Interim management agencies

Article By
James Cumming
James Cumming
Posted On16th December 2021
Posted On16th December 2021
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What do interim management agencies do? Interim management agencies quickly place interim managers and executives across a diverse range of businesses. When it comes to hiring an interim manager or a project team, getting it wrong can cost your business money and be detrimental to projects and transformation activity.

Our process enables you to find the right people for your business quickly. We’ve worked with many of our associates for years and know who delivers effective results. When we go to market to source niche skill sets, we directly approach candidates, understanding their skills and expertise beforehand, rather than the other way around.

What does an interim manager do?

Interim managers are normally used to lead a change or transformation programme, to fill an urgent gap in the senior leadership team, to fill a skills gap or to reinforce a project team that you already have in place. They are normally hired for a specified period to deliver key objectives. An interim manager is often seen as an objective point of view, who is removed from the internal politics of an organisation. For this reason, they can be an invaluable source when moving forward as an organisation.

When should an interim manager be used?

Interim managers are most useful when implemented in short-term situations. This is most common when the business is in a period of change or transition, opening a new market or acquiring a new subsidiary. They are also useful when managing a one-off project or being the intermediary between a departing manager and their permanent replacement.

What are the differences between interim managers and management consultants?

On the surface, both interim managers and management consultants share many of the same roles and responsibilities. But there are several benefits that come with hiring an interim manager over a management consultant.

Firstly, interim managers are hired based on their abilities and reputation whereas management consultants work for an agency. Motivationally, this means that interim managers benefit from cutting costs and improving effectiveness within the organisation quickly whereas management consultants inherently benefit from recommending their agency’s additional services. This also means that management consultants report to an agency, which can create a conflict of interest, an interim manager however reports and is directly accountable to the business.

Interim managers are often specialists in the field, giving the business hiring an assurance that they have the necessary experience needed. Management consultants, however, are typically more generalist and so may not have the levels of experience and specialist knowledge that is needed to successfully operate in the given role.

Overall, interim managers offer a more complete service than management consultants. This is a fact that organisations have noticed in recent years. It has been reported that around 78% of senior directors feel that interim managers are preferable to management consultants.

Difference between interim and exec search

Executive search is a specialised type of recruitment aimed at attracting highly skilled senior management talent to an organisation. Senior executives have a significant impact on an organisation and its success, so you need to find the right person to drive your business goals.

An interim executive is not a permanent member of staff, will not be on your payroll, but will become a temporary member of the team. They have a very niche skill set and can help your business through some form of change.

What day rate should an interim be paid?

I have been asked a lot of questions about day rates for interims over the years – what day rate should a client pay or at what day rate should someone enter the market are the most frequent.

This seems like the age-old question and sometimes it seems like there is little rhyme or reason as to why people pay what they do…

Unlike permanent search, where positions are set at market rate and are typically benchmarked accordingly, interim roles at the senior end of the market, tend to be more fluid dependant on a few factors.

The interim standard for day rates is calculated as 220 days per annum + 30% on top. 220 accounts for working days per annum, including some downtime between contracts. The 30% is for the benefits that you would normally receive in a perm role.

What are the advantages of using an interim?

Immediate delivery

  • Hit the ground running and deliver results very quickly, they are also normally immediately available.
  • Typically, they are overqualified for the role and have done it before.
  • Much more delivery focused and cost effective than hiring a management consultant from one of the major consulting firms.
  • Bring an outside perspective and objectivity.

Cost advantages

You don’t have to think about the following costs:

  • Employment costs and administration.
  • Benefit costs and administration.
  • Sickness/absence costs.
  • Training and development costs.

You buy in specific knowledge and skills only when required.


