How can you decide whether interim management is for you? You may have already decided that being an interim is your next step, but it is still worth asking yourself some tough questions before taking the plunge. What are your motives? Are you doing it for the right reasons? Have you thought through the practical and psychological consequences of no longer being employed full-time? Do you fully understand what being an interim entails?
And, most important of all, do you have anything to offer?
The first point to bear in mind is that interim management is not an easy option or a soft alternative to a full-time job. It is a highly competitive environment and individuals who fare best are those who are wholly committed to being an interim. It demands a raft of skills and self-discipline, especially since at times you will feel as if you are on a perpetual job-hunt. You need to accept that you may not work 12 months each year but when you do it should be challenging, rewarding and career-enhancing.
Flexibility is by far the most important quality for an interim manager. You need to be able to adapt to and fit in with a range of different working environments, workforces and cultures. You also need to be good at problem-solving, influencing people and creative thinking.
In addition to these core skills, there are other important qualities and character-istics that will make you an effective interim. It helps if you do not have anything to prove, having already achieved at a high level. Self-confidence should be a given, and you should not have any learning curves left to climb – hitting the ground running is vital in interim assignments.
Interim managers must also be able to assert authority immediately, in a way that does not alienate colleagues. Six hours is often quoted as the time interims have to make a difference at a company and you will be judged on what you achieve.
Interims win assignments by convincing organisations that they have the exact experience and skills needed to do a specific job. Even if you go through an agency, your CV is the shop window or brochure for these skills. Think of yourself as a small business – a product even – and make sure you have something to offer your customers. If there is little to distinguish you or you do not have the technical skills that are required in today’s market, nor real depth of experience, you need to question whether becoming an interim is right for you.