Advice For an Interim Manager

Variety, they say is the spice of life and is one of the main reasons why I embarked on a career in interim management? I found myself one evening looking back at previous jobs I had experienced and progressed within and realized I had come to the point where I had reached a plateau with no obvious ways to progress. That is when I came across interim management as an option and have never looked back since.

Making the initial decision to change career I remember was full of fear. The decision to move into interim management required a fair degree of risk taking, especially with family and mortgage commitments. At the age of 40, I had no idea how I would market myself or even how to describe my skill-set .I had spent most of my career in IT Management so where would I go now?

Here are some tips on what to look out for when embarking on a career in interim management:
It is vital to maintain your own pace and drive, especially if the client’s culture is less pacy than you are accustomed to.

On longer-term contracts, it is easy to be succumbed to the local culture and becoming indistinguishable from the employed staff. The contract and working relationship between the Interim Manager and client is an excellent way to focus on making a difference and then move on.

Clients expect immediate delivery so there is little or no time to learn the ropes. By the end of the first week you will be required to have added tangible value to the business. Every week you will cost the client money – often more than an equivalent employee – so you need to be very focused on the improvements you are making or it’s time to go.

You will appreciate that each new contract and client is a learning opportunity. The cumulative experience and knowledge gained over different commercial sectors is what enriches skill-set and makes you worth your daily rate. They also build your network but you must make the effort to maintain it.

A big benefit for an interim over being an employee concerns the clients corporate politics. They can’t be ignored as they represent significant constraints on how you operate, but ultimately they don’t have the same long-term personal impact.

What you need to become an Interim Manager

  • Strong track record of delivering results in a corporate career
  • Demonstrate progression through roles of increasing responsibility.
  • Demonstrate focus, concentrated expertise, progression and success in a particular functional discipline and/or industry, or in closely related specialities. Managers who have switched functions or industries a number of times may be equally good interim managers, but their skills may be more difficult to sell to a prospective client.
  • In addition to having a strong curriculum vitae, the best interim managers are comfortable operating in highly uncertain circumstances. There are many uncertainties in the life of an interim manager: not knowing when or where the next assignment coming from: not knowing the client environment thoroughly yet still being expected to make a significant contribution; and not having a network of peers on the job with whom to share challenges and brainstorm solutions.
  • Successful interim mangers are physically and mentally fit enough to start a new project every six months, and are financially secure enough to weather the inevitable months without an assignment. They can live out of a suitcase for weeks or months when necessary. They interview well – which is important because the interview process to select an interim is often shorter than for permanent roles. When in assignment, they have the skills to assess quickly what is going on in a totally new environment – to analyze, develop solutions, and then deliver those solutions on time and within budget.
  • Successful interim managers are confident in their accomplishments and can both sell their achievements to their clients and deliver the results on each assignment. They may rely on agencies to deliver a portion of their work, but they know they must generate much of it via personal networking (on average two-thirds, higher among new interim managers). When in assignment they enjoy a level of remuneration (in day rate) far exceeding their peers’ in corporate life, and numerous other benefits of the interim lifestyle.