When considering interim management, it is important to distinguish between interim and two other forms of temporary employment: consulting and contracting. Article from Chris Williams, Alium Partners.
A ‘consultant’ is hired exclusively to offer advisory services, not the level of hands-on operational leadership interim managers provide to their clients. A ‘contractor’ is employed to augment existing operations, rather than establish change or transformation, which is the real purpose of any interim. Businesses must seek short term talent solutions if they want to remain competitive, which has led to a noticeable trend towards the increased use of interim managers to drive growth in business.
Interim managers, deployed either individually or in a team, bring a diverse range of sectoral knowledge and experience as well as the technical skills needed to implement a desired change in an organisation. Many businesses that have only ever operated within one market sector are now diversifying their offerings to capture market share in related segments. For example, there is currently strong demand in areas such as telecoms where companies are bringing in specialist interim resource to provide leadership in the diversification of their products and services. Business opportunities and threats are evolving at an ever greater pace and companies must focus on constantly adapting the products and services. This approach to business has become a more prominent strategy and has resulted in the blurring of identity for companies traditionally aligned to one specific sector.
Interim management has proven an effective tool to establish a new identity within a business by educating an often long-serving employee base to understand and buy-into the business changes and transformation taking place. Beyond implementing a set of processes and governance that can be reversed upon exit, interim managers establish meaningful change to the mind-set of employees and a lasting cultural shift to the overall business. Google and Amazon’s success in transitioning through numerous strategic shifts while maintaining a strong sense of identity is well documented. Companies are looking to establish an ethos unique to their way of working, innovating and creating, rather than purely what they currently ‘do’. This extension of change management requires a series of sponsors within a business in order to drive employee base buy-in to this new way of thinking, a new flexible approach to day-to-day operations and the company’s aims. Interims are an ideal conduit to achieve this transformation, and the reasons are multi-faceted.
Bringing in fresh thinking which is not ‘native’ is undoubtedly integral, as is bringing in new subject matter expertise. However, typical interim skills provide a basis for cultural change by executing the appropriate strategy and subsequent operational implementation to effectively influence and educate staff. Interim has always offered the cultural change discussed here, however it has increasingly become the rationale behind client engagement in such services. The recession has been a catalyst to the adoption of ‘the ultimate agile management resource’. This new post-recession use of interims is excellent, not only for the growing interim management industry, but also for British business as a whole.