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The 12 Commandments of Interim Management

by Alastair Lechler on 05 May 2017

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With the shift to more of a gig economy, increasing numbers of people are exploring a new direction and switching to an interim or independent career. Organisations are dealing with more rapid change and increased competition, meaning quick access to highly skilled, flexible talent has never been more important.

We’ve already covered the career and lifestyle considerations you need to make when thinking about changing to interim management. But what about the practicalities of the job? A long time contact of mine, Nick Tree, is a seasoned interim manager who thrives in pressurised situations, where he needs to hit the ground running and quickly mobilise change programmes. Nick has kindly compiled for BIE his ‘12 Commandments’ for anyone looking to make the switch. Here they are: 

1. Experience
Ensure you have extensive experience and a track record of successful achievement in your chosen field of expertise. Clients will usually expect you to be a highly qualified, subject-matter expert when they hire you!

2. CV

Produce a full-data CV that will clearly illustrate to prospective clients where you gained your experience and what your achievements were. Don’t worry if it extends to several pages. Warning! Be factual, truthful and prepared to be interviewed about those achievements in more depth.

3. Interim Recruitment Agencies

Seek out, build and maintain a good working relationship with the interim agencies that operate in your field of expertise. Select those that are responsive and professional. The standards vary a lot these days – even of those listed in the top 20 of the IIM’s league table. Keep in regular contact because people move on!

4. Networking

Interim agencies are a good route to market but your own network of contacts is likely to provide you with more opportunities, so work hard to keep in touch with them and develop new relationships – and not just when you are looking for work!

5. Accountant

Get yourself a good accountant who will not only file your VAT and Corporation Tax returns to HMRC and requisite documents to Companies House, but also provide you with up-to-date advice on tax efficiency and other tips.

6. HMRC

Keep abreast of HMRC guidance on ‘allowable expenses’ (things are not like they used to be!) and the impact of IR35 regulations. Adherence will help you steer clear of potential risks!

7. Working From Home

You will probably need to work from home from time to time so set aside a dedicated space where you can establish your ‘office’. Ideally it should be in a separate room where you can withdraw from the distractions of normal family life and concentrate on what needs to be done. 

8. Due Diligence

At the start of an assignment always do some due diligence to learn if the objectives that you were given to start with are accurate. More often than not they won’t be!

9. Objectives

Once your due diligence is completed, produce a document with a set of SMART objectives for your assignment and get them agreed with your assignment sponsor. Produce a periodic update to illustrate your progress and any unforeseen challenges. Offer this update to your sponsor even if not actually requested. It will not only demonstrate your professionalism and focus to your sponsor but also help them to keep their superiors informed. You can also use the same document to keep your Agent updated, if the assignment came through them.

10. Client Company

Once on assignment, learn about the company culture and get a good working knowledge quickly about its products and services but be careful how far you ‘integrate’, especially on a lengthy assignment. Try to keep a professional distance without seeming aloof and steer clear of company social events. It can contravene your status under IR35 regulations (yes, really!) - apart from anything else that might happen!

11. Reputations 

If the assignment came through one of your agencies it is likely that they will have worked hard to establish a ‘preferred supplier’ status with your client company so, all the time you are working there, you are not only responsible for your own reputation and credibility but also theirs. It pays to protect both! 

12. Testimonial

When your assignment has been successfully completed ask for a written testimonial from your assignment sponsor, signed on company paper. It will be extremely useful to help you establish your track record as an interim and you may be asked to provide it as a reference for future assignments. 

A Guide to Interim Management

Topics: interim management

Alastair Lechler

Written by Alastair Lechler