Businesses today operate in a period of exponential change. The track record of a business model is more likely to stretch back 20 months rather than 20 years. The profile of managers has changed too. While many remain stuck in a 20th century mindset and organizational structure, today’s economy demands practical, flexible, action-oriented, experienced and worldly executives who can define and implement strategy rapidly. This new paradigm has given rise to the interim manager.
An interim manager will typically be brought in to help the organization through a crisis or major change. Unlike a consultant, he or she will hold an executive post and be directly responsible for defining and implementing strategy. But unlike a permanent employee, the interim manager will focus on a specific mission with a well-defined scope and time frame and will be remunerated according to results. Typical roles include:
- Managing change, such as departmental restructurings, M&A preparations, professionalizing a family board, improving the sales process or digital transformations.
- Launching a new business, including strategic expansion, and entering overseas markets, developing new products, services or business models.
- Replacing an executive who has quit, been fired, or is on temporary leave in order to fill the post until a new executive is hired.
- Project management – overseeing the execution of a specific project.
- Providing expertise. Acquiring the advice of an independent expert and training middle managers or others to disseminate the know-how.
Interim managers are used in all size of company, though for different reasons. Most Fortune 500 companies have at some point hired interim managers often because transition has become urgent and someone independent is needed to take an objective approach to some tough decisions. Small and medium – sized enterprises tend to use interim managers when they need an executive heavyweight but cannot afford a permanent one.