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Top tips for hiring an interim manager

The IMA's latest Ipsos MORI poll indicated that demand for interim managers increased by 15 percentage points during the first quarter of 2014. However, the process of hiring an interim manager should not be taken lightly.

Interim managers are experienced executives with specialist skills and a track record of achievement. They are hired by organisations across the public and private sectors on a project basis to solve problems, or to assist in organisational development and growth. 

Interim managers can fill leadership gaps or take on strategic responsibilities as part of their assignments, adding value by delivering results quickly before moving on. 

Today, an increasing number of business leaders are seeing interim managers as a cost-effective solution for bringing about organisational change and transformation.

Engagement is key to maximising the value of working in partnership with an interim management provider and selecting the best candidate. The role of the provider is to work with a client to fully understand their exact requirements, and to find the appropriate interim for the job. 

It is the provider's responsibility to add value by unpacking and deciphering the assignment brief. Any provider worth their salt will ask searching questions and establish whether the assignment has been briefed in a detailed and fully considered way before setting up the interim and client meeting. 

The client organisation needs to allow the provider, and the interim, space and time to add value to the process. The combination of a good recruiter and interim will always reach a stage where they understand exactly what the requirements are. 

Organisations can be very sensitive or closed about their requirements, usually because of confidentiality issues.

While there is a need to ensure a brief is disclosed up front, for many there will be a discovery period of two days to two weeks, while the interim starts on assignment. When they do start, they will assess the assignment in ‘context’ and go on to provide the solutions required to bring about successful change and outcomes. 

The client team needs to provide access and an open book approach to support this discovery process and feedback. If this phase isn’t supported, then the interim won't be able to add their true value. 

Simon Drake is chairman of the Interim Management Association and director at Penna