Although this type of leadership is commonly used to fill a gap created by long-term executive leave, there are many other ways that interim managers can be effectively leveraged. In particular, these managers often excel in project management, change management, and new strategy implementation.
“I think we’re missing an opportunity, because those sorts of projects often detract from the primary focus of an executive team,” said Andrew Thoseby, owner and director of 1st Executive. “If you brought a specialist resource in to do a technology implementation or to restructure a sales force or to reinvigorate a brand with a new communication strategy, those are the sorts of projects that interims do really well.”
He recommends that interim managers operate under fixed contracts of three to 12 months, and be required to meet specified deliverables by the end of that timeframe.
Additional benefits of interim managers include:
- 80% of interim managers are between the ages of 40 and 60, and 60% have previously served as CEO or COO
- These managers have expertise in niche areas, and oftentimes have completed similar projects and assignments successfully
- Their temporary status precludes them from becoming distracted by office politics. “They have no interest in getting involved in the political machinations in an organisation because their reputation is based on their last assignment, so they want to leave a good result behind,” said Thoseby.
- When factoring in speed of deliverability and the value of interim specialty, ROI ranges from four to 18 times the cost of hire. Long-term risks are also minimised.
- Exemplary interim managers include Steve Jobs, President Gerald Ford, and Guus Hiddink
Although interim managers may charge $800-3,500 per day, they often save money when considering the costs of permanent employment, such as recruitment, bonus, annual leave, payroll tax, etc.
“The financial cost is worth every cent. An interim manager can often get you ahead of your competition, and when you get ahead of your competition, you can save your company millions,” said one ANZ Bank senior executive.
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Interim managers are on the rise globally. In Spain, for example, the number of contracted executives increased by 68% in 2011, and there are now associations that help managers pursue interim work as a career path.