Flexibility

  • You can increase or cut back on your staffing levels dependant on business demand.
  • The Interim hiring process is significantly faster than that of hiring permanent employees.
  • It’s simple to terminate or extend the services of Interims as required

Performance and fit

  • You can ‘try before you buy’ in that if performance is not satisfactory, you can take remedial action very quickly.
  • The chance to evaluate Interim performance and team/cultural fit with very little risk.
  • An opportunity to evaluate the Interim against a permanent role if applicable.

Management

  • HR support can come from the Interim provider.
  • Problem resolution comes from the Interim provider.
  • The use of Interim Executives has grown significantly in recent years as they offer real business solutions. They can act as powerful change and delivery agents, bringing new and fresh perspectives on issues, governance, and best practice.

You should take the process of selecting an Interim Executive as seriously as you would a permanent role. There is the potential for it to not quite go to plan, with significant consequences that could cost you time, money, embarrassment and possibly your personal reputation as a hiring decision-maker.

Some key behaviours that should be demonstrated by a quality interim executive

Leadership

They are able to navigate unforeseen obstacles and challenges. They have the skills and experience to do so, but also the leadership and people management abilities. This enables them to drive positive change through the people, improving the culture and delivering strategic communications.

Knowledge and experience

They bring industry insight and vast commercial knowledge which they have gained over many years experience in executive leadership positions, in both permanent and interim.

Transformation and turnaround

Change must happen quickly but without compromising the long-term stability of the business. The ‘tool kit’ the interim execs bring; meaning they are able to hit the ground running and make positive changes from day one.

Legacy

They will leave the business in a better position than when they started. This legacy should continue long after they’ve finished because they have put the foundations in and got buy-in from the business to continue with the change journey.

How do you get it right when hiring an interim?

There are certain things to think about when in the hiring process for an interim manager. Does the Interim listen and hear you? Can they understand and evaluate the job or projects you describe? How does the Interim respond to your description of the job or project? Are they simply repeating or paraphrasing what you say, or are they reframing your needs to help both of you understand what you want to achieve? Do you feel that your discussions with the Interim are part of an open, creative process?

You need to combine the ideas and experiences of the Interim with the business needs and desired outcomes. A good Interim will have a range of tools and techniques at their disposal and should be able to describe a defined process or road map from where you are now, to where you want to be. This will reassure you that they understand what needs to be done. You should feel that the Interim has added real value even before you choose to work with them and most Interims who understand their worth are happy to share these thoughts before being engaged. Evidence that the Interim has achieved results elsewhere is vital. Their willingness to share previous successes and failures with you not only makes a statement about their competence but also informs you about the importance they place on measuring success and delivering results (rather than simply working through a process).

Before engaging your Interim make sure that you have successful references from previous clients. Any Interim that has successfully delivered a project on time and to budget, will no doubt have past clients falling over themselves to say how great they were.

Thinking of becoming an interim?

If you’re thinking of becoming an interim, there are many things you need to consider. Your skillset first of all, whether it’s niche enough and there is a demand for it. Building and utilising a network is important for interims, so you need to know you are able to do it. And also, are you able to cope with the challenges of being out of work for periods and working independently a lot of the time, without that real sense of the team around you? You can watch our video ‘can I become an interim’ here, to see in more detail the things you should be thinking about.

You might want to consider writing an interim CV too. A lot of interim professionals I know have multiple iterations of their profile.


How is the interim market now?

For the last 18 months, discussion on the interim market has all been around Brexit, IR35 and how things are going to be challenging for interims in the future.

IR35 rules first came into effect in April 2000, to try to ensure individuals hired through an intermediary, were paying the right amount of tax. This has caused some panic among businesses and interims.

The pandemic has also thrown in its fair share of challenges. But as we move out of the other side and get used to the new IR35 rules, I think the future is looking bright for interims.

I spoke to several interim consultants who we work with regularly to get their views on the market and got some interesting insight from them. You can view the whole blog here.


James Cumming is our MD and leads our Interim Transformation practice. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

If you would like to find out more about re:find and how we can support you and your business, then please get in touch.


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