August 6, 2018 Written by: Paul Fleming

According to recent findings from the Institute of Interim Management’s 2018 annual survey, many industries are benefitting from the use of interim expertise.

The 2018 report – which uses data provided by 2,272 interim managers – shows that the private sector accounts for 65% of work, with 31% dedicated to public sector and just 4% to the not-for-profit or charity industry.

The research also shows that around 25% of all interim management is already performed at Board level. Available at short notice and with experience and specialist skills not always found in-house, interim leaders can deliver change and improve efficiency quickly.

At TS Grale, we are keen to promote the value that interim leaders can bring to a business. During reorganisations where wholesale change is needed, the challenge is to elicit improvements but without compromising day-to-day operational priorities. This is often when an interim leader can have the most value as a “change-agent.”

Perception Vs reality

The utilisation of interim leadership can be one of great sensitivity for obvious reasons, with the perceived disadvantages being that:

  • Cost may be prohibitive, especially if the duration required is unclear. There could be concerns that the ROI will not be met or justify the significant outlay.
  • Negative connotations associated with bringing in an external resource; current staff may worry they are unknowingly part of a potential restructure and doubt if an interim leader is actually best qualified for the job.
  • Trust and loyalty perceived as an issue. Can an interim post be relied upon with sensitive information? Likewise, will staff ask why someone external can be trusted but, seemingly, someone internal cannot?
  • Passion and commitment may be questioned during these challenging times. Could a temporary leader move on to a better, well-paid job before a project is complete, and do they really care about outcomes like existing staff do?

Too often, senior management teams can be unaware of the value this effective pool of talent has in supporting them to achieve strategic objectives.

The benefits of interim leadership

As executive search specialists, we can offer guidance on processes and identifying candidates for interim Director, MD, and CEO-level posts including, for example, areas such as Operations, Supply Chain, or Project Management. Generally, interim leaders provide skills that can’t always be found within a business, and here’s why:

Expertise

This is a vital issue. Current senior managers need to maintain as much normalcy as possible in the operational side of the business, and often there is a skills gap that needs to be plugged.An interim leader can work independently to specific objectives during this critical time – using knowledge and expertise that doesn’t exist internally – without the need for close supervision.

Credibility

An interim leader oversees these types of projects regularly. With experience comes an authority that you don’t usually garner internally (fairly or unfairly). These individuals have experience in achieving organisational sustainability and growth, can add value, and grapple business challenges quickly. Working directly with the Board and offering counsel can affect change immediately. 

Accessibility

Usually, an interim leader is brought in for a set period – say three to nine months – to oversee a project. Their sole focus is on this and this alone, with no distractions linked to operations. They are accessible to senior executives, directors, and other managers and have time to collate information and report back on progress.

Independence

Crucially, an interim leader can bring a fresh perspective with no political baggage. They will come to the table as an objective bystander who can analyse the situation fairly and objectively without any prejudices, personal agendas, or partialities to individual departments or teams. They do not pose a threat, and so their bipartisan honesty is usually valued. 

Agility

A good interim leader should be adaptable and quick to react as timelines flow and goalposts inevitably shift. They will not have everyday distractions and demands that existing managers will have placed upon them. Also, they are immediately available to work, meaning they can be in post within days rather than months when speed is most vital.

Success

Interim leaders should have an exceptional track record in industry. They have experience in bringing the kind of results that customers want. Core to their work is the need to deliver, or from a reputational point of view, they may struggle to get referrals. This level of pressure can be useful in achieving objectives effectively. The cost of failure dwarfs the price of hiring an interim post. 

Transience

An interim role is usually created or filled provisionally during a critical period, with the intention that the post-holder will move on to the next project soon afterwards. During this transition, interim leaders can perform knowledge transfer, ensuring organisational sustainability long after they have gone.

TS Grale is committed to promoting the value of interim management; we help our clients to attain their business objectives by carefully sourcing top interim leaders. To discuss your specific requirements, please get in touch to explore this further.

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