C-level interim buying guide

January 11, 2017 Alan Watson

This guide provides some advice on the thinking process a senior officer of a company should follow if he or she is considering filling a C-level vacancy with an interim manager. It will cover when you should consider making a role interim, what kind of talent you should be looking for and how to source it.

Why is this important?

Recruiting at C-level is the most critical resourcing process an organisation has to conduct. These roles are where the strategic input for medium and long-term growth and success resides. A lot rides on the calibre and experience of individuals at this level and how they all get along as a team. It is important to assess whether they have the same passion for achieving and if they believe in the same definition of success.

1. When to think about an alternative to a permanent hire

Economic conditions are always variable, but when things pick up, companies and organisations need to react quickly to deliver growth, change and other initiatives. 

At C-level, this need is more acute. You need a resource here that has a “hands on” approach which is specific to the sector and the exact needs at that time.

This need could be setting up a new sales organisation, handling a merger, turning around a loss-making subsidiary, evaluating global IT infrastructure etc. The needs are generally within tight timeframes and assignments can be anything from 3 – 12 months on average.

A key feature of an interim is the sharing of skills and knowledge with the internal team. This is important when others are required to pick up the reigns after the assignment is completed and a strong reason that hiring an interim makes sense.

2. Why an interim?

Interims are available immediately and are highly successful individuals who have gained recognition in their field of technical and /or business expertise. By contrast, those in permanent roles must work notice periods and normally require “honeymoon” periods to get up and running. Interims are focused on delivering a brief and can be expected to be effective from day one.

Interims know that they need to build an internal network quickly so that information can flow to them when required. They are often hired because they are neutral and can provide an unbiased view without any of the baggage that internal candidates might bring. They are not caught up in divisional differences that might endanger significant change programmes or initiatives. They have a lot of experience of different organisations from their historical assignments and this can be valuable to any new ones. 

One more key reason is cost-effectiveness. When you consider that a permanent hire’s costs include bonuses, NI, pension, health insurance and company car benefits, interims provide a considerable saving. This means that they provide incredibly good value for the experience and talent they provide.

3. Why independent consultants make the best interims

Independent consultants can embody a mixture of the features of a traditional consultant or interim. Traditionally, interims implement as well as advise within client organisations and are completely focused on delivering fast results. Consultants, on the other hand, often use copyrighted models and proprietary technology in which to make their valued offering. The benefit of using an independent consultant to fill an interim position is that they can do both things.

Using an independent consultant as an interim is easy as their T’s and C’s are simple and you only pay for the time they are working for you. In many ways, independents can be much more creative with their solutions as they are not bound by the conformity of a firm and have broad industry experience as well.

4. Creating the brief

The brief needs to be very specific for an interim. This way, as the hirer, you know what it is you are expecting to be delivered and the interim is clear in what he or she must deliver. The brief also acts as a go to point of reference, if at any time, either party believe the other to be off course for any reason.

The key points to consider in developing a brief can be summarised as follows.

  • The brief needs to be a clear and structured document, with the following headers:

Introduction to the organisation
Objectives of the assignment
Scope of Work
General conditions
Competencies / Experience required

  • Agree on timeframe
  • Build in regular reviews
  • Share brief with internal team
  • Gain internal support for assignment
  • Promote skills / knowledge transfer from interim

5. Searching for an interim

There are many specialist recruitment consultants in the market, however, the new world of work provides an alternative for clients to access senior C-level interims. Clients now have access to technology that allows them to start to consider doing the search for suitable interims themselves or at the very least have direct contact with the candidates from the get-go. This means they can find the person that is right for them, not the brand that is vying for their attention. Talmix allows you to access talent on demand to match your interim needs. 

There are market pressures which impact on the supply and demand of C-level expertise. In any economic up-cycle the creation of large change management projects can soak up a large element of the supply. Using Talmix means you can access a much bigger pool of talent to ensure that you get the right match for your assignment.

The future of C-level interim positions

According to the Interim Management Association (IMA), the use of interims has increased 93% since 2006 with over 16,000 UK interims at work in senior positions. So if you are considering an interim for a C-level position, be comforted, you are in good company. This is a growing market and is reportedly worth £2 Billion. 

But as more and more top talent goes independent you will need to find a systematic way to manage your interim resourcing. HR directors are discovering that the best way to do this is to mix their talent resources. At Talmix we’ve created technology to bring you the best mix of senior independent talent from a pool of over 27,000, letting you find your interim and get your initiatives off the ground faster and more efficiently.

So, before you pick up the phone and call your favourite headhunter with a tasty staff package, think again. Make the smarter choice and go to Talmix, the home of independent business talent.

About the Author

Alan Watson

Alan has over 25 years experience in the field of HR management and recruitment. He has recruited in several markets, including oil & gas, house building, manufacturing, engineering and power generation. He has also spent some of his time as an interim in the specialist field of job analysis and job descriptions.

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