17/03/2015

By Norrie Johnston, Recruitment Expert

I’m not surprised by the growing demand for senior interim managers. After all there are some tremendous advantages to using them. To appreciate these you first need to understand what an interim manager is - and isn’t.

An interim manager is an experienced, senior ‘hands-on’ manager, who has been hand-picked to match a company’s needs. In reality this means they have a proven track record working in a particular sector or perhaps tackling the issue that the company needs help with – such as establishing an overseas operation, managing a merger or acquisition, introducing a new technology or say setting up an ecommerce operation.

Typically hired for 6-9 months, interims are adept at walking into often a very challenging situation, where the need is immediate, the timeframe is tight and where they need to make things happen fast.

Not Consultants

Some make the mistake of viewing interims as consultants but they differ in a number of crucial respects. Senior interim managers are cheaper than consultants, they implement as well as advise, they are focused on delivering results fast and importantly they will share their knowledge and experience with the team before they leave an assignment. This is particularly valuable to small and medium sized companies which want to extract every ounce of value from every hire. Interims don’t involve complex contracts or termination costs and they don’t carry the baggage of the ‘consultancy’s way’ of doing things.

Why Not Permanent?

So you can see why interims are proving popular compared to say consultants, but why go this temporary route rather than simply hire a permanent senior executive?
There are a number of reasons for this, the first being cost. With an interim manager you get an awful lot of ‘bang for your buck.’

At one time people had the perception that interim management is a more expensive route to go down. However, once bonuses, NI contributions, pension, health and company car benefits are added to the salary, an executive on £100,000 actually costs more like £175,000. An interim incurs none of these additional costs.

Furthermore many SMEs are run by entrepreneurs who want to be able to quickly respond to opportunities and take big decisions, fast. Interim management is an ideal recruitment solution for such businesses as interims are available immediately and will start delivering results within days. Whereas a permanent employee, by the time they have served their notice period, may take many months to be up and running.

Many entrepreneurs are also attracted by the fact that interim managers are not planning a long term career in their organisation, so they will not be afraid to be candid – telling the business founder what they need to hear. Big ‘entrepreneurial personalities’ may not be used to this but they do value it!

Getting the Most from an Interim

So if a company is going to go the interim route, how do they ensure they get the most out of them? There are 8 simply steps I always share:

• Be very clear when briefing the interim management agency – so that you get the right candidate
• Ensure the interim manager understands your needs from the start
• Agree what you want them to do, the aims and timescales
• Hold regular reviews during the assignment to ensure things are on track
• Ensure your internal team understands what the interim manager is going to be doing, and why.
• Explain it’s a temporary role, requiring a specific set of skills or experience. It’s someone they can benefit and learn from. This will help ensure staff don’t feel threatened and undermine the interim
• The interim manager will have a wealth of experience and a valuable external perspective. These are valuable qualities – use them
• Ensure the proper transfer of skills and knowledge from the interim manager to your team at the end of the assignment

Don’t assume your company is too small to use an interim manager. As the industry figures show, they can work for any size of organisation and are often ideal for an SME that cannot justify employing a full time person but needs an injection of skills or experience in a certain area.