What is interim management?


I’ve been an interim manager for several years. For me it is a genuine and fascinating career choice where I can exploit my skills, competences and experience to the full and deliver effective outcomes for my clients.

I regularly get asked “What is Interim Management?

Interim Management is an industry standard term for the use of senior professionals, such as directors, executives and managers, engaged to fulfil specific roles or deliver specific objectives on a fixed term basis.

Currently wikipedia.org  defines interim management as “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.”.

What I have found over the last decade, is that interim managers are skilled professionals, typically used at short notice (often needed yesterday) for short and medium term assignments, typically operating at a high levels (or in roles requiring gravitas) within an organisation for high impact purposes. These interim managers help organisations lead business change, drive core business objectives and relieve pressured management teams during times of need.

An interim manager is able to bring a breadth of experience and skills plus objectivity to facilitate prompt results.

Interim managers are used across virtually every sector and business function in both the private and public sectors.

Interim managers operate on a freelance basis and usually work through their own limited companies. Therefore interims are not temporary employees, but are professionals in business on their own account, with the risks and rewards that implies. They are responsible for their own arrangements for holiday, pension, health insurance etc, and will carry professional indemnity insurance.

There are so many aspects of interim management that I relish, that makes it such a fascinating career. The Institute of Interim Management (http://www.iim.org.uk/) have detailed differentiating “hallmarks” of professional interim managers. These are 1) High-impact, 2) Independent, 3) Professional, 4) Senior, 5) Transformational, 6) Elastic expertise, 7) Time focused. Certainly all the interim managers I have worked with have encompassed these “hallmarks”.

I particularly relish the transformational assignments that focus on activities related to change, transition, business improvement, crisis management and turnaround. Often taking on assignments that others have previously failed to provide expected outcomes, such times have demanded combined depth and breadth of expertise in the sector and my project management discipline. Amazing job satisfaction!

The Interim Management Association (IMA) also defines the interim manager:

  • A top-level independent executive or project manager.
  • An expert in their field.
  • A high level performer with a track record of quantifiable achievement.
  • A possessor of drive and energy.
  • A perceptive individual capable of adapting to new environments and delivering results.
  • Available immediately.

So it is probably not surprising that increasing numbers of business leaders are today relying on interim managers (especially as we have a troubled economic climate). They view interim managers as a safe pair of hands and a more cost-effective solution than bringing in management consultants.

I hope this provides a suitable response to the question. Look forward to your comments.

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2 responses to “What is interim management?

  1. Fair comment. However, I think that it is also worth drawing a distinction between those who have actively chosen Interim Management as a career option, rather than those who have passively fallen into Interim Management, merely as a stop-gap until a decent ‘permanent’ role appears.

    From the Interim Manager’s perspective, this distinction might not seem important.

    But from the Client’s perspective, this distinction is probably paramount. Because a professional Interim is far more likely to establish and observe the appropriate exit criteria for the assignment.

    • I agree with your comments.

      Many former full time employees have found themselves in the awful predicament of being unemployed, with uncertainty in the global economy recruitment processes appear long, drawn out, often taking 3 to 6 months. These people have been forced to the world of contracting as a means to an end, while they wait for the permanent market to recover, HR departments to finalise hiring opportunities, etc. As such they are happy, as an “interim” measure receiving low daily fee rates for their skills, rarely view their activities as providing long term benefit, or seeking to fulfil appropriate exit criteria with their client – the role is just a “stop gap”.

      This is not good for the interim management market. Companies who hire interims are satisfied with expertise they get. Those “interims” who do not view interim management as a career opportunity dilute the good work that interim managers have delivered for many years.

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