Usually if the interim manager doesn’t get the permanent post they swallow their disappointment, go back to their substantive post and start the process of applying for senior posts around the country using their resent experience to strengthen their candidacy. However recently there has been a spate of resignations from unsuccessful high profile interims upset and in some cases claiming the appointment process was rigged. The implication is the relationship between the senior manager and the chair / certain board members has been irreparably damaged.
Maybe the senior manager feels they were led to believe that board members were happy with their performance, relationships were positive leading them to think that provided they didn’t mess up the interview they would be appointed. Perhaps in retrospect they believe an outside candidate was always going to be appointed especially now that they have learnt that the successful candidate was encouraged to apply by the chair. Of course there is nothing wrong with encouraging people to apply as long as you don’t promise them the post if they do.
The post of interim manager is not easy but it is a chance to impress. Interim executives brought in from outside are usually experience former senior managers with a brief to hold the fort or steady the ship until the permanent appointment is made. As such their ambitions are different to the internal acting up interim Chief executive or Director who intends to apply for the permanent post.
If you want the permanent post you are tempted to do more than just hold the fort, you have ideas, you know changes are required, your established relationship with members means you are familiar with their frustrations, concerns and ambitions and you want to please them. But change always upsets some people whether officers on your senior management team or back benchers and you don’t want a reputation for creating conflict and disharmony at a time when members want a smooth transition. So how to impress.
Your main problem as the internal candidate is the often held view that there is someone out there with more experience who can bring something different.
But an outsider presents a risk despite the background checks by the head hunters you never really know what someone is like to work with until you work with them and a candidate who comes across as charming and dynamic during the interview process maybe intransigent and belligerent when members don’t go along with their plans. Where as the interim is a known quantity a safe pair of hands, offering the smooth transition and consistency that partners claim to want. But what if the chair and board see this as an opportunity to do something different. How does the interim convince sceptics that if they were appointed they could move from being a nice guy to being a tough guy, a safe pair of hands to an agent of radical change?
Board Members may feel they have met their obligation to the interim by offering them an interview. The interim’s message to the interview panel is you know me and what I can do. The problem often is board members believe there are stronger more exciting candidates out there, a belief the recruitment specialist may have encouraged . Hence why they may end up re advertising the post, prompting the resignation of the interim executive.