Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Interim Management- a rewarding career choice

Companies are always looking to grow. They strive to increase revenue, improve efficiency and profitability and ensure they are best positioned to capitalise on changes in their markets.  This often drives the need for the engagement of an individual to guide the business through change and transformation. The demand therefore for help in the short term from someone to guide them through this continues to increase.

Traditionally, the image of a typical interim manager was that of an individual who was at the end of his/her career and he/she chose interim management in order to stretch his/her career further.

How the times have changed. Many career paths are now following the temporary and flexible working route as a career of choice. Interim provides more choice over work life balance and with new ways of working and the rise of social media it’s never been easier for an interim manager to raise and boost their profile.
According to multiple surveys what really appeals to today’s interim manager are new challenges and the opportunity to make a difference. Assignments are focussed on results and delivering real benefit to the organisation.  This in turn requires someone to provide objectivity to the Board and doesn’t allow nor does it need time spent on company politics.

A career as an Interim Manager isn’t for the faint hearted.  It requires a particular mind set and a determination and focus to get results.  This is usually refreshing to the organisation and provides a platform to help move their business forward.

Whilst the rewards and benefits are appealing and the barriers to entry relatively low, there is little point embarking on this career choice if you prefer the status quo.  Macallam Interim ensures the success of our placements by matching personalities with cultures, and goals with capabilities to create sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships.

To discuss an immediate business need or for more information on how an Interim Manager can help you, please call us on 01423 704153 or email

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The importance of becoming a “Destination Employer”

After the traditionally quieter summer months of recruitment things are now starting to pick up in the market and gather pace. The job market and interim recruitment is constantly developing but are these changes being truly understood and effectively adapted to?

At Macallam Interim, we continually challenge the recruitment landscape to keep pace with talent acquisition and understand the importance of building a "talent pool" ahead of client needs. Statistics show that whilst 95% of candidates are employed 75% will always be receptive to attractive and professional propositions.  Often in permanent search the people in the job market who are actively looking are not the best or most suitable people for your vacancy. Equally available interims aren't necessarily the best fit for a particular assignment, so our focus is about building strong relationships and having a pre-vetted network of executives available to call upon.

Candidates are not just looking for any new opportunity - they want the right one and Macallam Interim assists employers in creating a positive company culture and brand identity to attract top talent. Providing a winning candidate experience through positive employee engagement programmes and “selling” the clients business to the candidate can make the difference for a successful outcome and is often overlooked in the direct hiring process.

UK businesses remain firmly focused on growth which is increasing the demand for highly qualified interims with specialist skills to support them. Their immediacy, flexibility and affordability is very appealing. Clients understand the importance of creating a positive company culture and brand identity in order to achieve “Destination Employer” status. After all, business is about people and it is only the right talent that will help drive your business forwards.

To discuss how we can help please call 01423 704153 or email

Social recruitment – evolve or get left behind

Most people would agree that change is the only constant now. Darwin wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Millennials are now shaping the future workplace, having grown up with technology and being used to using it for communication, entertainment, education, and work.

Whilst social media is not a new phenomenon, within the recruitment arena it has brought positive change to both companies recruiting and candidates. For companies, it is now easier to get to know your candidate than ever before and for candidates it provides a platform to showcase your skill sets and interact with potential recruiters; making the entire application process easier and more engaging.

 A recent survey showed LinkedIn is still the most-used social media platform for recruiting, used by 94 percent of recruiters and employers.  In the 11 years since LinkedIn hit the recruiting scene, social media has changed the way employers and recruiter’s source talent.

 Macallam Interim understand the importance of giving clients and candidates choice using different social media platforms reducing both the time and cost of hire.  We simplify this process further by first identifying this talent and then connecting with this talent to suggest those interim candidates who best match against specific job criteria and therefore improving the overall quality of hire.

 Interim management is quite often about not only the quality of hire but the speed at which this can be delivered and adopting social recruiting methods we are able to build strong relationships and have a pre-vetted network of top calibre interim executives from which to call upon. 

 To discuss how we can help please call 01423 704153 or email

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Pains and Productivity of Virtual Teams

I recently spent 6 months managing a virtual team with people all over the globe.  Quickly getting into the very bad habit of sitting in an office, talking into a telephone, for 12 hours a day. It changed the way I work, and it reminded me of some of the coaching I used to give to junior managers about how to run meetings.  So I have some observations that I thought I’d share.

