Interim or project resources have become a familiar part of both small and larger business life as team resources become leaner and change projects more specialised. However, there are often misconceptions about using highly specialist interim or project managers as subject matter experts within your business. Far from being a temporary solution, you are buying into expertise and experience, best-in-class knowledge and implementation know-how because they have ‘done it before’. In this article, Adam Al-Badry, Regional Director at Robert Half, debunks five misunderstandings about the most specialist of contractors in your business.
Assuming that interim managers are more expensive than permanent staff because of their higher hourly rates is comparing apples with oranges. When comparing the total costs of an interim manager with those of a permanent employee, other factors ought to be taken into account. Interim or project resources bring their real-word expertise and experience to your company with them, meaning they deliver results more quickly than existing resources. Bear in mind that it also eliminates the cost of redeploying or training permanent staff members for the delivery of urgent and critical projects. You will also find a highly specialist contractor can pick up the reins quickly. That’s an advantage when time is an issue bearing in mind the length of the recruitment and onboarding processes. And since interim managers are deployed flexibly for time-bound assignments when you really need the added expertise, you only pay for the time and work that are really necessary. Recruiting the wrong person often has a negative impact on their colleagues and the success of your business transformation projects – and it’s impossible to put a price tag on that. Read more: Recruitment experts reveal the most in-demand skills for 2024 per sector
The fact that specialist contractors or consultants are not looking for a permanent job doesn’t mean they are less committed to helping your enterprise achieve its long-term goals. They are often extremely dedicated to the success of the project or organisation they are working for, precisely because they are only working on a project for a set period. As experienced professionals, we find our specialist contractors understand more than anyone the importance of delivering results in highly complex situations. This makes them highly motivated to achieve targets.  More than anything, interim or project resources act like a consultant in your business bringing a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas to challenges. They understand that adding value and making an impact are part of the role. They appreciate that their personal reputation and future opportunities depend on their performance. That is why we find that they go to such great lengths for the company they are currently working for.
Today, interim or projects resources are not brought in as a last resort or to put out fires. They can and should be used to reach strategic goals, lead change management and add specific expertise to the organisation with skills and know-how 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, many will take the long-term view and not consider these to be emergencies, but rather opportunities to contribute to the growth of your company. If you treat contractors as crisis managers you will miss the point that they are subject matter experts who bring their experience from best-in-class competitors to improve processes, systems, tools and teams. Read more: Workforces and workplaces: how leaders can prepare for the future of work
Due to the fixed-term nature of their assignments and the flexibility and variety that specialist contractors are looking for, it is true that these individuals choose not to stay in one company for years at a time. However, that doesn’t mean they pay no attention to company culture. Robert Half’s subsidiary Protiviti, a leader in change management and digitisation projects, has shown that specialist contractors, like business management consultants, are acutely aware of the importance of the role company culture – and employee engagement - plays in today’s successful project implementations. In fact, we have heard many interim professionals would not be willing to accept an assignment in a company known for poor company culture and controversial social impact. For today’s professional contractors, the values of an organisation pave the way to good communication and collaboration. They can respond more intuitively to the organisation’s needs and for many, this further increases their engagement.
This is perhaps the biggest misconception of them all. In fact, no less than 98% of our projects are rated very highly by our clients. Although the appointment of subject matter experts may be temporary, their contribution to the company can only have a lasting impact. Acting as a consultant inside your firm, they can bring new perspectives, strategies and best practices to your management – and that can have a positive influence on your culture, processes and performance in the long term. At best, we like to think that an interim or project resource frequently acts as a catalyst for positive change and growth within an organisation. And let’s not forget that specialist interim talent will continue to have a lasting, indirect impact even after their assignment has ended, by passing on their expert knowledge and know-how to your internal team. That’s way, they leave a legacy behind – and the organisation can continue to reap the rewards. Read more: The future of hiring: 5 recruitment trends that will define 2024
More on Management Resources    Need help managing a business change project, solving complex challenges or transforming your business? Robert Half helps businesses find top talent in the market to fill mission critical positions on a project basis. In the rapidly changing world where digitisation and business change management are essential, we specialise in providing senior level subject matter experts in the accounting, finance and technology fields, including chief financial officers, controllers, senior financial analysts, internal auditors, and business systems analysts.