Thinking of becoming an interim?

Thinking of becoming an interim?
Thinking of becoming an interim?

As the relationship between employer and employee continues to develop, there is no longer a ‘job for life’. These days many businesses buy in skills they either don’t possess or that they don’t want on the books for a long period of time (which makes sense if it’s for a one-off piece of work such as system implementation, acquisition, or a change programme).

Not only that, interims are often significantly cheaper and much better at implementation than the big 4 consultancies, so they are a much more attractive option for employers.

But what actually is an interim? And can I become one?

Before you take the leap into interim management, it’s worth considering if it is really for you. It may seem glamorous but operating as a sole entity can be lonely at times. Coupled with the pressure of constantly delivering in a project environment and searching for a new assignment a number of times per year, it can be very stressful.

Ahead of going to market, it is worth considering what you do well, what work you enjoy, and if these are the sorts of skills that clients might need to ‘buy in’.

Is it something that organisations might struggle to do successfully? If so, there could be a need for someone with your skillset.

As a guide, typical interim assignments can broadly fall into the following categories:

· Organisational and operational change programmes
· Project implementation and project recovery
· Technology/digital

“Getting the first gig is always the most challenging. A lot of people who have successfully made the transition have found the first 6 months especially difficult! Don’t let that put you off.”

My advice for getting your first assignment:

Stick with what you know; it can be much easier to get your first assignment with your current employer or with someone you have worked with in the past (for a search partner, this can also gain confidence that you deliver, if you are asked back by a former employer!).

Network extensively; assignments are normally found either through your own network or via an interim management intermediary. It’s important to build a strong network of contacts in both camps – and anticipate to have a blend of work from either side.

Invest in yourself; you need to start thinking of yourself as a business! If you’re looking to become a recognised project manager and don’t have the qualifications, I’d thoroughly recommend investing in your own development. Most employers look for Prince2, MSP or PMP, as well as sound delivery experience in a particular focus area.

Get some professional advice; there are a number of professional bodies such as the IIM or IMA who can give you advice and guidance. Many interim managers are really open to being helpful, so ask their advice – this also helps to build your network.

Create a proposition; successful interims either have a deep specialism in a particular area (which makes them a front runner for assignments and means they can typically charge a premium rate! However, they might be on the bench for a while if that market goes quiet). They may also have a broader skill set and need to take a variety of assignments to keep their experience current (this will allow you to go for more roles but remember, until you’re established, you may find that you’re pipped to the post by professional interims managers.)

And don’t forget you’ll need to set up a Ltd company and get a good accountant! (It may seem like a significant outlay but trust me a good accountant is worth their weight in gold.)

 

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

The resurgence of M&A activity and what you can do to get it right

The resurgence of M&A activity
The resurgence of M&A activity

 

We’ve always been really proud to partner with some of the most prominent change agents in the market knowledge. A few years ago we interviewed someone who was leading the way from a people change perspective to talk about the latest trends, innovations and transformations. It’s still very current so we wanted to re-share.

The interview focused on the resurgence of M&A activity and what you can do to get it right. Liz Phillips from the FTSE250, restaurant and pubs business, Mitchells & Butlers shared her insights, knowledge and experiences with us. We talked to her about the process of buying and integrating the Orchid Pub Group and what made the project a success!

Talking Acquisition Integration with Liz Phillips, Director of Resourcing & Employee Relations, from M&B.

“Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) acquired the majority of The Orchid Group – comprising of 173 pubs and a fully operational Head Office – in June 2014, for £266m. The deal expanded the M&B share of the growing pub and restaurant market in line with its strategy. The aim was to convert the majority of sites, such as Harvester, Toby Carvery, Ember, Miller & Carter and Castle and Vintage Inns, to M&B brands and formats over a two year period. The average weekly take of M&B brands was £22.7k, compared to £15.3k in The Orchid Group. The expected savings and synergies from rationalisation and support functions were c.£6m per annum – definitely worth it!

A Board of Directors were appointed to lead the Company; Operations, Finance, HR and Programme Planning. This was a senior leadership team with clear accountability for all aspects of operating the business successfully and the integration. The team had not previously worked together but quickly established a strong rapport recognising each other’s roles, responsibilities and areas of strength.

“The priority was to ensure effective and ongoing communication with all 4,000 employees throughout the business from day one.” Liz explained.

The aim was to explain the wider business context and plans and provide regular updates throughout the period of integration. It was important to understand the cultural differences and psychological impact of change on all people within the business, particularly in closing the Head Office, to keep the business running effectively in the medium term.

“The people were amazing, supportive and open with us. Whilst we did everything we could to involve, reward and communicate, we really couldn’t have done it successfully without them. There have been ongoing 121s, briefings, newsletters, weekly updates, roadshows, training courses, match making for roles and conferences. We recognised aspects of the way they did business which we admired, particularly certain aspects of operational practices which knew we could learn from and have introduced into M&B.”

In terms of leading HR, the emphasis was to continue to recruit, develop and retain people to run the businesses in a rapidly changing environment. We closed the office early in 2015 affecting c.100 people. There were a number of redundancies, however, the focus has been on deployment and employability to enhance people’s skills and experiences for their future employment.

“The plan has now been delivered and performance is looking good from an employee engagement, scorecard and ROI perspective!”

A huge thank you to Liz for sharing her experiences of leading an acquisition programme and the challenges they encountered. We hope you found it useful.

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.