How to Find the Right Interim Manager for Your SME

Businesses of all sizes have times when an injection of expertise from an interim manager (or even an interim team) with heavyweight business experience would be useful.  If you can’t afford, or don’t need a permanent employee one option worth considering seriously is hiring an interim manager.  The flexibility of bringing in a manager with depth of experience for a short period can generate invaluable results.  Pick wisely and you find someone with the skills to analyse your business needs and get up and running quickly.

Getting ready for an interim appointment

  1. Identify providers

Look for a number of interim providers, ask for recommendations and speak to interims you already admire – either in your sector or elsewhere.

  1. Establish relationships

Establish and build relationships with good quality interim providers and get a feel for what they can offer. The provider needs to understand your business. Once they do you will have the confidence they can find you the interim you need.

  1. Get an emergency staffing policy in place

Ensure you have a current company policy and procedure for emergency staffing. It is always good to have a contingency plan. You want to be able to minimise damage if you lose a key employee.

  1. Consider insurance

Does your company have sufficient insurance, for example key-man insurance? If a key person leaves or is ill such insurance can cover the costs of hiring an interim manager. So it might be worth your while to get this insurance in place.

Now you’ve identified a need get started

  1. Present a concise brief to your chosen interim management provider. Clear and direct face-to-face communication combined with email will get the best results. This will give the agency a fair chance of understanding the brief and mean they can identify appropriate, high quality candidates who genuinely can deliver what you need. (You don’t want someone just because the CV superficially ticks the boxes).
  1. Write a clear job description and include very specific skills and characteristics you need your Interim to have. You want the person to fit the company culture and the team.
  1. Discuss the milestones and deadlines for the hiring process with your provider so your expectations are realistic.
  1. Take care deciding the assignment length. For example, is it for two months or nine to 12 months?
  1. Budget carefully. If you drive the daily rate down, you’re unlikely to get the quality people or experience you need.
  1. Plan how you will integrate the interim into the team. Identify someone for the interim manager to report to who can establish regular times to liaise so there is supportive and constructive communication. You also need a system to ensure that your interim manager is achieving the quality and timeliness of deliverables need.

An interim manager with up-to-date expertise and good communication skills can help you navigate a stormy period, or introduce changes more smoothly and rapidly than your existing team could do alone.

Before your interim manager leaves, engage in a formal process for transfer of knowledge. Perhaps the person can run some training sessions before departing.  You want to make the most of your investment and benefit both short and long-term.

Get this right and hiring an interim manager could be the best business decision you make this year!

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