While your permanent employees are the backbone of your business, interim managers are an effective solution for the increasing requirement organisations have for filling key skills gaps, especially during periods of transition and transformation.
There are currently around 20,000 interims in the UK, but how do you find the right one for your business?
Here, we outline a step-by-step guide to hiring an interim.
1. Do you really need an interim?
There are many situations which may warrant the need for an interim manager. Often, it is in response to a change or transition. For instance, you're implementing a new system and you need someone with the necessary product knowledge to ensure a smooth transition. Or, it may be in response to a crisis. A senior manager leaves unexpectedly and you need someone to hold the team in place until the permanent role is filled, or a failing project needs someone with a fresh perspective to rescue it.
Whatever the situation, ask yourself if the skills you require already exist within your organisation. If the answer is no, then you could benefit from an interim manager.
2. Build the business case
Once you've identified the need for an interim manager, you'll want to establish a strong business case with clear objectives and outcomes. What is it that you hope to achieve? How does this fit within the organisation's wider goals? And in what timescales do you need to see results?
A clear business case will not only be a useful exercise for getting your stakeholders on board, but will also allow you to establish the skill set you require from an interim.
3. Determine your ideal candidate
Make a checklist of the skills and attributes the interim needs to possess to get the job done. Do you need someone with specific sector or product knowledge? Or do you need someone who can bring fresh thinking into the business?
Getting it right matters. And the more you consider exactly what you require from an interim, the more likely you are to find one who will help you to achieve your desired outcomes.
Typically, an organisation has two options for recruiting an interim.
The first option is to recruit someone directly. This could be through your own personal network. If you know someone already who you trust and fits the bill, you may opt to engage in a conversation about bringing them on board. LinkedIn can also be an incredibly useful resource. And it's worth asking around, as many interims get their assignments through word of mouth.
The second option is to use a specialist interim agency. They have access to a large talent pool of cross-functional experienced experts, offering you both quality and choice. But beyond this, an agency can act as a valuable partner by helping guide you to the best fit for your strategic goals.
Whichever route you take, make sure you meet with the individual face-to-face, as you would with any permanent member of staff.
5. Agree key objectives and set clear expectations
Interims can come into a business and affect change right away. But only if they have a clear brief of the aims - and timescales - of the assignment.
Take the objectives you set out in your business case and develop them into a statement of work to guide the interim. And while interims can be left to get on with things right away, not needing the same level of management as a new permanent member of staff, a board member should be in place to oversee from an internal perspective.
6. Communicate plans to your employees
Crucial to an interim's success is the presence of support from everyone within the business. Bringing someone new into the business doesn't come without the risk of conflict, especially when going through a transformation and anxieties are already heightened.
This makes it imperative that you communicate to your employees your plans to bring in an interim. Make sure people understand why the interim has been hired and the outcomes they've been brought in to deliver. If everyone in the company is on board, the fewer obstacles the interim will have to overcome, and the faster they can make an impact.
Interim managers have a unique ability to make a significant impact in an organisation from day one. But success is reliant on clearly setting out what you want to achieve and the skills and attributes you need from an interim to enable that. As well as making sure the organisation is prepared and on board with their arrival.