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Coping with Change -
The role of the Interim Manager

 


Somebody once said that there will be more change in the next five years than there has been during the past 50. And against a background of a volatile global economy and a massive slowdown in business globalisation, it's not hard to agree.

Change can provide businesses with the opportunity to explore new directions, enter new markets or maybe even merge with a competitor to increase overall market standing. It can, in some cases, even be the key to survival. In fact, most successful enterprises are in a constant state of change - if they are not in transition then they are stagnating.

Adding to the in-house management skills

Change can also provide many businesses with major headaches, especially if they do not have the right people to help facilitate the change process. While the best companies usually have top quality executive management, implementing a programme of change often requires that the permanent management team needs to be augmented with specialists.

In fact, ensuring that a business or organisation has executives of the right calibre, with skills and experience to develop the product or service, while at the same time managing the company, can be a difficult if not impossible task anyway. As a result, many forward-thinking organisations are now turning towards interim management as the perfect solution to the problem.

After all, Interim Managers (IMs) are hands-on executives, managers and consultants with substantial experience and a proven track record. And far from being 'has-beens' or 'in between jobs', modern IMs have chosen interim management as a career that offers unequalled challenges and satisfactions.

What Interim Managers do

Modern IMs can be used to manage a project, manage change, give additional support to implement a business opportunity, give support when existing management are absent or fully-stretched, or to simply improve overall business performance. Another crucial benefit is that they focus exclusively on the task in hand, they can mentor and coach as well as manage and, unlike many in-house executives, they have no hidden political agenda

They can be full time or part time and for as long as you need. They can also perform a wide range of job functions in all industry sectors and often operate as non-executive directors.

While interim management, as a recognisable service, began in the Netherlands in the 1970s in response restrictive Dutch labour laws, it only began to gain momentum in the UK a decade later. And although the service has developed rapidly during the past few years its development has not been in the media spotlight. The result is that many organisations and individuals are only now coming across the concept for the first time.

Despite having a low profile, conservative estimates put the current UK spend on IMs at more than 400million per annum, of which in excess of 70% is being spent on the services of individuals networking directly with others. It is estimated an interim manager working in the UK is paid an average of between 500-600 per day and earns over 70K per annum for just six months work.

Overcoming the doubts

Despite the many benefits and advantages of using an IM, some companies have been reluctant to employ them as they felt that their use implied criticism of existing management. So they have often muddled through start-up, transition, integration, acquisition or divestment programmes using in-house resources.

Some managers have simply refused to ask for help, viewing such a move as a sign of weakness. Yet in reality it's a strength and a sign of maturity as the very best managers always know when to pull in additional or specialised resources.

Other objections have included concerns about the internal and external communications challenge; doubts over whether an IM would fit into an existing team; doubts that the IM won't understand the business, industry, culture or politics; concerns about loss of control and the biggest concern of all, can an IM be trusted with confidential information?

The fact that IMs are hand-picked for each assignment and are always substantially over-qualified for the task they are being assigned should answer most of the concerns of organisations which have not previously employed their services. And as working as an IM is now a way of life for most of those undertaking to provide the service, each IM depends on their personal reputation for their next job. So, outstanding quality and professionalism is assured.

Hands-on experience

After working as an interim manager myself I found that the typical recruitment agency did not always understand the needs of the client or the IM.

I felt that a radical new approach was needed to bring interim management closer to the needs of industry and so I formed Acumen Europa at the end of 2001 with another experienced industry professional, Les Naylor. From the outset, we decided against a swish city centre address. Instead we put customer service first, so we personally meet every client and prospective IM's at a location convenient for them, such as at a local business centre. These briefings enable us to better understand the needs of both parties which is absolutely essential for a happy and successful working relationship.

From day one we set out to provide business and industry with ready access to managerial talent of the highest calibre who can hit the ground running. And most importantly could be working in your company and making a significant difference within a couple of weeks.

As a result we now have many high quality, experienced senior managers and executives on our books. We can fulfil requirements at all levels from project managers to CEOs in all industry sectors including logistics, utilities, healthcare, transportation, retail, information technology and manufacturing.

Cost-effectiveness

Not only are IMs remarkably cost-effective in terms of delivering results to your business, but their use can also substantially reduce the traditionally start-up and on-going costs and risk to a business. There are no agency commissions usually payable for finding new staff. No company cars to supply. No share schemes to manage and no golden handshakes to finance once the IM has successfully fulfilled their role. IMs are also totally flexible and they can work full time or part time and their contract can be lengthened to meet the demands of your business with no hidden penalties.

You pay an inclusive fee for an Interim Manager and other than daily travel and accommodation expenses where appropriate, there are no other costs. In addition, you only pay for the days actually worked. This compares favourably on a day to day basis with the cost of a permanent manager, particularly when you take into account the cost of NI, pension, holidays, sickness, contractual costs, PAYE and recruitment costs.

At Acumen Europa, the interim management process starts once we have taken a detailed brief from a client. We then identify potential candidates whose experience, background and industry knowledge match the specific requirements of the assignment and then carefully assess their suitability and, of course, their availability. Once this process is completed we then present a shortlist of suitable candidates and arrange for the client to interview the candidates to see who has the 'best fit' for their business.

As many businesses are only just now discovering the benefits that interim management can provide, the industry itself has a long way to go in the way it provides a service and the perceived benefits of these services. However, it's clearly a superb 21st Century management tool and in the current climate of change and uncertainly there has never been a better time to discover what benefits a quality IM can bring to your business.

When organisations identify a need to change, a key constraint is that they may not have the skills in-house to implement change.

In this article, Chris Rogers outlines the benefits of Interim Management as a means of bringing in to an organisation the necessary skills and experience.

For further information contact:

Chris Rogers
Director
Acumen Europa
13 The Haydens
Tonbridge
Kent
TN9 1NS
UK

Tel: +44 (0)7977 065515
Fax: +44 (01732 368523

Email: crogers@
acumeneuropa.com

 

 

"implementing a programme of change often requires that the permanent management team needs to be augmented with specialists"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"it's a strength and a sign of maturity knowing when to pull in additional or specialised resources"

 

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