interim management“Making a difference” is a phrase I used to hear all too often from interim managers.

The problem with this phrase is that it is all embracing and says everything and yet at the same time it says absolutely nothing. It is too woolly by half for my liking, as is the phrase “high revving “ interim.

When I sit down with interim managers who wish to be in the Alium family, I want to understand, amongst other things, what motivates them. There is a noticeable difference between those interims who want to “make a difference” as a statement and those who are able to unpack the granularity and speak in terms of outcomes, outputs, deliverables, timelines and legacy. Clarity of intent and then ability to deliver are common drivers, and there is a whole level of underpinning factors behind these drivers.

The interim market has changed and it is undoubtedly a market pull environment where interims are talking less about themselves and more about delivering demonstrable value. The traditional reasons to be an interim often cited have included, flexibility, quality of life, skills renewal, financial reward and diversity of challenge. It is a while since I have heard these quoted, except by those who are anchored in the past.

Tagged with →  
  • Nic Vine

    I agree with the woolly statement problem. I’m not sure though how much things have changed … to my mind interims should always have been talking about what they have achieved for clients and how they went about it, rather than who they are (although we all fall into the trap to some extent).

    I’m a change/programme/project manager and an interim for 18 years. When asked what I do, depending on the context I say something like “I’m a problem solver, using a highly structured approach and intensive communications to each stakeholder group to deliver measurable benefits”. Then I give an example that is relevant to the listener, thereby making it less woolly!

    The reasons you list at the end of your blog are very important for distinguishing the career interim from the “do anything while looking for perm”, and this may be relevant to the hiring client. However the most important factor for the client is “can I trust this person to get the job done without bad surprises” - this means track record, style, chemistry, and the clincher is a personal recommendation … which is where intermediaries such as Alium come in, if they take the trouble to verify and get to know (and trust) their interim candidates.

    • Mike Hollin

      Nick, great comment entirely agree. Would be great to get your perspective on this as an interim in a blog post for our IM community so do please get in touch with myself or Rod if you feel so inclined.

  • Sean Amoroso

    I recently declined an opportunity for an 8 month contract. I knew I could do the job but realised that I would get bored with it very soon and it wouldn’t add anything significant to my cv. There was no clear focus from the client on what he actually wanted to achieve other than ‘keeping his client quiet and happy’. Commendable without a doubt. But also a little woolly? Clients also need to have clarity in what they want otherwise how do they measure the effectiveness of an interim?

    • Mike Hollin

      Sean, thanks for the comment. Value to clients can be added by having clear outcomes, outputs and deliverables. Sometimes it requires the interim to help inform the diagnostic to sharpen the client focus. My advice would be to never consider a role where you feel that you cannot define the added value dimension. You clearly have a strong and commendable value sets and ethics.