A Career In Interim Management?

Interim Management

The term interim has lost its meaning over the last few years. Its definition has merged with that of a contractor and temp, even though they have distinct differences.

Definition of an Interim

An interim can best be described as someone who is engaged to deliver objectives within a defined timeframe. This individual should have the ability to go into an organisation, identify the problem/challenge to be tackled and produce a plan of action.  It is then the role of an interim to support the organisation through successful implementation of that plan whilst leaving a legacy, whether it’s up-skilling incumbent employees or putting in place new systems and processes, to ensure the change implemented continues to add value after their departure and is therefore sustainable.

What makes a good interim?

A good interim is someone who is passionate about making a difference. Someone who is able to quickly gain a picture of the organisation, stakeholders, culture and objectives at hand. Once they have formed the picture, they are able to adapt their style to the environment in which they are working in order to gain buy-in allowing them to deliver within that environment.

They have the ability to articulate themselves to their client and other stakeholders with clarity, simplifying complex issues whilst providing reassurance that they are capable of turning the situation around.

They will provide regular updates on their progress and address issues as soon as they arise ensuring they are escalated where appropriate.

They are not attached to receiving praise and accolades for the work they complete. Instead, they are focused on transferring knowledge to incumbent employees as required.

They are not interested in and do not allow themselves to be pulled into internal politics. They are aware that one of the benefits of being an interim is the ability to remain objective and impartial.

Who makes a good interim?

People who tend to be successful at interim management are typically similar in attributes and motivations.

Typically individuals that craft successful interim management careers or transition comfortably into the interim market from permanent roles have similar motivators. They are all driven by challenge and are comfortable in unclear and sometimes chaotic environments.

In these environments they are focused on creating calm and supporting organisations and teams to achieve a more stable state.

They steer clear of politics but are sufficiently politically astute to handle relationships with difficult stakeholders and gain buy-in.

Cultural Fit

It takes more than the right skill set and track record of delivery for an interim to be successful in an assignment. If they are not culturally suited to your organisation it becomes difficult for them to adapt and gain buy-in from stakeholders.

It is key to not only test technical competency when assessing an interim but to also test their ability to adapt to the culture of your organisation.

What interims shouldn’t do?

Interims are paid at a premium to deliver for their clients. Some of the early warning signs which may indicate you may not have the right interim solution include:

  • Inability to work autonomously or with your team
  • Withholding information and reluctance to share knowledge or upskill staff
  • Someone that causes disruption in an ineffective way either by isolating key stakeholders or getting involved in workplace politics

Benefits of hiring the right interim

The right Interim will:

  • Bring with them knowledge that is lacking in your organisation
  • Undertake difficult or political projects
  • Establish clear procedures and processes
  • Share knowledge with existing staff and upskill them to work with the new procedures and processes
  • Will leave the organisation with a thorough handover, ensuring that work can be carried on and taken forward.

An organisation has much to gain by hiring the right interim manager, and much to lose by hiring the wrong one. Investing time at the start of the process is key. It is vital to understand the objectives you, as the client, need to deliver, to ensure the interim is clear of their deliverables and can demonstrate their ability to deliver is key.

For candidates, the choice to move to the interim market should not be made casually. It is key to understand the pros and cons of working as an interim: spend time to think about your motivators and future aspirations before committing to making the transition.  For many, however, the challenges of work in the interim market are more than matched by the rewards.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the role of an interim manager, please get in touch with us.


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