Get in the driving seat

As an interim manager, it is you who steers your career. So take control and
gear up to beat the competition

Recent developments in interim management point to a strengthening sector
and a resource that is right for the times, with its promise of immediacy and
flexibility. So if it’s such a great idea, why is there not more of it?

Research carried out over the past few years by Russam GMS suggests that the
market is worth about £500m, with about 500,000 interim managers in play.
Average daily rates at the end of last year were £511 and about 30 per cent of
the market is part time (anything less than five days a week on a continuing

The difficulty is that organised intermediary activity (that of interim
agencies) is responsible for finding work for only about 20 per cent of the

And if the agencies can’t find the volume of work the growing number of
interims want, you have to find it for yourself. Not easy.

One route is this: define your ‘product’. Get the assignments and be good at
what you do. Easier said than done, you might think. So, how do you start?
Let’s think about the Serious Small Business model (SSB).

In the beginning you had executives and you had agencies. When an agency got
a brief, it dipped into its pond and fished someone out. At one end of the
scale is the IM, who sits at home waiting for the phone to ring, at the other
end is the exec running a serious small business which, like any business, has
all the functions and levels of activity necessary to succeed. These should

– Business planning and strategy

– Marketing

– Selling

– Accounting and Financial and Personal Financial Management

– IT

– HR and legislation

– Operations

If you want to be successful as an interim manager, you need to be in
control: you need to make the running. Being in control means:

– Constantly looking outwards for opportunities

– Making new contacts all the time and exploring how mutual benefits might
be created

– Continuously learning new things about your own professional ‘product’ –
relearning things you know already and practising what you know (if you think
you know enough, it’s time to give up)

– Regularly find out what people really think about you. If you’re barking
up the wrong professional tree or clinging to the wrong professional wreckage,
how would you find out? Who would tell you?

– Developing some support activities out of your networking that you can
work with during downtimes (for example, selling software, writing a book or
articles, lecturing, charity work. What about another go at a dotcom or M&A
fringe work?)

– Find interim management providers who you can treat as ‘partners’

Today’s professional services market is overcrowded and getting more so.
Those who want to be successful need a new vision. Paradoxically, the best
answers are the oldest: create a ‘product’ that someone, somewhere wants, know
how to sell it, work harder than others at selling it and strive to be good at
what you do.

By Charles Russam, chairman of Russam GMS, a leading interim manager
provider, and was a joint founder of ATIES, now renamed the Interim Management

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