With the exception of the British, people in most European countries have a reasonable work-life balance.  They get the work done, but on their terms.  In contrast, I found that some Americans would accept meeting invitations at all times of the day or night.  Once or twice, as a favour to me, I know that people will attend meetings while on vacation, or on their way to the baby crèche.  However, I became careful with my timing as I didn’t want to push my luck. 

To cover mistakes or gaps in meetings we often use humour.   So, for example, I tend to crack a joke during meetings or share some banter when waiting for people to join.  These attempts at humour were not received well by some people from the Far East.  It’s not that they are sour, just that they didn’t appreciate throw-away comments.  I became very serious-sounding – for most of the time.

Relationships within the client are already well established; often going back years.  As interims we start an assignment as guests at the table.  So some behaviours can seem quite a surprise to the newcomer.  Aggression was an example of this.  On a number of occasions I was taken aback by very sharp exchanges of views on the line.  Aggression is hard to handle, because the team cannot pick-up on non-verbal cues while on the phone to anticipate or de-fuse it.  On the positive side, aggression often got disputes resolved quickly without dancing around handbags.  So although this was my virtual team, to some people it was family – and that is how they behaved.

My big fear was that key participants would find my meetings tedious or non-productive, and would start skipping calls.  This would be terminal.  Anyone dialing-in during their early morning or late evening wants a slick, well-prepared meeting with defined objectives.  We all know how to do this.  I found that I was going into my meetings having pre-cooked much of my content.  Even to the extent that I would rehearse the start of some sentences; so I would never say:  No, but ..”  instead I used “Yes, and …”.  We all know how to do these things, but meeting with people who we can’t see needs a focus on process and content. 

There are some major benefits to running meetings on-line.  These come from the technology.  For example: many of the calls were with people from outside our immediate team.  So before these calls we always opened an on-line text messaging session, but limited to the core team.  Incredibly useful – like passing notes at the back of a classroom.

Now that I’ve had an assignment which was almost entirely virtual, I do have one major worry about on-line meetings.  My concern is that they are less than useless for problem solving. 
Yes, there is technology out there which is meant to enable problem solving by virtual on-line teams.  So I’ve shared virtual whiteboards, and I once worked with a Fintech entrepreneur who insisted on us doing mind-maps together on-line  (it didn’t work).  My view is that nothing beats a meeting room with a white board for resolving a knotty problem, or when designing a solution.  There’s just something about being there. 

With thanks to Alan Greenwood for another interesting insight into Interim

To discuss how we can help with any recruitment requirements, please call 01423 704153 or email

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The capacity to attain capacity

I have worked in organisations with ExCo members whose complaint is that they don’t have anybody available to do a specific something.    They need someone with the capacity to resolve the problem, but how does the searcher identify someone with the capacity?

It needn’t even be the six degrees of separation thing.  I know that the person with skills is almost at their fingertips.  It’s like they have their hand in the fish pond but don’t know that their fingers are millimetres away from the trout.  

The interim manager is the trout.  Here the analogy falls down, because we want to get caught.  Like most interims, I’ve been working for a long time.  So I’ve done a huge variety of things.  It’s got to the stage where, frankly, I’m drawing on a large array of skills, but use them in a different mix each time.
So what’s the value that I, and many interims, bring?  In my most flippant moments I have been known to quote a chap called Woodrow: that I have “the capacity to attain capacity”.  This does not go down well with junior recruiters; so I have stopped saying it.  Although that does not stop me from thinking it.  
What I mean is that if you (ExCo person) throw a problem at me: I will work out what to do with it.  Then I will roll-up my sleeves and get it done.  I don’t need to demonstrate that I have resolved that particular problem before, but I can show that I have successfully sorted-out a wide variety of problems.
Last year I had dinner with a potential client and her Mr Fix-it.  After the starter they outlined their problem.  Frankly they were both woolly when explaining this problem.  The underlying question was how to stop a major client making lots of noise about something which was distracting everybody up to the board of directors.  

She wanted this thing fixed.  I got the job.  In the first days I got to understand the problem, but I didn’t have the faintest idea how to resolve it.  What she and Mr Fix-it had spotted was that I had the capacity to sort it out.  Which I did.  How I got from problem identification to a set of solutions I do not know.  But I did – and (by the way) I got a substantial follow-on piece of work.  

