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Latest Issue: Nov/Dec 17

Making the most of interim management for your short-term business needs

Quite often businesses find they need additional but short-term management resources. Especially when the business need is urgent, bringing in an interim manager can be the ideal solution. The advantage is that on a temporary basis you can get a heavy-hitter with extensive experience.

Interim management includes consultancy as well as project management. It is the accountability and responsibility that interim managers have for successful analysis and delivery of a suitable solution to business problems, which makes their assignment lifecycle stages uniquely atypical.

It is important to understand this cycle when hiring and working with an interim manager.

Stages of the Interim Management lifecycle

Following engagement, Interim Managers examine and assess the current situation and the requirements of the varying stakeholders. They diagnose any issues that may be present and then formulate a detailed proposal which outlines the assignment’s objectives and plan. Responsibility is then taken to propose a solution most likely to be effective. For a ‘gap assignment’ such a proposal may simply outline how they will be a ‘safe pair of hands’.

Following the proposal, the Interim Manager is involved in implementation: taking responsibility for managing the intervention, project, or solution, tracking progress and conducting periodic feedback reviews with the company. The implementation stage often highlights an Interim’s expertise, accountability and effectiveness.

Exiting an assignment involves the Interim Manager approaching project end to ensure objectives have been met and the company is satisfied. This stage can involve ‘knowledge handover and training’, determining and sourcing ‘business as usual’ successors, and ‘sharing lessons learnt’ in the process.

If you are hiring an Interim Manager then you’ll need to develop an internal framework to ensure that you find the right person with skills you need.

Setting up an Interim Management framework

1.Who do you need to know?

Knowing your sector and your market, and the roles you may need an Interim for, is the place to start. Look for a number of interim providers, ask for recommendations and speak to interims you already admire – even if they aren’t in your sector.

2.Build Relationships

Establish and build a relationship with the top five suitable interim providers and get a feel for what they can offer. The provider needs to understand what you require when the time comes. Once they do you will have the confidence they can find you the interim you need.

3.Policy and Procedure

Ensure you have an established company policy and procedure for emergency staffing. A contingency plan for special circumstances can minimise the damage of any key staff losses.

4.Insurance

Does your company have insurance, for example key-man insurance, to cover an Interim hire? If you don’t, review insurance providers to see if this is something worth considering.

You have an interim requirement – what now?

1. Present a concise brief to your chosen Interim Management provider or preferred supplier and have clear and direct face to face communication. This will give the agency a fair chance of understanding the brief and therefore being able to select high quality candidates.

2. It’s important to specify the skills and characteristics you need in your Interim. Hone in on the detail to ensure your hire will be a good team and cultural fit.

3. Set realistic deadlines and milestones for the hiring process.

4. Write a clear job description and list the goals that need to be achieved and give them a workable timeframe. Ask yourself what do you want the company to look like after the Interim’s intervention?

5. Take care deciding the assignment length. Is it for one month or a six to 12months timescale?

6. Make sure your interim provider is suggesting candidates who genuinely fit your brief. You don’t too be fobbed off with someone who happens to be available and appears to tick the boxes.

7. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you drive the daily rate down, you won’t get the quality people you need.

8. Consider how you are going to manage your Interims and to whom they will report. Identify someone who can establish regular time to speak with the Interim so there is supportive and constructive two-way communication. Put a system in place to ensure the quality of deliverables required from your Interim.

Successfully hiring the right Interim manager can provide seamless continuity of your business activities, it can manage effective change and deliver potential growth opportunities - both measurable and unmeasurable long after the assignment has ended.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Clive Hyman FCA is founder of Hyman Capital Services offering expertise in due diligence and managing change in business including raising equity and debt capital, mergers and acquisitions, interim management, board management and governance, deal structuring, and company turnaround.