Five considerations when debating an interim or full-time executive hire

If the past couple of years have taught us anything, then surely it’s to prepare for the unexpected.

Indeed, if a global pandemic wasn’t enough to grapple with and the lasting legacy it has left on the working world, companies now face an escalating skills gap, raging talent wars and a gloomy economy.

Add to the mix a marked exodus of leaders, with a historic number of C-suite members stepping down and the result is quite a conundrum.

So, how can HRs navigate the current situation and a C-suite gap while ensuring the ship continues to sail in the right direction? In some cases, bringing an interim executive could be the best solution until a permanent hire is made.

Top tips for hiring an interim manager

With this in mind, there are a few considerations that come to the fore:

Practical vs perfect

Principally, HR specialists/executives should ask themselves ‘can we afford to wait?’ Especially in an emergency, such as an executive leaves quickly due to illness or similar.

After all, the talent gap is tight at the top and holding out for the ‘perfect fit’ could come at a cost. Rather, hiring an interim executive could help plug the gap and buy valuable time until a suitable replacement is found.

Also, in the case of a high-profile exits it can help build reassurance, sending a clear signal to employees and the market that it is ‘business as usual.’

Strategic skill sets

From digitalisation through to ESG and AI, there’s a host of new skills that most companies now require that they didn’t 10, even five years ago.

Where budget is tight, but the C-suite is lacking a certain skillset for a new project or venture, hiring an interim executive could be the perfect solution.

Who is the perfect interim manager?

What’s great is that you not only get an instant injection of new, transferable expertise but the ability to scale up or down as needed, ensuring the flexibility and knowledge you need to successfully complete the project without breaking the bank.

A fresh pair of eyes

Even with the best will in the world, it’s not unusual for companies to get so bogged down in the day-to-day they lose sight of the end goal.

One clear benefit an interim C-suite member can bring is that they are able to be more impartial than an internal candidate might be, because they have no history with the business or preconceptions.

They are a fresh pair of eyes and can bring a new unbiased view of the company and any challenges, allowing them to focus solely on the job in question, objectively assimilate the situation and develop a plan.

A change of course

In these uncertain times, many businesses are faced with making major organisation changes or sharp cost reductions.

Acting quickly is the key in these scenarios. In the absence of the ideal in-house candidate, an interim executive, especially one with a history with troubleshooting and restructuring, will bring the expertise needed to see it through.

Number of public sector interim managers increases

Drawing on their established track-record, they can drive the change needed, placing the company on the right trajectory until, if required, a more permanent leadership hire is made.

Going for growth

It’s easy to see why many startups and SMEs appoint a founding member in a C-suite position, having been there from day one.

However, this isn’t necessarily the best decision. After all, there is a vast difference in the skills needed for starting a business and growing one. In this way, whether a company wants to grow organically, through diversification or acquisitions, the right interim executive can pay dividends in bringing the experience needed to develop a winning growth strategy.

From HRD to... interim CEO

Roheela Khan is recruitment operations director at Martin Veasey