Tips for how interim managers can add more value

28 April 2021 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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The number of interim managers in the UK is rising steadily, with a growing number of (experienced) consultants and professionals offering their services as an independent interim manager. With years of interim experience under his belt, Rorie Devine shares several tips how interim managers can deliver maximum value. 

The first (and maybe obvious) tip for interim managers is to choose the right role. Don’t set yourself up for failure by taking an interim consulting role with a team size, company culture or business model you’re not absolutely confident you can add real value to. Ultimately what you “sell” is your reputation and track record — don’t be tempted to risk it by taking on a role you’re not 100% right for.

Once you have found the right role, and before you start, make sure you are very clear about the brief. Make sure you really understand what success will look like in the potential role. Sometimes companies want a change agent, but sometimes they just want an interim consultant to “act like they got the job for real” and do their “sensible best”. 

Rorie Devine, Experienced Interim Manager

Make sure you understand whether you will need to be a good cultural fit or being counter-cultural is one of the reasons why they want to hire you.

When you start, get the basics right; always arrive on time and dress similarly to the prevailing dress code in the team. At the early stages of any assignment make sure you don’t write cheques you can’t cash by promising un-achievable things. There is no surer way of destroying your credibility (and making enemies of other people) than by promising things that can’t be delivered. 

It’s a subtle situation though – you may have been brought in to increase urgency and delivery so any goals you agree need to be ambitious but achievable. 

Never make the mistake of joining with a “here’s the solution… now tell me about the problem” approach. In your first week interim consulting try and meet as many people in the team as possible. It’s important for you to get to know the team, and them to get to know you, so schedule 30-minute interviews with each team member to ask the sort of questions that will create a picture of what you’re walking into. 

In my own experience, I found it effective to end the first week of a new interim consulting assignment with a ‘Week One Playback’ with the person that sponsored the appointment. It’s a great opportunity to discuss the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) found so far and calibrate it against what the sponsor wants. 

Remember to add value to your interim consulting client in any way you can as well. It’s not just about the goals. Doing things like sharing their job postings on LinkedIn, mentioning them in any interviews you do, retweeting their tweets, liking their Facebook page, and so on, all help. 

Don’t “penny pinch” the client either. What “goes around comes around” so if taking a phone call or sending a quick email in non-client chargeable time helps solve a problem or keep momentum up then do it. You’ll be judged on your impact at the end of the day. You know when you’ve achieved your interim consulting goals or hit the diminishing returns point on the value curve. 

Proactively suggest a new way to add value to the client if one is appropriate, or move on to your next interim consulting challenge with another successful engagement under your belt. 

To make s success of interim consulting you need to choose the right role, deliver as much value as you can, and then move on as soon as you’ve delivered the necessary business impact.