In 2003-2004 Zelia an insurance company in Belgium was put on sale by the parent company international insurance company called Swiss Life group. As a result of this future sale, new problems arose. The number one problem was uncertainty. 127 employees were worried about this uncertainty. Swiss Life Group had to act quickly to adapt. In order to make employees adapt to the new situation board of directors needed to eliminate the mixed smell of uncertainty, worry, and lack of motivation. They had to spray the new fragrance to change the air. However, they had very little time to search for the best match CEO for Zelia with the right qualifications. What would you do as a decision-maker in this situation?
They hired an interim CEO.
What is interim management; who are interim managers and what do they do?
According to the Interim Management Association, “Interim Management is the rapid provision of senior executives to manage change or transition”. When Zelia was in such a crisis they did not ignore the crisis neither they tried to solve the problem themselves because that uncertainty appeared under their supervision. Have you ever been in a situation where you describe, define, and observe the problem you are in and realize that it is that new problem you have no experience or knowledge to solve it? The natural human reaction to such problems is that we expect someone to appear out of nowhere to solve that crisis and go. The most important part here is we do not expect them to stay. We just want the crisis to be gone. That is interim management. To sum up, interim managers are highly experienced executives who specialized in different crisis whom you can hire for a short period of time to come up with solutions for your specific business problem and implement them.
In order to solve a crisis, you face, quickly you have two options: hiring a consulting agency or hiring an interim manager.
How do an interim manager and management consultant differ?
Let’s compare them in terms of the advantages and disadvantages that they will provide for your company.
1. Consulting agencies recommend a solution but do not implement it, however, an interim manager with his/her expertise come up with the right solution to your business problem and implement it himself/herself.
2. Finding the right agency in accordance with the features of your business problem would be hard and time-consuming. Hiring the right interim manager will make you handle the crisis quickly.
3. The motivation of an interim manager and an employee of a consulting agency differ. An interim manager acts in accordance with his/her future career goals and reputation however an employee of a consulting agency tries to sell their services.
4. An interim manager directly informs you and is accountable to you, but a management consultant reports to his/her agency and is not accountable to you.
5. An interim manager works under your control and in close relation with your team, however, a management consultant will not be present in your company nor he/she will be in communication with your team.
6. You can hire a specific interim manager who will be fit for your special crisis in terms of his/her expertise. A management consultant will not suit your problem but will have an understanding in a general sense.
How did interim managers emerge in the market?
In the period of 1970-80 years, the oil crisis hit the European market. This was an international crisis that required companies to react quickly to adapt. That was when interim managers with required sets of skills emerged in Europe. They come with brand new solutions which were the best options for the companies affected by the oil crisis.
Mostly in which departments are interim managers in demand?
The highest demand which is 20% of overall belongs to Human Resources, Finance & Operations departments. Purchasing, Supply Chain, and IT, with IT and Managing Director/CEO roles, demand less compared to former departmental roles.
Although public sectors hire 20 % more than the private-sector recently there have been sharp increases in the employment of interim managers in private sectors. The reason for this new interest in the private sector is that interim managers have the reputation of being quick in response to crisis and solving them in an ideal way.
Are you facing a sudden crisis in your company, meet your interim manager!
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