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What to do when your company is confronted with the loss of senior management, or when a project or business is beyond the scope of your current management capabilities?
Management consultancy firms have been a traditional stop-gap method, but these can be much more costly – and not necessarily as efficient – as bringing in an interim manger or interim management team. An entire interim management profession has developed to fill the vacuum that is created when established firms are stymied for lack of key personnel, usually at a reduced cost from that of a consultancy and with a broader ability for the client to select the individual or individuals who will fill best the void in their organization.
The need for an interim management solution is clearest when the client company has a specific strategic or tactical project with focused goals and mandates but lacks the relevant managerial knowledge and proven skill to delver the project goals. Without such experience it is quite easy to get out of one’s depth, even with the backing of a consultancy which one must then, in effect, manage to ensure that goals are kept on track.
The management level gaps that create the need to procure interim management services need not necessarily be systemic. The need to hire an interim manager for a fixed term can arise from the promotion of key executives out of a sensitive position, secondment of key management personnel to other business divisions or to government, restructuring, resignations, maternity or health-related leaves, or even special projects or peak activity levels that merely stretch existing management beyond immediate capacities. The ability to quickly and efficiently fill key management positions with an experienced interim manger means that opportunities and/or project management momentum need not be lost while an extensive search for permanent replacement personnel is undertaken.
Interim managers can and are being used in a broad range of business situations – whether for straightforward project management, to manage outsourcing, participate in and lead merger and acquisition initiatives, undertake and lead due diligence teams, or to lead corporate restructuring or reorganization efforts, interim managers can be handpicked to deliver a wealth of business experience that the client firm either does not possess or cannot allocate to a specific project.
With a simpler – and most often more affordable – structure than retaining the services of an outside management consultancy, the client firm gains the benefit of a limited contract with a specific individual (or individuals) which allows them to focus on obtaining the interim manager with the relevant experience and abilities that best suit the task at hand. Interim managers tend to come from numerous business backgrounds, and the breadth of experience that they have in key industries and across industries equip them with valuable perspectives that are in some instances keener than management personnel that have been with an individual firm for an extended tenure. Having been “outside the box” – they may have a greater capacity to foresee both unrecognized problems and opportunities
The key advantage of bringing interim management personnel into an organization to fill interim management gaps is that they are quickly able to get up to speed with their wealth and breadth of business knowledge and experience. Moreover, as the priorities and time pressures created by a management shortage begin to fade, the interim manager’s experience, both on-the-job and across industries, will allow him or her to play a valuable role in hiring a replacement and mentoring the team that will carry on the day-to-day management of ongoing projects once permanent managers are hired and established.