What is an interim executive?
There are many definitions, but most agree that interim executives are highly experienced professionals at the senior leadership level who are employed on a short-term basis (typically six to 18 months) to provide effective business solutions, particularly to drive change or transition.
The term is sometimes wrongly used to describe middle and lower management short-term contract roles. In fact, interim managers have very specific experience and skills to manage a project, from start to finish. They must also meet very high expectations and standards by the management and leadership team.
The role of an interim executive is assigned when the existing C-suite executives or directors are leaving the organisation or when there is an urgent need for the company to hire someone with a specific skill set or experience to manage a delicate situation, like a business restructuring or merger.
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Interim executive roles serve as a good opportunity to develop leadership skills within a short period of time. However, they may not be suited for everyone. The assignment can be fast-paced and intense, so an effective interim manager must be well-qualified for the role, with a strong, proven track record and competencies that match the high demands of the job.
Why do companies hire interim management?
Companies hire interim executives for their expertise to change the organisation for the best. The interim manager’s main job is to gain an understanding of the business challenges and resolve them effectively to help the organisation meet their goals. They typically possess a growth mindset, along with strong capabilities and agility to resolve new challenges as they occur.
Interim managers are also well-versed in stakeholder management and relationship-building and can adapt quickly to different company cultures. This allows them to easily navigate the business to make swift decisions right from their first day.
Companies often hire interim executives to plan and execute a digital transformation strategy or business restructure. Think of them as multi-skilled project managers – to be a good interim manager is to have the capability to devise a strategy or solution and implement it across the entire organisation.
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7 reasons to accept interim roles and step in as an interim manager
1. More time for yourself
Interim management jobs give you the option to take a career break between jobs, offering greater flexibility than permanent roles. You will be able to take extended time off when a project finishes, which is ideal for travelling or upskilling between work commitments. Interim managers typically work full-time, between six and 18 months.
2. Laser focus on your tasks
The great thing about being in a short-term role like an interim manager is that you can focus on the specific task list and give it your all during your tenure. As you are only in the hot seat for a while, you can solely focus on your critical tasks without getting distracted by new things being added to your plate. Very few roles come with that sort of privilege.
3. Gain more relevant experience
While you come into the role with lots of experience, you will also learn a variety of new skills in an interim management role. You will draw on past experiences, but adapt them to fit the company and its needs. With each new challenge, you’ll get to learn invaluable lessons and meet new people. This will be a great opportunity for you to network and build on your connections too.
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4. Feel more motivated
Sometimes in a full-time, permanent role managing different projects, you may lack the motivation to perform on a day-to-day basis, especially if you’ve been in the role for a long time. But being drafted into a role like this means you can fire on all cylinders for the duration of the stint. As your success will largely be measured by the outcomes you need to deliver on, you will feel more driven to achieve outstanding results during that limited timeframe.
5. Active involvement to deliver impactful results
An interim executive usually works only with an internal team that has been drafted to collaborate with or support you on very specific tasks. Each team member is focused on one central goal to deliver the desired outcome. Without the distraction of external agencies or vendors, you have complete control over the quality of the output.
6. Build a good reputation
If you perform well in the job, this opportunity can do wonders for your career and even open doors to other interim management roles. Delivering positive results in a short period of time will earn you a solid reputation as a strong leader or an efficient cost manager. This interim role will also be a great achievement to include in your resume.
7. Develop speed and agility
In this fast-paced business world, speed and agility can make a big difference between success and failure. But if you’re too familiar with the role you have, it can be hard to stay on your toes all the time. Interim management roles can present fresh challenges that help you develop that much-desired speed and agility.
Is there a demand for interim managers?
Interim management is a growing force in the management space. Already, many companies have set a fixed term for their C-suite executives to ensure that there are always fresh perspectives and a steady succession plan within the organisation.
The corporate world is far more dynamic thanks to rapid technological advancements and digital disruptions, so being highly agile is vital to an employer. There has been a growing number of companies hiring interim executives in recent years, as many are making significant changes to the structure of their operations to keep pace with changing market demands. Those with specific skills and experience in managing organisational change, business restructuring and crisis management are highly sought-after.
There are many benefits to taking on a role as an interim executive, both professionally and personally. You will improve your interpersonal skills, emotional maturity and flexibility in your approach to work while learning how to navigate different cultures and boardrooms.
If you’re interested in exploring the roles of an interim manager or interim executive, now is the best time to do it.
This article is contributed by Randstad Singapore.