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May 2024

An interim manager also wants to belong somewhere

An opinion piece by Coen Bos, Partner Interim Solutions at SDH Executive Search.

The temporary, or interim, implementation of expertise involves a market that continues to grow and develop. The need for highly qualified management personalities for specific assignments is only increasing because of the dynamics in the business world, which are increasing rapidly in speed and unpredictability. However, this also brings challenges for interim managers themselves, who also experience high pressure and the need to develop continuously due to these dynamics. So, does an interim manager feel comfortable when he or she is at a certain distance from the assignment and the client? It seems that way, but in this day and age, every interim manager definitely wants to be part of a bigger whole in order to grow from there.

The interim management market is growing, and a decline is predicted for the time being. Recent research by the Council for Interim Management and ZIPconomy proves this. Scarcity on the labor market is cited as the main reason, but at the same time we are seeing that the range of application fields is expanding. There is a wider need for various kinds of expertise and personalities for complex situations. Sometimes the decks have to be cleared forcefully, in order to develop further. Other times, a process needs to be optimized using the specific eye of someone who devotes his or her entire working life to it. Or maybe a chair at top level needs to be kept warm until a final successor is found.

The interim manager as a professional

Wherever an interim manager comes into the scene there is, invariably, a need for specialist knowledge, problem-solving ability, and decisiveness that leads to influential results. The rapid change of gear and strategic vision that come with this are not everyone's cup of tea. Generally, therefore, an interim manager is overqualified for the task at hand, and that’s necessary. Overqualified does not mean you have done it all before. Moreover, it is about the “toolbox” you have created from the “span of control” you have had, about the life lessons where you had to learn from precarious situations, and/or your unique expertise in a specific niche.

In particular, it is the combination of that toolbox and its flexible implementation that makes interim management so special. An interim manager must be able to switch quickly, and be able to anchor himself in a company from day one in order to be taken seriously and radiate trust. Therefore, interim management is definitely a profession and an interim manager is nothing less than a professional.

However, with this rosy future for the interim industry comes a warning. The dynamics in the current economic climate and the quirks of the VUCA world are forcing interim managers to be vigilant and even more flexible. For example, as an interim manager it is important to be employable in different sectors, there is increasing emphasis on the importance of soft skills, and personal branding is an absolute must. Who you are as a person is often as important as what you can do. This is where many interim managers still have a lot of potential in terms of professional development.

A platform to excel

In almost all cases, an interim manager is brought in after consultation with an agency. This agency matches the right interim manager to an assignment and an organization on the basis of expertise and personality. There is a clear trend in this process. Traditionally, agencies are transaction-oriented and withdraw once all signatures have been signed, but there is a new generation that maintains a connection with both clients and interim managers, and invests in the interim managers from their network. This kind of agency that develops into a platform where interim managers can expand their interim expertise, find a safety net for complex situations and build a network with their peers, is the future.

This fits perfectly with the dynamics of the current economic climate, but also with the basic need of every human being to want to belong somewhere. It is part of an interim manager’s work that on the shop floor he or she does not feel completely part of the organization where an assignment is to be carried out. For the high expectations inherent in the job, the continuous obligation to perform and the need to stay relevant, there are great opportunities in the safety net that agencies can provide. A bigger picture that as an interim manager you can be a part of and find a safe haven to leave from, but also come back to, is what will only make interim management of the future better.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Partner Interim Solutions, SDH Executive Search










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