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What you don’t want to overlook when looking for a capable interim manager

Increasingly, managers and executives work on an interim basis. To be a successful interim executive requires a range of skills. Also, it takes skill to spot one.

You should not only be looking for a track record of delivery at board level, but also for well-rounded experience and a track record of making a difference.

What do you look for when you need an interim director who is critical for the success of your program, your business, or your mission? It depends on the role, but we have identified critical skills for your interim specialist that should not be overlooked.

1. Excellent communication skills

The ability to deliver messages clearly and concisely to a range of stakeholders is crucial. This is especially important when it comes to pushing back and challenging the status quo. As an Interim Manager, you will need to communicate the rationale for your actions, and build support and trust, to gain the respect of your team and other stakeholders. 2. Being able to adapt to different context and uncertain scenarios

Next is being flexible, adaptable, and unfazed under pressure. You need to be able to read between the lines and pick up on messages that are not directly expressed. An interim director needs to appreciate these kinds of “games,” in a sense.

3. Being willing to pitch in, and politically savvy

Rolling up your sleeves, as well as operating politically at board level, is essential for being effective. Sometimes processes can be unconventional. Travel or remote work may be required. You may even need to be flexible on your rate or potential earnings, when a company is in distress.

4. Change management

Transformation, improvement, and change are major aspects of many interim assignments. Typical elements of effective change management include:

Integrated approach

Managing change is a key requirement. Work in synergy with other program workstreams, based on a solid understanding and support of broader business objectives


Ensure that there are no surprises, and that each decision is driven by what needs to be achieved.


Change management requires a true understanding of the business, filtering out unnecessary activities. Be agile and innovative.


Direct your effort where it is most needed, driven from a clear understanding of the impact of change, project outcomes, and benefits.

Capable interim executives fully understand change management. They understand that an integrated approach, proper stakeholder communication, organizational design, and learning and development are key areas of any transformational change. Such interim executives will question behaviours that are “the norm” to an organization, and challenge old attitudes and entrenched ways of doing things. However, their hunger for improvement needs to be tempered by the ability to motivate people and get them on board toward the pursuit of scalable results.

An Interim Manager wonders how things can be better. They will not be happy with the status quo. They come up with new ideas and experiment to get better results. If this sounds like the interim director you found, you may have found the person who can have the desired impact. 5. Balancing strategic thinking with required speed of delivery

The best interim professionals will always think about business strategy and look holistically at the business to determine the best approach. The key is combining strategic thinking with the required speed of delivery, as they will need to apply critical skills with a sense of urgency.

Successful Interim Managers home in on outcomes that they've committed to achieving to guarantee the success of the assignment. In many turnaround missions there will undoubtedly be a lot of background noise, which can be very distracting. Look for the mindset, “I do not need to attend every meeting…”

Conclusion From a manager’s perspective, interim placements can be lucrative. The job can be thrilling and the learning curve steep, while job satisfaction and rewards are uncertain.

From an HR perspective, when you hire interim managers, it is crucial to determine which job-specific knowledge is required. Take some time to get this right!

We are specialists in recruitment & selection and interim assignment for A-players with a passion for transformation. We connect people with ambition and passion for transformative processes. Professionals, interim managers and directors who can and want to make a difference in the world, for others and for themselves. | +31(0)85 0685586 |

Executive Search | Interim Management | Strategy | M&A | Restructuring


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