Interim management has become a familiar aspect of both SMEs and larger businesses. Among smaller businesses, however, there are often still misconceptions about interim managers, ranging from ideas that they are expensive and just to be used as a last resort to beliefs that they only offer temporary solutions and are less committed. In fact, the opposite is true. In this article, we debunk five stubborn misunderstandings about interim management.
Assuming that interim managers are more expensive than permanent staff because of their higher hourly rates is comparing apples with oranges. After all, when you compare the total costs of an interim manager with those of a permanent employee, other factors need to be taken into account. Interim managers bring their expertise and experience to the company with them, meaning they can get results more quickly than new, permanent staff. Bringing in an interim manager also eliminates the cost of recruiting and training permanent staff members. In addition, an interim manager can start work quickly. That’s an advantage in urgent situations when there is no time for a long recruitment and onboarding process. And because interim managers are deployed flexibly for temporary assignments, companies only pay for the time and work that are really necessary. Finally, the recruitment of a permanent employee who turns out to be not the right fit works out more expensive than getting the perfect ‘plug and play’ solution immediately, in the form of an interim manager. The cost of wrong hires is more expensive across the board, not just in terms of time and money. Recruiting the wrong person often has a negative impact on their colleagues – and it’s impossible to put a price tag on that.
The fact that interim managers are not looking for a permanent job doesn’t mean they are not committed to helping companies achieve their long-term goals. They are often extremely dedicated to the success of the organisation they are working for, precisely because they are only working on a project for a limited period. As experienced professionals, interim managers understand the importance of delivering results on time. This makes them highly motivated to achieve the company’s targets. And if the project takes longer than expected, an interim manager will demonstrate loyalty in continuing the assignment until the goals have been reached. Furthermore, interim managers bring a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas to an organisation, which may reinforce their involvement and motivation. They are passionate about adding value and making an impact. They also understand that their reputation and future opportunities depend on their performance and achievements. That is why they go to such great lengths for the company they are currently working for, just like permanent staff.
Interim managers are not only brought in as a last resort to put out fires. They can be used to reach strategic goals, lead change processes and add specific expertise to the organisation that may not yet be available. It is true that interim managers are often deployed for restructuring, mergers, takeovers, implementing new systems, change processes and the like. However, they do not consider these to be emergencies, but rather opportunities to contribute actively to the growth and success of a company. Interim managers are not mere crisis managers, but also experts who contribute their experience to companies to improve processes, systems, tools and teams and take them to the next level.
Due to the temporary nature of their assignments and the flexibility and variety that interim managers are looking for, it is true that they don’t stay in one company for years at a time. However, that doesn’t mean they pay no attention to the company culture. Interim managers are actually very aware of how important it is to understand company culture if their assignment is to succeed. Many of them indicate that they would rather pass up on projects than accept an assignment in a company or sector that doesn’t feel like a good cultural match. Interim managers go to great lengths to understand the customs and values of an organisation, since doing so paves the way to good communication, collaboration and achieving the targets. Understanding the corporate culture enables them to respond more effectively to the organisation’s needs and integrate themselves smoothly into the team. That allows them to flourish in their role and derive great satisfaction from it, further increasing their motivation.
This is perhaps the biggest misconception of them all, because it ignores the results that many companies have achieved by deploying interim managers. In fact, no less than 98% of our projects are rated very highly by our clients. Although the appointment of interim managers is temporary, this doesn’t mean their contribution to the company cannot have a lasting impact. They often bring new perspectives, strategies and best practices that have a positive influence on the company culture, processes and performance in the long term. An interim manager frequently acts as a catalyst for positive change and growth within an organisation. Furthermore, interim managers can continue to have a lasting impact even after their assignment has ended, by passing on their knowledge and experience to the internal team. That way, they leave a legacy behind – and the organisation can continue to reap the rewards.
Discover more insights on interim management in the Belgian labor market in our white paper.