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The Interim Manager's / Executive's Role

Despite being an absolutely superb resource for many companies 'Interim Management' has an identity problem. In a 'Mori' pole survey in 2001, when U.K business leaders in large conmpanies were questioned, astonishingly, the majority maintained that they had never utilised an Executive Interim Manager. The proportion is significant including such 'Captains of Industry' as Chairmen, CEO's and Managing Directors, representing some of the U.K.'s largest organisations.

Those companies who have utilised an 'Interim Manager', were, for very vital reasons; such as 'taking hold of the reins' after a very sudden departure or for the 'Interim' to manage an acquisition or to 'manage' a closure or sell-off. Interim Executives have also undertaken challenges for crisis/turnaround management of a business. They are utilised too, for management development and preparation of teams where a business faces an uncertain future.

Increasingly, however 'Executive Interims' are being hired to deal with more difficult situations, as companies seek very experienced, very professional 'Executive Interim Managers. They merely don't just advise, as is the role of a typical 'consultant' - but actually - 'do the job'. For example an 'Executive Interim' can be part of an organisation for 2/3 years, turning around a business in the role as a Managing Director.

Even though they prove their worth in so many vital ways, 'Interim Managers' can experience totally blank looks from many of their business colleagues, when they say that they work as an 'Interim Manager.' Most people in industry don't understand the full scope of 'Interim Management'. Many people think 'Interims' are brought in when someone is off sick or when someone has been fired. Some assignments require that 'Interim Managers' are in the role of menoting management, encouraging them to understand their resposnibilities to other people in the company and helping teams to to co-operate between departments. A great deal of experience and even greater understanding of how people relate to each other is needed to do that kind of thing. 'Executive Interim Managers' have an abundance of those skills.

Sometimes it's difficult for people to understand the seniority of the position of 'Interims' as the very word seems to imply 'temporary' put with the word 'Executives' though, certainly helps to outline the seniority of the position. It is necessary to get across to the 'Captains of Industry' just how capable Interim Managers are to businesses. The best Interims have worked at the highrest levels, they are used to the boardroom and arte always over-qualified for the assignments they take on, having undertaken more senior roles previously in their careers, unlike other recruits they often 'step down' to responsibility, rather than 'stepping up.' They are, therefore, immediately effective.

The most important area that requires addressing is the mindset of the'client' if they haven't previously been conversant with 'Interim Management' - they need to understand that they are buying an 'Independent Professional'

The more usual way to source an Interim Manager / Executive is through a specialist Agency and these vary considerably. Some agencies can have as many as 5,000 potential candidates on their databases. But some are 'maintained' more readily than others with potential 'Interims' being vetted and met with face-to-face, thus making it easier to identify the more genuine 'Interim Managers.'

Interim Management has tended to evolve steadily in the past 20 years and is still evolving. Younger Manager / Executives are entering the role and more women too are moving into 'Interim Management' covering a range of functions. However anyone intending to take on 'Interim Management' as a career should ensure they have a range of capital to tide them over between assignments.

The advantages of companies taking on an Interim is that they don't become embroiled in company policies. They are not concerned about 'manoeuvring' to further their career. The only worry being, completing the job and adding value. People pay a great deal of money for their services and they need to see the results.

The pre-requisite of being an 'Interim Manager' used to be redundancy. Many fine Executives lost their jobs during often ill-conceived 'clear-outs' of the nineties. Attitudes have changed, nowadays fewer Interims conceive of being employed by someone for life! They now relish the Interim career. Fortunately too, more and more @Captains of Industry' can recognise the qualities of the people they engage in these 'project-based' roles. Permanency is not recognised as part of the deal.

Interim management should be seen as the way forward. It is risky, tough, rewarding and can be thrilling for people engaged in this work, there is no looking back!

About the Author: J Hadley writes on behalf of Executive Interims - Supply Chain Practice. See:

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