Interim management

Interim management

Interim management is the temporary provision of management resources and skills. Interim management can be seen as the short-term assignment of a proven heavyweight interim executive manager to manage a period of transition, crisis or change within an organization. In this situation, a permanent role may be unnecessary or impossible to find on short notice. Additionally, there may be nobody internally who is suitable for, or available to take up, the position in question.


Although there are historical antecedents (like the Roman dictatorship), the concept of interim management is usually believed to date back to the 1970s, when, in the Netherlands, permanent employees were protected by long notice periods and companies faced large costs for terminating employees. Hiring managers on a temporary basis was a solution.


There are several factors that make interim management the popular resourcing option that it has become today:

# Speed. Interim managers can be in place within days as opposed to weeks (essential when time constraints are paramount).
# Experience. Interim managers will be more than qualified for the position they are taking on and will therefore be stepping down in responsibility. They will also have past experience of similar challenges to the ones they are about to face. They should be equipped to have an immediate effect and be productive from the outset, minimising the risk of things going wrong and, more importantly, ensuring success.
# Objectivity. Unencumbered by any previous involvement in company processes or staff relationships, interim managers should provide a fresh perspective and be free to concentrate on what's best for the business.
# Accountability. Rather than taking on a purely advisory role (as a management consultant would), interim managers are responsible and accountable line managers who will implement and manage a business or project in their own right.
# Effectiveness. Operating at or near board-level gives interim managers the authority to effect significant change or transition within a company — unlike a temp, they're not just there to ‘hold the fort’.
# Commitment. Interim managers are typUnicode|ically committed to an interim career. For them, this is never just something they are doing until a suitable permanent position is found. A good interim manager should enjoy the challenge of the different assignments, take great pride in maintaining the highest standards while realising that they are only ever as good as their last job.

There are a number of different business situations that could result in the need for an interim manager. Typically, these could be situations such as crisis management, sudden departure, illness, death, change management, managing change or transition, sabbaticals, MBOs and IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and project management.

The interim management concept has now taken root in the UK, Germany, and Belgium, and is spreading elsewhere, most notably in Australia, the US, France, and Ireland.In 2002, this concept has been developed further by an international recruitment agency to give companies even more flexibility. They introduced Management on demand an intelligent combination of interim management and permanent recruitment on an international level.

The seven phases of an Interim Management assignment

*Phase 1 : Select the manager and confirm the assignmentThe interim manager should be able to quickly adapt and analyse, to work autonomously, to be result oriented, stress resistant, communicative, etc.

Also he must clearly understand the objective of his mission, potential deviations, means at his disposal and the company he gets involved with.

*Phase 2 : Prepare the assignment Preliminary meetings should be used to gather information on the market, the company, the operational rules, the current businesses and the staff. Once on the job, he will have to quickly get his own opinion on many issues and persons; thus, all the information previously gathered will make this work easier for him.

*Phase 3 : Operational start of the assignmentThe new manager should prepare his arrival well to ensure that his he gives an impression of authority and serenity right from the beginning. He will have to quickly implement the first levers of power: set up a management committee, build a circle of trustworthy people who will be his sources of information, etc...

In this third phase, he quickly imposes his mark by setting the first rules and by taking some safe decisions.

*Phase 4 : Observe, analyse … and navigate at sightWhen the circumstances are favourable, the transition manager takes some time to study the environment he is in charge of before determining how to achieve the defined goal.

Mostly he must act quickly though. He may even have to take important decisions right from the first day. In that case he must do everything at once and to the best of his abilities - manage, observe and analyze the company in order to be able to get to the following phase as soon as possible.

*Phase 5 : Action plan definitionThe action plan must be a mix of ideas from the interim manager, bringing an external point of view and expertise, and the best ideas from his staff who will feel valued when their opinion has been taken into account. Sometimes circumstances need a quick reaction and priority changes. It is very important though that some actions with strong impact are carried out as soon as possible.

*Phase 6 : Execution and communicationOnce the interim manager has established his leadership and the action plan has been announced, he needs to prove himself. The action plan must remain the axis of the assignment. It can be adapted if some actions prove irrelevant or unfeasible. The regular publication of its progress is vital to show the team as well as the client the progress made to reach the objective.

*Phase 7 : Power transferOnce the objective has been achieved, the interim manager finishes his mission by transferring to the succeeding management all his knowledge regarding the entity he was in charge of, the progress report of the action plan and his advice for the future.

10 Steps to Resourcing an Interim Manager

*Step 1 - Be clear about why you need an interim manager and define your objectives in a written brief. This helps providers to fully understand your requirements and enables them to find the most appropriate interim executive for your organisation

*Step 2 - Secure budget approval before engaging a service provider. Interim management is a high-value solution to address key projects or meet urgent leadership needs. Understanding the benefits the assignment will bring is essential to setting and approving an appropriate budget prior to hire

*Step 3 - Ensure the key sponsor of the interim executive controls the hiring process and is involved in the selection. Nominate a point of contact responsible for providing ongoing, swift and responsive decision-making (the world of interims moves fast!)
*Step 4 - When selecting an interim provider ask for proof of their credentials: details of past assignments, their client base, insurances and processes

*Step 5 - Insist on a face-to-face briefing with the interim provider prior to engagement. This is a people business, and you need to meet the people with whom you are working

*Step 6 - Expect a carefully selected shortlist and small number of CVs, who the service provider knows or has/will interview. You are paying them to find the right person, not inundate you with CVs

*Step 7 - Ensure that your provider gives you written Terms and Conditions, Pricing Schedules and the specific details before signing the contract

*Step 8 - Expect a full documentation pack upon contract including notes of reference checks

*Step 9 - Expect the provider to keep in touch with you and the interim once the contract is up and running, with regular feedback and guidance

*Step 10- Expect an end of assignment report, to help with your internal audit and governance and gain any last insights from the interim.


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