What is interim management?

With
a market that exceeds £500m annually, the term interim management is now widely
recognised in the business world, but is it fully understood, asks Mike Berry

Nick
Robeson, new chairman of the Interim Management Association (IMA), believes UK companies
are now finally starting to wake up to the benefits of interim managers.

“Ten
years ago, in a turnaround or crisis situation, companies would have typically
gone to PWC or KPMG and brought in consultants,” he says. “Now there is a
maturity in the marketplace and companies are using interims proactively rather
than reactively.”

Robeson
says this maturity was primarily driven by the dotcom boom and the need for
companies to get hold of resources quickly.

“This
led people to understand a different way of recruiting and resourcing.
Businesses don’t have time to take six months to recruit somebody,” he says.
“They may well run that process but can’t stand still while it takes place.”

Holland
is typically looked at as the motherland of interim management, but there it is
legislative in terms of usage because of tough employment laws on permanent
hiring.

“In
the last five years, the UK has taken the higher ground in the way it uses
interims – it is far more strategic,” Robeson says.

The
typical profile of an interim is also changing. “Historically, interims were in
their mid-50s, but now it’s late 30s and early 40s.”

“As
individuals, interims have usually worked at three or four companies, have had
regular steps up in their career and a recognition in themselves that they are
very good project managers,” he says.

“What
companies tend to look for is people who have demonstrated project-based skills
in their role,” he added. “You must be able to show a start, middle and end to
projects over a one or two-year period.”

Robeson
also holds HR interims in particular high esteem. “They have always been
effective,” he says. “HR professionals have consistently been around 20 to 25
per cent of the interim management industry and seem to understand the industry
more so than others.”

Far
from running down the quality of HR, as is the fashion at the moment, Robeson
believes HR interims are highly-skilled.

“I
wouldn’t disagree that HR occasionally gets bad press, but so does IT, so does
marketing. In terms of the quality I’ve seen from mid-management and above,
they certainly have the skills to work at board level.”

Robeson
also believes the argument that interims are too costly is an old one.
“Consultants are paid twice or three times what an interim is paid, and an
interim can put theory into practice,” he says.

“Most
interims have the consultancy skill within themselves and the ability to
analyse as well. Cost is one of those factors that should not come into the
equation.

“What
the client is getting is flexibility to bring someone in for a short period of
time and someone who will very quickly save the organisation money,” he says.

“The
IMA – as the voice of the industry – must keep banging the drum to make
companies realise this.”

Top
tips for interims:


Make the decision to become an interim yourself – don’t be persuaded


Always look to sell yourself


Develop a chameleon nature – where you can walk straight into different
situations and businesses and hit the ground running


Develop your people skills


Be able to deal with both internal and external pressures


Have a confident and assured manner

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