Thursday, 20 December 2012

Interim Managers as part of talent mapping?

Having been an interim provider for a long time you can see the shift in the market in terms of competition for assignments and nervousness from clients. There will always be new entrants to the market consisting of those that have made the decision to embark on a career as an executive interim and long may that continue. During the challenging economic times we have experienced a new breed emerging consisting of those that are fundamentally ‘in betweeners’ – those that are searching for a permanent position but who throw their hat in the ring for interim assignments (some of whom do become career interims whilst others adopt the label whilst visiting!). Another increasing community is made up of people with a niche skill set who are forging an interim career much earlier than the norm and want to step off the corporate ladder for a variety of reasons. This increased competition is forcing some established interims into re-thinking their modus operandi.

This does actually serve clients well as they are able to select from much more choice and is fuelling the increasing preference for the engagement of a flexible and results driven focus of an interim manager. This is driving additional demand as they might not have the budget for a permanent appointment. There is also the acknowledgement that for immediate business critical situations often an interim is the only solution. This in turn is coupled by the new breed’s preference to work on a more flexible arrangement. Research is indicating the rate of growth in ‘temporary’ workers will be three to four times the growth rate among traditional workforces, and that they eventually will make up about 25% of the global workforce, although these figures are likely to be more representative of lower level ‘contractors’.

There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly securing a permanent role is still proving to be tough and the process is taking longer. Some people are finding themselves ‘forced’ down the interim route but many are choosing interim as a lifestyle choice and are selecting to add value to different organisations on a short term basis. Some career interims are seeking better work/life balance; some are fed up with corporate politics and others want to build their own careers by choosing the kind of work or projects that utilise a unique set of skills, making them more desirable for future assignments and thus carve a niche for the work they do. This does of course expose interims to a wide variety of demanding and challenging situations whether focussed on change, turnaround, restructuring or project / programme management and in turn creates even more of an attractive proposition to clients as they come to the table with extensive and relevant experience.

We have had several discussions in the last few months with clients who are ‘planning’ to engage interims to fulfil a particular project, integration, transformation etc. This is a far cry from the more common theme of ‘we have a problem and need someone immediately’.

Fundamentally there is no problem in planning to engage an interim but should there be more thought in the ‘planning’? It still feels as though an increasing number of organisations that are ‘planning’ the engagement of interims are still doing so in an ad-hoc fashion. There is also the nervousness surrounding the engagement in the first place which of course, should be alleviated through the flexibility and added value the interim brings. Therefore shouldn’t organisations be incorporating interim managers into their talent mapping strategies?

This could ensure the best possible fit for the organisation and allow more time to select and engage the right individual for the business. It also opens up the discussion to those that are on assignment who ordinarily would have been excluded from the process but might have concluded in time to commence the new one. This extends the talent pool. There have also been instances when the mandate is put out to several providers thus creating a race which inevitably leads to corners being cut and ultimately too much choice for the client. This tends to lead to indecision as a result of an extended shortlist and often elongated process involving numerous stakeholders thus making it difficult to make a decision.

Businesses constantly evolve and change and as such need to flex their resourcing accordingly. Surely the best way of working for all parties is to partner with a trusted provider that understands the client’s needs, can help achieve their short and long term business strategy, improve performance, manage costs and build a pipeline of talent.

After all, there will always be crisis situations requiring an immediate engagement and I suppose that takes us right back to where we started!

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and successful 2013.

For more information about how Macallam Interim can help please contact Steven Wynne 01423 704153 for a confidential discussion.

By Steven Wynne