Six secrets of a successful interim assignment

Based on a well-considered choice between a permanent hire and an interim manager, a company opts for the latter. Interim managers are slightly more expensive, but the numerous advantages outweigh the costs. Besides, the company has made an investment and therefore expects to see quick results. Apart from the advantages of having an interim manager, the way in which the company approaches the task is also crucial, especially if it wants to see that long-awaited increase in the ROI. These six secrets are guaranteed to make any interim management assignment a great success.

Interim Management
Dirk Smits

1. Looking for the right interim manager

Finding the right match for the organisation forms the basis of a good working relationship. To do this, Hudson follows a method consisting of three steps.

  1. Intake: during this step, the expectations and needs of the organisation are identified, taking into account the required competencies and skills and the corporate culture. This step results in a very detailed briefing.
  2. Database screening: based on the briefing, the consultants start screening the database to find the specific person who can contribute the necessary added value to the company. Having a high-quality database that is constantly updated is important for this step.
  3. Search & classification of files: finally, the selected candidates are invited for an interview. When a consultant is certain that a match has been found, a report is prepared. In this report, Hudson provides both a summarised as well as a detailed description of why the candidate is the right person for the job. Subsequently, a meeting is organised between the company and the candidate. This entire procedure takes a maximum of two weeks.

2. Good agreements make for good relationships

After the completion of the selection process, the interim manager enters the scene and it’s time for action. After just one week, Hudson’s interim managers come up with a plan of action, based on their observations. If this is not the case with other providers, you should request that your interim manager proceeds in this manner. Try to discuss together, as thoroughly as possible, what is expected and by when.

Generally, the interim manager sets to work fairly soon. So make sure to notify your team in time about their new temporary colleague. It is important that everyone in the team is aware of the interim manager’s function and tasks. This guarantees an efficient start and avoids any unnecessary disruption.

3. Growth potential

An interim manager is hired for his or her knowledge and experience and the value that he or she can add. Ensure that the interim manager is able to reach his or her full potential by giving him or her the necessary responsibilities and authority. This can be done based on a well-defined plan of action. The main tasks of an interim manager are to implement and bring about change. And for this, he or she must have the necessary freedom.

One of the most important qualities of an interim manager are his or her management skills. Offer him or her the possibility to introduce structure or carry out restructuring where necessary, based on concrete deliverables and a clear context. Talk to the interim manager and see what is needed to implement the changes discussed in the original plan.

Another strength of the interim manager is his or her ability to quickly identify risks and hazards and immediately provide a solution based on his or her experience and knowledge. A company should try to take advantage of this and ensure that the interim manager can provide input where necessary.

4. Communication is essential

Meet regularly with your interim manager and make sure the provider is also present each time. Without feedback, an interim manager cannot make the right decisions within the company. Therefore, it is also important to regularly review the plan of action, discuss how the interim manager intends to handle an implementation and identify the right tactics to avoid certain risks.

It is important to share the progress made by the interim manager and document everything.

5. Embracing the expertise of an interim manager

Qualifications and experience are often perceived as a threat within an organisation. But since the interim manager has no ties to the company, he or she has no political agenda. And that is precisely why a company can and must ask for clear information and a critical opinion on everything.

Actions based on such information can have a major impact on the business or will perhaps be relevant for future changes. If necessary, an interim manager may also take unpopular decisions and tell uncomfortable truths. But these are always in the best interest of the company.

6. Legacy of an interim manager

Although their presence in the company is likely to be for a short time only, interim managers have a significant impact on the business and thus leave behind a legacy. So it is important that you ask them to document their activities in as much detail as possible. Feel free to ask them to share every bit of knowledge they may have. In this way, their contribution is acknowledged, and besides, it only involves a small effort on their part to provide all the necessary information.


Whatever the function served by an interim manager and the reason why he or she accepts an assignment in your company, make sure that he or she is able to use his or her full potential and make a difference.

Remember what Steve Jobs once said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

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