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Temporary Manager or Interim Manager – Which?

Interim Manager or Temporary Manager – Which?

In today’s climate, where rapid change is part of life and industry requires more highly skilled, adaptable people who are able to bring experience and change to the table, the demand for interim management is growing at double digit rates year on year. Despite this though, a recent poll indicated that more than half of CEOs haven’t used interim managers and there remains a remarkable amount of confusion about what interim managers are and how they’re different from temporary managers.

Temporary Managers

Temporary managers are likely to be “in between permanent roles” and be interested in opportunities that are likely to stretch them and add weight to their CV, so that they can get a better permanent role next time. However this usually implies more risk for clients; and a longer time until value starts to be delivered. Whilst they may be fine working for an organisation that they’ve worked in for years, how will they fare in an entirely different place without their usual “support systems”? How credible will they be? Will you be able to rely on them to represent you appropriately within your organisation or to your customers or suppliers? Are their interpersonal skills up to it? Will they deliver the results?

Interim Managers

In contrast, interims are immediately available senior executive managers who have become interim managers as a career choice. They are independent, highly flexible individuals who run their own companies and operate with professional indemnity insurance. They are un-biased by company politics and must have outstanding communication and interpersonal skills to successfully deliver results in a wide variety of different organisations. Their credibility and technical expertise has to be unquestionable because they're expected to "hit the deck running" and deliver results not just recommendations. Some say they are senior executives and consultants – “all rolled into one!”

Since interim managers can cost anything between $ 1000-$ 2000 per day and interim management assignments can last anything from three months to two years, clients and interim management service providers alike, can’t afford to take risks. In fact, only individuals who have track records that demonstrate they have the ability to thrive in fresh environments and deliver an excellent return on clients’ investments can be considered for such roles.

Interim management assignments are therefore more likely to be higher risk / higher value / higher profile roles. For example often organisations will utilise an interim manager when they need immediate support for a turnaround or when there is a sudden departure of a key executive; or perhaps to release another for non-routine tasks as the business goes through a period of discontinuity. Often though, interim managers are brought in because of their track record for delivering improvements in their particular specialist discipline or industry; for example to deliver synergies following an acquisition or merger or to introduce best practise processes and organisational structures.


Temporary managers may be appropriate for lower risk projects, but there is a big difference between temporary and interim managers. Interim managers are executive “big hitters” with track records of delivering results; who specialise in high value / high risk assignments and approach them with a very practical “hands on” “get the job done” style. They’re more expensive, but for higher profile projects they’re a low-risk solution when it comes to implementing change.

About the Author: Julia Hadley & David Jones work for Executive Interims - Supply Chain Interim Management and Consultancy Practice: specialist providers of supply chain interim management services.

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