Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The definition of an interim

As we enter 2013 and adjust to what is a new landscape of the interim market, there are varying views and interpretations of what an interim manager actually is / does.  For the avoidance of doubt the Wikipedia definition is as follows, Interim management is the temporary provision of management resources and skills. Interim management can be seen as the short-term assignment of a proven heavyweight interim executive manager to manage a period of transition, crisis or change within an organization. In this situation, a permanent role may be unnecessary or impossible to find on short notice. Additionally, there may be nobody internally who is suitable for, or available to take up, the position in question.
This sums up the definition rather succinctly and reflects the nature of the interim market. There are however, an increasing number of new entrants to the market with no intention of pursuing a career as an executive interim manger but merely adopting the title of ‘interim x’ to tap into what is an established market for a short period until they find a ‘permanent role’.  The interim market consists of a relatively small population of executives specialising in change, transformation, restructuring, turnaround, programme management or to fill a gap in the leadership team with the intention of moving on to the next assignment once the agreed objectives have been delivered.
Although fundamentally there is nothing wrong with this new breed and there is demand, it is putting pressure on the true interim market and causing indecision due to the fact that it’s fuelling a what else is out there and at how much scenario.   As anyone involved in the market knows, this is of course a false economy.  The risk is much greater with someone who is not of the right mindset with no focus on delivery but rather taking the chance of it opening the door for a longer term stay.
Businesses in need of help aren’t too fussed about what label is given to the candidates we recommend.  The problem ensues when lower level operators start adopting the terminology incorrectly when a phrase such as ‘temporary x’ might be more appropriate to make the distinction.   Interim is a recognised description for someone working in the fashion akin to the Wikipedia definition and presents an understanding for all parties.  It is understood the individual will work through the appropriate vehicle (limited company, PI insurance etc.) and won’t demand lengthy notice periods, pay offs or employee Terms & Conditions etc.  
It is therefore no wonder that many people are confused with so many permutations at what actually constitutes the definition of an interim.  One thing remains certain though and that’s the continuing demand for true interim executives who will add value, drive change, deliver and leave a legacy in organisations without a hidden agenda.
By Steven Wynne