Businesses should expect to call upon interim managers as senior, professional directors and managers on a fee and fixed term basis to achieve high impact on specific roles or objectives. Interims are skilled professionals operating at a high level, so finding the right person for the assignment is a critical task. Getting it wrong could prove painful.
Unfortunately, inexperienced user organisations can fail to source the right interim for the work, often because basic mistakes are made during the procurement process. This may be due to a lack of understanding of the skills required to fulfil an assignment and/or recognition that the delivery is provided by an independent service vehicle. Successful delivery by the interim must start with a successfully applied process by the client.
A professional, ‘career interim’ requires a skill and experience balance that is quite different from the permanent employees that will work with them, to provide the client with what they need. Major change is more often than not, the order of the day and this is expected to occur in short timeframes. The application of this skill and experience on behalf of the client is facilitated by the necessary line authority being an integral part of the agreement with the interim, enabling the delivery of assignment objectives to become fully owned by the interim.
The client organisation needs to be confident that the freelance interim can do what they say they can do. Third party validation of track record is an important element of the assessment.
Tony Evans from the Institute of Interim Management highlights some of the ‘dos and don’ts’ of recruiting an interim manager:
• Do treat it as a supplier discussion when meeting a prospective interim — you need to view an interim as a specialist service provider.
• Do remember to view it as a commercial relationship not an employment relationship
• Do agree clear objectives on what you’d like the interim manager to achieve and ensure this is understood within the organisation as well as by the contracting parties and stakeholders.
• Do consider an interim as a return on investment, not as a tax on the business
• Do involve key decision makers and stakeholders in the appointment process
• Do perform basic background checks, are they independently accredited?
-Look at all of the elements that make up their career
– Can they deliver?
– Check they have done what they say they have done — experienced delivery is everything
•Do allow your interim to shake things up – essentially they should seriously challenge the status quo (be a loose cannon)!
• Do be realistic on timescales — a good interim will be honest if the proposed time scales are unachievable
• Do give your interim space to deliver on objectives
•Do remember that you’re appointing someone partly as a ‘fresh pair of eyes’
• Do remember your interim will behave independently, they’re not there as an employee to take management instructions
• Do remember that a good interim will have a significant influence on the direction of the company
• Do make sure the whole organisation is well briefed before appointing an interim
• Do consider professional accreditation of their interim status to be certain they aren’t just after a permanent role
• Don’t treat interim management as a permanent recruitment exercise
•Don’t choose a shrinking violet who’s just going to sit in the background and do just enough
• Don’t try to be over prescriptive
• Don’t choose an interim who you think is going to simply be a ‘yes man’
• Don’t be closed to feedback
• Don’t appoint an interim without seeking their ‘bona fides’, including accreditation — ideally, make sure it’s independent. If using an agency, ensure you get beyond the “[i]we vet all our interims ourselves[/b]” statement – bear in mind that the provider does have a commercial interest. Independent accreditation can be verified if they are an Institute of Interim Management member.
• Don’t dump your interim on the organisation without warning — you need to make your employees aware of the interim’s role within the company. This will help the interim hit the ground running.
Taking all of these points into consideration during the sourcing process will ensure that your prospective interim manager has the right skills for the assignment and can deliver the agreed objectives successfully.