I knew that I had sorted-out complicated things before.  I knew that if I thought about it, and talked it through a few times with the client and her people, that I’d come-up with a solution and a plan.  I also had the confidence to roll my sleeves up and sell-in and run the plan.

That is what I mean by the capacity to attain capacity.  That’s the value good interim managers bring.  In fact, the value that anybody brings who is any use.  So what is it that enables a hiring manager to identify that you have the capacity to attain the capacity?  A referral?  Your CV?  Penetrating interview questions?  What?  I’d like to know please.

With thanks to Alan Greenwood, our new guest blogger who will be posting regular insights into various subjects surrounding interim management and the ever changing recruitment landscape.

Alan has over 30 years experience in the Financial Services industry with Citibank in Europe and for various consultancies.  For the last 12 years he has been an interim manager and has a track record of delivering significant  business  transformation projects in the UK and internationally. 

To discuss how we can help with any recruitment requirements, please call 01423 704153 or email

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Does the engagement of an interim manager ensure project success?

Bringing in additional project management resources can not only save a failing project but also help define what constitutes project success at an early stage

Projects fail all the time. What constitutes a project’s success and how it is defined will differ from organisation to organisation.
The standard expectation for a successful project is that it’s delivered on time, on budget and is of the right quality. This is often the case if the project has been competently managed and led.
It is, however, much more important that the business case and the benefits are made clear at the beginning of a project and readjusted along the journey, because this is the real measure of a project’s success.
Projects fail because the latter point hasn’t been realistically set out, the requirement has changed due to market or economic forces, or there has been a lack of communication at all levels.
If a project’s success is determined by its delivery in line with expectations, then the person who has set the guidelines will have a determining factor as to the success or failure of the project. This is usually the project sponsor, the person who “owns” it.

Project governance is the key to success, and business managers should be involved along the way to ensure the project is delivered in line with expectations.

A more fruitful solution is sometimes to resource externally to lead the project from the outset Formal project governance is the big change we have seen over the past few years, and this was a response to the lack of ownership and control by the very people who require and fund the outcome of projects – the business managers.

A project running behind budget and time would usually be seen as a failure, but in fact a project’s success is determined by the benefit it delivers to the business, and if that means the cost and completion date have to be moved with the agreement of the stakeholders, then so be it.

Interim managers are often bought in to rescue “failing” projects. This can make perfect sense, because having a fresh set of eyes on the situation and making the necessary changes to drive the project forward can get the project team and its sponsors realigned.

There are real benefits to doing this, not least because once the project is underway and costs have been incurred, it can be difficult for the project team to pull it back on track. An interim manager can ensure that stakeholders become realigned to the outcomes and that people are ready for the change the project was intended to deliver.

Finding and retaining the right resource is challenging but critical. Once the right skill set has been defined, engaging externally can sometimes be the only option.
A more fruitful solution is sometimes to resource externally to lead the project from the outset, with someone whose only focus is to enable change and who won't be drawn in to business as usual.

One of the key ingredients is to spot the warning signs and act immediately Planning is paramount to the success of a project, and it is important to define what constitutes success at the early stage of the process. It is often the case that the project manager will be held to account if the project is deemed to be a failure, but actually the project sponsor is the person truly responsible for the project’s success. If the expectations have not been realistic, if communication has been poor, if the original business need has changed, and if adequate training has not been provided, then this all points to the project sponsor.

Taking this back to grassroots, there could be a cultural problem if the business is not one that is used to embracing change: the people won’t have the motivation to make it work and hence it’s another pointer towards project failure.

The adoption of a strong, centralised project management office (PMO) allows for the transfer of knowledge and sharing. Knowledge-sharing and best practice will help ensure the future success of projects.

If this is led with a good PMO director and appropriate, experienced project managers, not just certified project managers (as this only shows they understand a method), then at least the risk of failure is minimised. Again, interim managers can be engaged to set this up.

Ensuring project success is not easy. If it was, there would be far fewer failed projects. There are, however, good practices to adopt in order to minimise the risk of failure. If the proper planning, communication and governance is adhered to, stakeholders’ expectations are properly managed and the right business requirements have been set, then you stand a fighting chance.

After all, nobody sets out to fail or to do a poor job, but one of the key ingredients is to spot the warning signs and act immediately. If that means bringing in an additional resource, then it could be money well spent.

For a confidential discussion about how Macallam Interim & Executive Search can help rescue your project, call 01423 704153, email or visit >>

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