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As Principal Consultant of Hudson’s Interim Management department, Karl Moeremans has witnessed the growing success of interim managers over the past five years. Here he presents the most important changes and evaluates to what extent there is a future for interim management.
It is clear that interim management has gained in stature over the past five years. An interim manager does much more than merely supervise tasks. The job is now clearly more versatile, where an experienced interim manager is expected to apply his or her entire range of knowledge and expertise. So does this mean the end of business continuity tasks? Certainly not! But even in cases where continuity is essential, we find that customers want more: they also expect the interim manager to monitor and adjust ongoing activities. Often one thing leads to another, and the task itself becomes more multifaceted than initially foreseen.
Interim managers are no longer merely seen as crisis managers. Earlier, interim management was too often equated with crisis management. Naturally, this continues to be one of the tasks of an interim manager, but the nature of the commitment has become more varied. Today, interim managers are increasingly involved in the resource planning of a company. This - along with the project-based approach described above - is undoubtedly an advantage for all parties involved. More than ever, customers expect added value from interim managers and require them to make optimal use of their skills and experience.
Since an interim manager’s job responsibilities are much more intensive, they also take up more time. Companies prefer a project to be supported until it is completely finished and a period of three months is often too short for this. We see a clear trend towards projects that last for six or twelve months. Once the assignment is complete, there are two options. Either the interim manager is replaced by a payroll employee who takes care of the implementation after the handover or the interim manager is asked to stay on for the implementation phase. Obviously, the second option has an impact on the duration of the assignment.
Many providers are fighting for a place in the interim management market. It is estimated that more than 200 companies are active in this sector. And to get started in this field, you do not even have to be a real professional. All you need is an office and an internet connection. This leads to a phenomenon described as ‘body shopping’, which does not reflect the expectations of most customers. Just as in the case of interim management platforms, the human factor and the culture of the organisation where the temporary manager will work are not taken into account. This is why quality ultimately makes the difference in this dynamic market, where success depends on a razor-sharp understanding of both the task and the company culture. Although the immediate costs will perhaps be somewhat higher, they are not be such an important factor in the end if we are able to meet customer expectations.
Among the many players in the interim management market, we found that there are different types of players: from niche players with a well-defined specialisation to players who offer an entire range of possibilities. The term ‘generalist’ may sound like a bad word, but providers who think in broader terms prefer to hire consultants who are all-rounders. Consultants who also have in-depth experience in managerial positions and are therefore perfectly capable of responding to the diverse and often very complex requirements of their customers. Moreover, this means that customers who want assistance in other disciplines, such as recruitment, assessment, outplacement and transformation management, can contact the same agency for all their needs.
About ten years ago, an interim manager had grey hair or no hair at all. In other words, this involved people over 50. Today the age limit is about 10 years lower. We have already discussed the reasons for this: the tasks have become more versatile and the services of interim managers are called upon for much more than just crisis management. Resource planning has become essential and has contributed to this positive evolution.
In times of crisis, many companies need to undergo a transformation, but often they do not have the right skills internally to do so. That is why the demand for interim managers has only increased. How can I arrive at a completely different approach for my business? That is exactly what interim managers are most experienced at. Moreover, hiring an interim manager is entirely in line with the flexibilisation of the labour market. Today companies even take interim management into account as an essential part of their budget - especially now that the concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’ is gaining in importance. They simply cannot afford to miss the boat. Therefore, they are screening their current teams, reviewing their processes and opting for interim managers to help them take the necessary steps quickly.
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