In the run up to Christmas, I managed to find a couple of days away from the office to get my shopping completed and play some sport before the onset of the festivities. The break has given me a chance to reflect upon what is happening out in the business community and its impact upon the demand for interim managers, especially in the private sector.
The Alium 2012 interim survey of over 1000 of our community threw up a few surprises for the sector such as a diversification in international working, but here in the UK, there is still considerable caution, backed by the uncertainty of the marketplace, and the strong potential for a treble dip if the retail sector has a difficult Christmas. There is little M&A activity and the PE Houses are still scrambling for the few deals that are going ahead.
So what is driving the use of interims here in the private sector? Our survey shows the traditional pull for interim managers to the financial services sector, closely followed by demand from the engineering and manufacturing industries; thereafter there was a fairly even split across the remaining sectors.
The Interim Manager Market
While that paints a picture, it does not show the true underbelly of the UK’s industrial malaise. What is it at the moment that makes a business call Alium (our competitors will enjoy this….)? In truth, the interim market is no longer driven by growth and the need, for example, to address a gap in an organisation caused by sickness, the sudden departed, or a new project. In fact, it is a dire business need that drives requests at the moment, driven by factors such as falling margins, drooping revenues or lack of footfall.
Whereby a traditional business leadership approach has stood businesses in good stead for the past 20 years, with a mantra that ‘we can grow our way out’, this no longer cuts the mustard. Excuses of the market being poor, the weather being disruptive or a summer of Olympics and Jubilee may all be factors (and you may feel better by blaming them), but the truth is that this is the new world where costs have to be controlled, performance has to be improved and cash collected. Excuses, excuses, excuses just don’t work anymore. Does this sound like your business? Is this what the sales team brief you each month? If so, it is but a matter of time before you may need an interim.
Interim Managers Assure Success
Demand in the private sector is coming from the business leaders who are either in the midst of a burning platform with no cash and no future, or from a business that has seen early the need to control costs, drive out inefficiency and adapt their sales teams to this new world.
Interim managers can help bring that much needed delivery of change at an affordable price and with the necessary experience to bring assured delivery, no management consultants fresh out of a top university, just good old honesty and implementation. So the interim market continues to thrive because of the great value and assured delivery which can help fix the new challenges of today’s difficult market dynamics, and both the private and public sectors must take advantage of this before it’s too late.