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Interim Management

Published on May 21st, 2014 | by James Foster


“To Be, Or Not To Be…An Interim”: The Interim Market

In this post I discuss the how the interim market is changing in wake of the financial recovery.  As well as traditional gap filling roles, interims are now used to manage transformational change, as well as providing ‘expert’ opinions to help decision makers with hard choices.

In recent weeks, I have been reflecting on the interim market and the way it is likely to evolve during 2014 and beyond. Recently, I attended an excellent networking meeting for interim managers in Greater Manchester. Such meetings are a great way to interact with interims locally and to hear more about the market place and current issues.

This meeting helped me to consider my reasonably unique insight into the interim market - as both a placer of interims for Alium, but also as an interim myself working in the public sector.

Market Recovery

The good news for established interim managers and for those just entering the interim market is that demand continues to rise. However, market growth is inconsistent and local government especially remains a difficult sector, due to the level of financial cuts and the various barriers that prevent clients from obtaining external support. But other areas remain buoyant, including the NHS, Financial Services and Utilities and a good source of assignments for the right candidates.

Difficult Decisions

Fortunately, clients in these sectors still see the value of hiring interim managers, but as business confidence increases, they are starting to look at other solutions, including permanent recruitment. However, the case for hiring an interim is still compelling and, in my view, remains the best way to access fresh ideas, quick solutions and senior level experience. An independent ‘expert’ is still often the best way to help an employer make difficult decisions.

Changing Demand for Interim Managers

But the market continues to evolve and the professional interim needs to be aware of this. While there is still demand for traditional, gap-filling interims, clients recognise the wider benefits of hiring a short term expert to bring about significant change and transformation too. Particular skills in demand include workforce planning and organisation development, project and programme management, commercial and procurement expertise, and business redesign skills.

Staying in the Interim Market?

So…as businesses start to invest in staff again, it provides an interesting choice for interims.  Should they consider switching to full-time employment and leave the world of interim management behind?

Perhaps not surprisingly most interim managers reply with a resounding ‘NO.’ Questions such as: “Why give up the independence, flexibility, variety and freedom from the internal politics?” frequently arise. It is hard to disagree with this and the great satisfaction interims get from making a big impact across different clients. However, an interim career does not suit everyone, with job insecurity or lack of continuous assignments often the reason for making the switch back to a permanent role.

To sum up, I continue to see increasingly optimistic signs in the interim market for interim managers. Employers are starting to look at permanent solutions too, but the advantages of hiring an interim with the right skills, experience and determination remains powerful.

Do you feel the interim market is changing?  Have you been asked to manage transformational change or provide an expert opinion?  How do you see the role of the interim manager evolving in the future?  Please leave your comments below.

Photo Credit:Rupena

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About the Author

James focuses on developing and growing Alium’s Public Sector practice, covering local and central government, health, policing and criminal justice, and related public bodies. James is responsible for placing senior interims into leadership roles, heads of function, transformation teams, turnaround and programme management across the UK.

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