Whether going through a major business transformation, integrating a new system or going through a merger or acquisition, interim managers can be an indispensable resource for businesses going through change.

Interim managers are commissioned at a senior level on an assignment basis and take full line or project responsibility from day one. Not only is hiring an interim manager a big decision, but often the need for an interim is urgent, so it’s important to be aware of the practicalities.

We highlight seven practical matters organisations need to know when hiring an interim manager.

1. It’s important to be realistic with timescales

Whatever the need for the interim, it’s imperative that you set realistic timescales. A typical assignment can last between three and twelve months, depending on the complexity and nature of the business requirement. How long do you expect the transformation project to take? Or how long do you expect to need an interim’s specific skill set for? If employees don’t see action happen in line with what you promised, you’ll fail to get the support you need.

It’s worthwhile asking for the interim’s point of view on the project timelines too. A good interim will be honest if the proposed timescales are unachievable.

2. The best interims get snapped up quickly

Interims are typically hired either directly using the businesses personal network or resources like LinkedIn, or via a specialist interim agency. While it’s important to source the right interim for your needs, don’t let your recruitment decisions linger, the best ones tend to get hired quickly.

3. Interims are paid only for the days they work

Interims are not like permanent employees. Think of them as more of a specialist service provider, where the interim is paid for the service they provide. They are paid a day rate, measured by their experience, skill set and knowledge. You are not responsible for paying their benefits, sick/holiday pay, pension or NI contributions.

Interims can command up to £2,000 a day, depending on the sector, the level of experience required, as well as the duration of the assignment. When agreeing on a rate, consider how the interim will add value to your organisation, rather than allowing the salary of a similar permanent employee to dictate.

4. They don’t need an onerous orientation

Most organisations will have a new employee orientation process for when new permanent members of staff enter the business. The aim is to make them feel welcomed, integrate them into the business and familiarise them with the relevant HR and IT processes.

But interim managers don’t need this same level of introduction. You just need to make sure you have everything in place to allow them to get started from the moment the assignment begins. This will mean informing the team and having information ready that allows the interim to get going right away.

5. You’ll need a statement of work

Agreeing on the aims and timescales of the assignment at the outset is crucial so that interims understand the key objectives of the job. This should form the basis of a statement of work that should be adhered to at all times throughout the duration of the assignment.

6. Don’t forget to communicate your plans to the wider team

An interim’s main focus will be acting in the best interests of the business. They are there to play a specific role and will take a laser focussed approach on outcomes and results. And they won’t be distracted by internal politics or worries over their future in the company.

But bringing an interim into your company doesn’t come without the risk of conflict. And the interim’s job will be much easier if they have the support of everyone in the company. The rest of your employees will play an important role in allowing the interim to deliver the desired outcomes.

So once you have committed to hiring an interim, be sure to communicate your plans to your employees. Make it clear why the interim has been hired and what they are desired to achieve.

7. Interims can help build internal talent… if you let them

Aside from rapid results, interims can really add value by building internal talent within the organisation. Interims will work with internal teams to develop their skills and empower them to strive for continued growth and success.

To support this, you need to ensure the right organisational structures are in place to allow employees to absorb as much information as possible from the interim.

The role of an interim manager is to affect change fast, while also strengthening the internal capabilities of the organisation. Awareness of the practical ins and outs of hiring an interim manager means that when the need arises, you’ll be equipped with the right knowledge to make the most of your investment.

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