Businesses, facing an ever-increasing variety of complex problems, are in desperate need of good interim managers to help solve them. Such positions are highly rewarding, with the opportunity to explore new places, meet new people – and fill your plate with a steady diet of fascinating challenges.
Perhaps you’ve considered entering this growing field and becoming one of these people who jump into new companies at their moment of need, solve their problems and move on to the next sticky situation. Maybe it’s time to stop imagining this challenging lifestyle and think about making it a reality. So, what do you need to be in order to become an interim manager?
Why do companies seek interim managers?
Companies seek interim management services to fulfill a variety of needs that lie outside the expertise of their existing staff. Three of these reasons are tied to desired change within the company. One is tied to convenience.
Managing a turnaround
When firms undergo a crisis, they may seek interim managers who have experience troubleshooting – and solving – such problems. This kind of interim is the true Lone Ranger of the interim industry, riding in, setting things right and then riding off to the solve the next company’s problems.
This kind of interim requires an exceptional level of problem-solving skills and innovative thinking to pull the company through an unexpected crisis or shake it out of overall stagnation. It also requires the ability to quickly build consensus around solutions and lead staff in successfully implementing them.
Managing structural change
When organizations undergo strategic change, they may seek interim managers who have experience with that change. This change can involve external entities, such as with a merger, acquisition or disposal of the firm or its units. Or it could involve purely internal change, such as a major restructuring, reorganization or launching the company in a new direction.
This kind of interim requires extensive experience navigating the change in which the company is engaged. Experience in the company’s industry is also a strong plus.
When firms incorporate new technologies or enter other unfamiliar territory, they may seek interim managers to fill the knowledge gaps among the firms’ employees. These interims work towards fulfilling whatever tasks are needed to complete the project.
This kind of interim needs extensive skill in the element that the firm seeks to incorporate, as well as strong teaching and leadership skills to bring employees up to speed.
Filling vacant positions
When firms experience the unexpected unavailability of key personnel, they may seek interim managers to fill those vacant posts as a stopgap solution until the regular manager returns or the firm can find a permanent replacement. These interims simply carry out the job responsibilities of the vacant position.
That doesn’t mean that this kind of interim position requires no special skills, though. In addition to requiring a high degree of proficiency in the position he or she fills, the interim requires a great deal of flexibility to step into someone else’s shoes, quickly develop a rapport with other employees and keep things running smoothly until the position is filled.
Required base skills
Interim managers are normally specialists in their field, with extensive knowledge and relevant experience in the company’s industry. Overall, they play diverse roles in an organization. From handling crisis situations to introducing new technologies to keeping things afloat while a permanent solution is obtained, an interim manager must be quick, intelligent and fast to assess the situation.
In addition, interims need soft skills so they can manage the people with whom they work. Because they join a company for a short time, these skills play an extremely important role in their ability to successfully complete the job.
Other important skills
In addition, when an interim joins a new organization, he or she must quickly adapt to the corporate culture. Interims often arrive during a crisis. Thus, ability to adapt to the external environment is critical to success.
One of the most difficult tasks interims face is introducing change to the organization. To achieve this, the interim’s interpersonal skills must be very strong. He or she not only must lead, organize and motivate people but, at the same time, ensure that the job is completed per schedule.
Also important are speed and efficiency in solving the problem. This requires extensive experience with and knowledge about attaining the desired results
Finally, an interim manager must master the art of moving on. With the position tied to a specific goal, closing the book on one challenge and starting anew on the next is what being an interim manager is all about.
Companies are becoming increasingly specialized. That creates a need for people who can formulate ideas and solve problems quickly. The job of interim manager offers the reward of being able to constantly test yourself against almost limitless new challenges.
In other words, it provides a perfect opportunity to exercise your mastery of your field, your ability to assess situations correctly and your skill in delivering quick results. If these qualities describe you, the position of interim manager might be a good match for you.
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Marin Ivezic is a career interim manager and the founder of InterimManagement.com