The role of the Interim in driving rapid business change

The role of the Interim in driving rapid business change

Since the early 70s, Interim Management has been an essential component of the British economy. Interim Managers are much sought after to lead change, manage projects and fix situations in a short timeframe – helping many businesses to overcome hard times.

There are recurring scenarios: technological disruption, resignation of a key employee, problems or opportunities with overseas operations, radical and rapid political change, etc  … but what is it about an Interim than so often provides the answer?

An Interim Manager (increasingly referred to as an Interim Executive to defend their experience and seniority) can rapidly alter a company’s fortunes thanks to their unique characteristics:

  • Independence. Given their limited stay at a company, Interims are unlikely to be influenced by office politics and are not seeking to move up in the hierarchy. As a result they provide an unbiased perspective and make focused decisions.
  • Speed of engagement. They are faster to find and appoint than permanent employees, which can make a big difference in driving fast strategic reorientation. Typically the Interim is on site and adding value within a week.
  • Motivation for success. Interims live on their credibility and references for future employment, guaranteeing their full commitment to success.
  • Vast experience. Interims are often over-qualified for their positions and have substantial experience in their domain. Their unrivalled insights and expertise will facilitate fast and efficient business change and turnaround.
  • Flexibility and cost. A company might be reticent to hire a permanent employee into a specific position, yet an Interim can be brought in for as long or short a period as is needed. Interims are a cost effective solution and a variable cost and not a fixed overhead.
  • Relocation. Interims regularly relocate for a position and are used to doing so.

So, in summary Interims are experienced executives with specialist skills and a track record of achievement behind them.

Recent years have seen a significant global increase in the use of Interims. Research from Deloitte showed that 50 per cent of 11,000 companies worldwide have increasingly used contractors (with Interim Management a key sub-sector worth up to £1.5bn per annum to the UK economy according to the Interim Management Association (IMA). Some even go as far as to call “permanent” and “stable” employment a thing of the past.

Russam GMS has approximately 26,000 Interims within the core talent pool and this probably represents the best part of the UK market. We have been building the Interim pool since 1981 when we started life as the UK’s 1st Interim Management provider firm; and we are receiving nearly 300 registrations per month on average.

In the UK alone interim management has grown by 8% in the last year, according to the third annual survey from WIL (Worldwide Interim Leadership) Group – the global interim group of which Russam GMS is co-founding member. Yet in France and Germany, growth is rocketing for Interim Management– expanding by 33 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.

One explanation for this is simply lifestyle factors. Professionals want more ownership and self-direction of their careers versus the corporate approach. They want to work in a more flexible way and like the variety of assignments that come along through venturing on an Interim Management path.

Another factor stimulating growth is that day rates have globally been on the rise since 2010, making Interim work more attractive to experienced professionals.[1] Though I will caveat this by saying that Interims are still a very cost-effective solution and one that is strongly ROI driven.

Growth has also been driven by the increasing speed of change to the economy, led by technology development; and regulation and environmental events such as GDPR and Brexit. With this in mind, it’s fair to say this trend is likely to continue.

In Britain particularly, there are multiple challenges in the short-term that are set to cause radical disruption to businesses and their performance.

Managing Brexit

The most pressing challenges is, of course, Brexit. With uncertainty around the final Brexit deal now at fever pitch, companies need to prepare for massive change to their supply chains, manufacturing processes, not least through regulatory legislation.

The NHS is anticipating major impact and has voiced the urgent need to prepare for any contingency. This is likely to trigger large demand for Interims.  Yet the recent outcry over the exorbitant salaries received by contractors within the NHS will drive caution. There must be a careful balance between Interims’ day rates and the ‘greater good’ of helping our health service to navigate the complexities of the months ahead.

IT, media, telecoms and business services are also expected to be greatly impacted by Brexit according to a report by KPMG.  With the need to plan for any outcome in such a short timeframe, with Britain set to leave the EU on 28th March 2019, there’s sure to be a surge in demand for Interim support.

The race for digitalisation

Brexit is not the only challenge that lies ahead for the UK economy. According to a survey among 760 UK business leaders, it’s also not the most important!

Indeed, when asked about the priorities for their company over the next 12 months, the most common answer was digital transformation. There is good reason for this: through automation, self-learning and the digitisation of common processes such as manufacturing, digital transformation is set to disrupt and improve many business models.

Yet, as a McKinsey’s report underlines, this doesn’t mean reducing the human component in business, it’s more that employees will have to learn new skills to manage and operate within the new models.

The disruption of digitalisation is likely to be even further reaching than Brexit, and so the need for rapid and efficient transformation will doubtless rely heavily on Interim services.

Trusted by business

At Russam GMS, we have always understood the role of the Interim sector in the economy and how this valuable resource could be used to help clients find the right strategic appointment. The company was founded by Charles Russam in 1981, on discovering that there was formal market offering for senior finance people to go in and sort out problems quickly.

The company founded the concept of senior Interim management, and while we have since grown into other services, we maintain a sharp focus on this ever-growing industry and its role in transforming businesses worldwide.

[1] Insert reports by the IIM between 2010 and 2018

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