Getting the best from an interim manager
Once you have engaged a professional interim manager, you have a powerful resource in your corner. To get the best results, you should give them the access to resources and the responsibility to add value.
- Expect a rapid start. Interim managers typically add value very quickly. Long induction processes are not needed. Give them the contacts and authority to get on with it.
- Allow responsibility and control. Interim managers are more than capable of judging how best to approach and control the assignment. Their approach, while sometimes unfamiliar, is likely to invigorate the business or business area they are engaged with.
- Meet regularly. Keep up to date and discuss assignment progress as it proceeds. Engage with the interim manager in these meetings to support their implementation.
- Interim managers manage. Don’t confuse an interim manager with a lower-level contractor. Interim managers should be given appropriate management responsibility, for direct management of individual employees, departments, divisions or companies.
- Interim managers hold budgets. Don’t shackle the interim manager with red tape. They should have no less budget holding or ‘sign-off’ authority, than a manager or executive of equivalent seniority. They are there to get the job done; support them.
- Don’t expect them to behave as employees. Let them operate aside of the politics and hierarchy of an organisation. They are not there to supplant permanent employees. They are accomplished at being as close to or as apart from the organisation as required.
- Use their experience. Unlike permanent employees, where having ‘too much experience’ can present a challenge; interim managers are well-qualified in a good way. They are unlikely to stay, so their experience is of no threat. Use their knowledge.
- Let them tackle difficult and sensitive work. Interim managers are adept at appropriately pointing out ‘elephants in rooms’. Not tied to employment, they are well placed to address uncomfortable truths, difficult discussions and unpopular activities.
- They may tell you things you don’t like. Interim managers can professionally and candidly share with you things that you need to know, regardless of political expediency. What you do with the information is up to you, but the insight can be priceless.
- Let them leave a legacy. Interim managers are a great source of knowledge and development for the people they come into contact with. They do not have an interest in hiding or hoarding their knowledge because they do not have a permanent job to defend.
- Endorse them on success. As independent businesses interim managers rely on client endorsements or recommendations, which they can use for marketing purposes. This is not an ‘employee reference’ so help them with fair feedback which they can use.
- Keep in touch. Interim managers may provide coaching and support on an ad hoc basis, outside of an assignment. They may be able to help you in the future so stay in touch.
Interim managers need the authority and control to make a difference, or it will be as if they have ‘one hand tied behind their back’, reducing their value to the business.
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