can be categorised as having three main outputs: the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system and motivated behavioural response. The central role of the hypothalamus in motivated behaviour was proposed as early as 1954 by Eliot Stellar who suggested that "the amount of motivated behaviour is a direct function of the amount of activity in certain excitatory centres of the hypothalamus" (p6). This postulation has inspired a wealth of subsequent research.
Much of this research has been in the field of thermoregulation. The body's ability to maintain a steady internal environment is of critical importance for survivalas many crucialbiochemical reactions will only function within a narrow temperature range. In 1961, Nakayama et al discovered thermosensitive neurons in the medial preoptic area of the hypothalamus. Subsequent research showed that stimulation of the hypothalamic region initiated humoral and visceromotor responses such as panting, shivering, sweating, vasodilation and vasoconstriction. However, somatic motor responses are also initiated by the lateral hypothalamus. It is much more effective to move around, rub your hands together or put on extra clothes if you are feeling cold. Similarly, if you are too warm you might remove some clothing or fan yourself to cool down. These motivated behaviours demonstrate that in contrast to a fixed stimulus response, motivated behaviour stimulated by the hypothalamus has a variable relationship between input and output. This interaction with our external environment may be a 'choice', however it is clear that the motivation to make these choices has a biological basis.
The mechanics of thermoregulation can be explained by what is sometimes referred to as 'drive states'. This is essentially a feedback loop that is initiated by an internal stimulus which requires an external response. Kendal (2000) defines drive states as "characterised by tension and discomfort due to a physiological need followed by relief when the need is satisfied". The process begins with the input. Temperature changes are picked up from peripheral surroundings by thermoreceptive neurons throughout body which sense both warmth and cold separately. An electrical signal (the input) is then sent to the brain. Any divergence from what is known as the 'set point' - in this case a temperature of approx 37° - will then be identified as an 'error signal' by interoceptive neurons in the periventricular region of the hypothalamus. Armed with these measurements and temperature signals being relayed from the blood, the hypothalamus then launches an appropriate error response. This includes motivating behaviour to make a physical adjustment, e.g. to move around or remove surplus clothing in an attempt to control your temperature.
This type of feedback system in the body is common. Other systems necessary for survival such as regulation of blood salt and water levels are regulated in a similar way. However, the processes that motivate us to eat is much more complex.
Humans have evolved an intricate physiological system to regulate food intake which encompasses a myriad of organs, hormones and bodily systems. Furthermore, a wealth of experimental research supports the idea that the hypothalamus plays a key role in this energy homeostasis by triggering feeding behaviours. Controlling energy balance is of crucial importance and eating is primarily to maintain fat stores in the event of food shortage. If fat cell reserves in the body are low, they release a hormone called leptin which is detected as an error signal by the periventricular region of the hypothalamus. This then stimulates the lateral hypothalamus to initiate the error response. In this case, we start to feel hungry which in turns initates the somatic motor response by motivating us to eat.
Since the hypothalamus also controls metabolic rate by monitoring blood sugar levels, in theory we seem to have a similar feedback loop to temperature control. However in practice this is not a reality. The main difficulty in maintaining energy homeostasis is that motivation does not rise solely from internal biological influences. Cultural and social factors also play an important part in motivation about when, what and how often to eat. In western culture, social pressures to be thin can override the need to eat and in extreme cases like anorexia the drive state becomes reversed. The motivation is no longer to eat because they are hungry but is instead not to eat so they do feel hungry. This corruption of the reward system is well documented and is associated with delusions of body image, a concept which is also linked to the hypothalamus and the parietal lobe. Problems can also occur if an individual receives over stimulation to eat. The prevalence of obesity in today's society is testament to this fact.
When a Chief Information Officer spends the majority of its days on work-related activities and feel as if they are neglecting other important components of their lives, stress and unhappiness result. Thus, you must learn to draw a clear line between your personal and work time and set clear expectations with your colleagues.