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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.