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Being an Interim Manager

Published on March 11th, 2015 | by Sean Clancy


The Challenge of the Inbetweeners and Being A “True Interim” in 2015

Having operated as an interim since 1995, senior procurement professional Sean Clancy shares his thoughts on today’s interim management market and why being a “true interim” is still an important mark of quality in 2015.

The interim management market has changed dramatically over the last two decades, from being a crisis and sudden departure tool in its fledgling phase in the 90s, to something that is recognised today as a strategic option to help businesses and organisations transform, change and grow. However, this transition has also affected the type of professionals operating in today’s market.

The inbetweeners

What I have seen, especially since 2008, is a rise in what I call the “inbetweeners” – essentially, permanent professionals who are taking interim opportunities as a stopgap. I don’t think, in a world where career interims such as myself are truly established, that this kind of short term view of interim management is helpful or healthy for the industry. If you want to do interim management, then I think you have to embrace the lifestyle and either commit or quit.

The interim lifestyle

If you chose to commit then that must come with a tacit understanding of exactly what it means to be an interim. For a classical perspective, an interim needs to be overqualified for the job they are being asked to do. An assignment should be an easy step in, not a hard step up. It may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many clients are threatened by an interim with superior skills or experience. They shouldn’t be.

Make a difference, leave a legacy

Next, the interim lifestyle is not simply driven by the ability to work less or earn more. Countless surveys, market stats and my own personal experience point to the fact that it is variety and the ability to make a difference, rather than financial reward that continue to motivate. The importance that some “inbetweeners” don’t understand is that interims needs to be able to leave a sustainable legacy in order to be considered successful. This is not just “a temp job” – the professional interims I know enjoy being an interim and look at it as a career.

Added value guarantee

Alongside these factors, the key thing that clients will look for is that you are adding value to their business through the work you are doing. That is another key indicator of success. How do you do this? For me it is about always being at the leading edge of your function and understanding it better than anyone. Use the best practice knowledge you have gained and ensure you over-deliver in every assignment to guarantee customer satisfaction – and your continued good reputation. And, if you find after your departure, that your changes have not remained in place and the customer is unhappy, go back and find out why. Offering to audit your own work in this way will give the quality assurance your client deserves and will ensure you stand out in the market – not just from other interims, but from those inbetweeners too!

What are your thoughts on the inbetweeners? How has interim management changed over the last few years? Share your thoughts with Sean and our community below.

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About the Author

Sean is a strategic board level Procurement Transformation specialist with an impressive track record in a number of Procurement activities. Clients range from corporate procurement in SMEs to FTSE 250 companies with particular knowledge of: Engineering & Manufacturing, Pharmaceutical, Food & FMCG sectors.

  • Charles Stuart

    Good comments Sean, totally agree that the steady flow of “inbetweeners” is not good for the career interim or ultimately the industry/ Interim is not for everyone, obviously and I think your commit or quit comment gets it spot on.

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