Interim managers must work positively with permanent employees if they want to be in high demand. Here are the tactics to adopt to achieve those good relationships.

One key quality that successful interim managers must have is the ability to develop positive working relationships quickly with the host organisation’s permanent staff. This can often be a challenge, given that a common objective of bringing an interim manager into the company is to shake things up and find new ways of working.

According to the Institute of Interim Management, working alongside permanent employees can be tough because interims won’t (and shouldn’t) behave like a ‘normal’ staff member. They’re not interested in supporting the politics or hierarchy; they’re focused on achieving the objectives they have been assigned. The end result? Staff at all levels could feel threatened and refuse to cooperate.

Tips for Working With Permanent Employees

Here a number of tactics that successful interim managers deploy to ensure that these problems are kept to a minimum:

Sensitive Communications

The best interim managers understand that too firm a focus on the assignment’s objectives could leave a lot of confused personnel in its wake. While interim management is about challenging existing practices (often involving the organisation’s leadership team), it also places great importance on communicating with sensitivity. An interim manager can quickly gain credibility and trust by appreciating the doubts expressed by staff and finding cogent arguments to demonstrate the benefits of the work that the interim intends to do.

Flexibility Where Required

The permanent employees who are affected by the interim’s work need to feel as if their opinions are respected. After all, where is it written that the interim manager has the monopoly on good ideas? Successful interim managers listen to their colleagues at the start of their assignments and adapt their plans when others provide better alternatives. This demonstrates a willingness to listen to employees and use them as valuable resources.

Aligning Timeframes and Resources

Interim managers are always in a hurry because they have a fixed time in which to get results. However, permanent staff may not have the same sense of urgency. It’s essential that the interim manager develops an understanding with key personnel on the deadlines that need to be met and what resources are available to meet them. Permanent employees have their normal daily tasks to undertake in addition to whatever cooperation the interim manager want to lever from them so this is where buy in and clear messages about benefits are crucial to successful implementation.


The sensitivity mentioned above should be strictly reserved for how to communicate with people. Because of the expectations placed on them, interim managers have to be tough when it comes to decision making and cutting through processes that don’t work or are holding the organisation back. To take permanent employees on the journey, interims must provide them with hard facts, figures and assessments that will persuade them to change their way of thinking.

Working the Contacts

The main contacts that interims have during their assignments are assets to be used in developing good relationships with other permanent employees. Successful interim managers invest time in self-marketing, promoting the benefits of working alongside them and developing strategies to fit in with ever-changing variables. They identify the people who can act as their ambassadors and win them over within the first few days, ensuring that the right message is spread throughout the rest of the workforce.

Which methods have you used to work alongside permanent employees successfully? Please share your opinions with the interim community.

photo credit:Geralt cc

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