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July 28, 2014

How to Make Best Use of Interim Executives

Posted 4 years 207 days ago by Alison Harrison

An interim executive provides a short term boost of expertise, insight and innovation for a company. Agility is key, which means taking ownership while resisting the danger of becoming bogged down in day-to-day execution.


It’s quite the tightrope to walk, and there are best practices that can help both the manager and the company to get the most out of an interim experience. A recent article by Cindy Lubitz in Talent Management magazine took a look.


First, do no harm
According to Julian Birkshaw, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the London Business School, the Hippocratic Oath is key. “Every executive, whether permanent or interim, should have those four words etched on the back of their iPhone,” he says. “So when starting a new job, your first priority is to figure out what is already working—without your input—that needs to be maintained. Then plot the minimal number of interventions you need to make to sort out the problems.” Less truly is more in the world of interim executives!


Don’t fall in love
The client also has a clear role in ensuring a successful engagement. It’s vital to have a an agreed upon defined scope and an understanding of exactly what constitutes success in the short period the interim executive will be on board. This allows the executive to make best use of his or her expertise and use the early days of the engagement to develop critical relationships. Clients should beware of scope creep which can easily dilute the value of bringing in an interim talent for a specific reason.


“Near the 9-12 month mark, interim executives become embedded in the organization’s culture and the team begins to rely on them in areas not initially envisaged,” says Cindy. “If there isn’t a clear demarcation of the role at that time, the lines begin to blur, and it becomes just as disruptive when that person leaves as if they were a permanent executive.”


Finding the right match between interim executive and the client is a skill, but when it works, it can really boost the success of a business and enhance the reputation of the executive. What’s your experience of this kind of role? Share your views in the comments.

Tags: consulting c-suite executive Interim

Categories: categoryConsulting

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