In an increasingly challenging economy and competitive talent marketplace, heads of function are having to ensure that they have more of a say in company strategy, rather than remain focused on the functional aspect. Head of HR Practice, Chloe Watts, looks at the key way in which introducing functional interims can support and benefit a company’s strategic direction.

Functional Interims and Strategy

Static market

While we hear a lot in the media about high unemployment levels at the lower end of the earning spectrum, there is also now a real issue with a decline in talent mobility at the executive level. Five years into a recessionary cycle, executive recruitment is static.  Part of this is attributable to a conservatism forced by a period of instability and the inclination to stay put, rather than risking the view above parapet.  This in turn causes a lack of opportunity for those who are keen to test their mettle elsewhere. This is to say nothing of the increased levels of redundancy in senior executive roles, particularly in support functions based on cost management.  This causes a crowded marketplace and a challenge for those businesses striving for growth. But how do functional interims overcome this?

External perspective

The most important issue around low attrition is ensuring your current team stays fresh to manage the organisation’s growth and ambition. This can take some external perspective to balance risk with entrepreneurial-ism and conservatism with flair.

It goes without saying that any organisation must be built on a sound foundation of effective systems and processes.  The bread and butter of all corporate functions is to build and maintain an effective operating infrastructure.  However, it is now clear that functional leadership must extend beyond this to strive for organisational progression.

It takes vision, courage and energy in order to deliver strategy. This is where in HR, as well as across other functions, interim leaders offer a hugely effective way to provide a step change in strategic thinking. Current market activity is showing a variety of functional interims being employed for just this reason. These include:

  • Objectivity to challenge the status quo
  • Breadth of perspective and organisational experience
  • No previous emotional or political history or allegiance
  • Energy and motivation
  • Functional credibility
  • Strategic ability

When functional interims take on a new assignment  their blend of experience, perspective and drive for results offers the catalyst for apathetic senior teams to re-energise and build to a new peak of performance.  This injection does not need to be long-term, by its nature; their legacy is bedded into operational teams to go onwards in the organisational journey with sound functions and clear, strategic vision for a successful future.

Are functional interims being more entrusted with strategy? What is your experience? Share with us in the comments box below.

photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc

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