Highly skilled interim managers are a popular choice for carrying out short-term top management level assignments in all professions from HR to finance. But why are interims favoured over a permanent solution? Liz Simpson reports
Imagine a situation where your organisation's finance director leaves unexpectedly and you need someone to fill their shoes while you look for a permanent replacement. Or a sudden change in strategic focus has highlighted the need for a senior executive to head up a new, time-sensitive project, and no-one in the company has the requisite experience.
In many scenarios, day-to-day business in today's fast-paced marketplace cannot wait while you track down the perfect, permanent candidate. And sometimes that time and expense isn't the right solution anyway - which is where an interim executive comes in.
As Digby Jones, director general of the CBI says: "To adapt to fast-changing market conditions, companies have to be nimble and that means adopting a more flexible approach to HR. Interim management can play an important role in strategic resourcing, allowing companies to implement change, cover unexpected absences, manage particular projects and offer a helping hand in a time of crisis."
The concept of interim management should not be confused with temping or contingency search. "Think of David James, whose 'interim' spell trying to salvage something from the UK's Millennium Dome fiasco has helped our industry by flagging up the concept of putting someone in charge for a fixed period to bring about change," says Martin Wood of BIE - a specialist 'headrenting' (as opposed to headhunting) firm, which, since the early 1990s, has placed interim executives in many European countries as well as Australia, India, Singapore and the US.
"Up to 2,000 assignments a year require interim individuals operating at board level or one layer below. Half of these are covered by executives new to this kind of career," continues Wood.
"These are people who have the competency profile to hit the ground running, be immediately credible and have the experience to achieve a clearly-defined and measurable set of strategic objectives. They are not management consultants; they are not brought in to advise, but to get their hands dirty, staying on average six to nine months per assignment," he adds.
According to speci