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What is interim management?

Interim management is the temporary provision of management resources and skills. Interim management can be seen as the short-term assignment of a proven heavyweight interim executive manager to manage a period of transition, crisis or change within an organization. In this situation, a permanent role may be unnecessary or impossible to find on short notice. Additionally, there may be nobody internally who is suitable for, or available to take up, the position in question.

Read More: Uses of interim management

There are a number of different business situations that could result in the need for an interim manager. Typically these could be situations such as crisis management, sudden departure, illness, death, change management, managing change or transition, sabbaticals, MBOs and IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and project management. The functions of an interim manager are almost endless, thus the scope of an interim manager's skill set is quite unique. The interim management concept has now taken root in the UK, Germany, and Belgium, and is spreading elsewhere, most notably in Australia, the US, France, and Ireland. In Spain recruitment increased by 68% in 2011, according to Michael Page Interim management, and since 2013 there is a first association called "Association Interim Management Spain". In Nigeria, the Institute Of Corporate and Interim Management has been approved by The Federal Ministry Of Education and established under Federal Government Decree No. 1 of 1990, to promote Corporate and Interim Management practice in Africa.

Read More: The interim management value proposition

There are several factors that make the interim management offering increasingly popular and cost-effective to clients' organisations. These factors are characterised as a ‘value proposition’ that interim managers offer to their clients.
Although there is some variation at the margins of interim management (with temporary workers, freelancers, contractors and consultants) the following factors are typical of the interim management value proposition:

  1. Interim managers can be in place within days as opposed to weeks or months which is essential when time constraints are paramount. Being practiced in engaging promptly with the situation, they become effective quickly upon joining a client's organisation. Because of their experience and expertise, interim managers also conduct and complete assignments effectively and with due speed.
  2. Interim managers typically operate at a senior level in the client's organisation, often being sensibly over-qualified for the roles they take on. They often bring skills and knowledge not otherwise in place, to address a specific skills gap or problem. Their experience and expertise enables them to be productive within a short time and make a noticeable impact from the outset, working and contributing towards coping with challenging situations.
  3. Unencumbered by company politics or culture, interim managers provide a fresh perspective and are able to concentrate on what is best for the business. Being independent operators, they are able to contribute honestly and unbiased without constituting a threat to the incumbent management team.
  4. Rather than taking on a purely advisory role, interim managers are managers who will take responsibility for and manage a business or projectmanage a business or project in such ways that best serves the company’s interests and strategical goals. They expect to be held accountable for results and by being instrumental in an assignment’s successful delivery, they give clients the peace of mind that the interim manager has stewardship of the project in hand.
  5. Operating at or near board-level gives interim managers the authority and credibility to effect significant change or transition within a company. Unlike a ‘temp’, they are not just there to ‘hold the fort’. They actively add value to the client's organisation as a result of their expertise and approach, even when the work and the decisions to be made are challenging and difficult.
  6. Interim managers add value by using their skills and expertise to help deliver an outcome, a solution, a service or mitigate risks that provides a meaningful ‘return on investment’ (ROI) to a client’s organisation.
  7. Interim managers maintain high professional standards because their future work relies upon referrals and a successful track record. They therefore have a stake in the success of the assignments they undertake.

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