Written by Anna Bernstein on 02 Mar 2015
There are a number of reasons why an interim manager might be appointed. They could be assigned to bring a specialist skillset following the departure of a key member of staff, or most likely they will be appointed in a transformational capacity in order to actualise a turnaround within a short period of time. The scope of the project will be determined during the initial contact with the client and the boundaries will be set. In the latter situation where an interim manager has been appointed, the first 48 hours are a crucial time.
During this period, the interim manager must learn all the key facts about the business and determine the needs of the company moving forward. While every manager will have their own approach, this will generally involve talking to key personnel as well as conducting their own investigation in discover the root causes of any problem in order to develop a strategy for change.
An interim manager exists outside the politics of an organisation and this allows them to see things others cannot and also act with independence to resolve the situation. Interviewing staff is a crucial part of an initial investigation, but the answers they provide cannot necessarily be relied upon to reveal the full picture. This is not necessarily due to them deliberately misleading the interim manager, but they may not always be aware of the bigger picture. Similarly, those close to the situation have lost perspective and may no longer be able to see the obvious roots of the problems.
An interim management situation can be unsettling for employees, and each will want to reassure the manger that their work is invaluable to the future success of the company. While a personable approach can produce rich rewards, an interim manager is not there to make friends or to satisfy individual agendas but must always think of the bigger picture and the future of the company.
It’s important to differentiate between the reality of any situation and how that’s been described. It may be the case that everything is straightforward but that must be determined. It may turn out to be the case that the books tell a different story from the individual parties. If there are discrepancies, then the interim manager must ascertain why this is the case. While these may seem like unhelpful barriers, an experienced interim manager will be able to use every piece of information in order to diagnose the problems at hand.
Throughout this initial process, the interim manager must balance the client expectations, which will have been set during a pre-assignment briefing, with the intended response to the discovered problems. Interim managers come with a wealth of experience, knowledge and usually a proven track record. Turnaround will be quick and the results dramatic but they are not miracle workers. An interim manager can only work within the existing structure and while they will make a dramatic and positive transformation to any business, it might not always be the change for which the client hopes.
Speed is of the essence in any interim management assignment and during this stage, as well as conducting a detailed analysis of the company, many quick fixes can also be implemented and immediate issues addressed. This can help buy a little more time to address the larger issues harming the company.
Once the interim manager has completed the detailed analysis and diagnosed all of the problems, it is time to move onto the proposal stage. This will be the culmination of the entire diagnosis process and will result in a document featuring a detailed step by step plan to take the company from a transitional period to a sustainable future.
This is just the first step in the interim management process and often rectifying the problems can be more challenging than identifying them, but with a clear plan in place, and an experienced manager leading the process, these difficult steps can begin a long journey towards success.
To find out what an interim manager can do for your business then call us today on 0202 7373 5610 or email us via our contact page.