Can an interim manager help me to grow my business?

 photojo SM 0012

Dirk Beelen

Can an interim manager help me grow my business?

Interim Management is a relatively young business phenomenon. It was introduced in the 1980’s in the Netherlands, and has since moved to the other European countries, to the USA and to some Asian countries. It is estimated that today it is worldwide a $10 billion business. It is still relatively unknown in Australia, but things are about to change, especially with the mining boom being over and the economic climate slowing down.

What is Interim Management?

An Australian customer once told me when I explained what interim management was, that it felt like “executive temping”, and I must say, in the absence of any better word/description, this for sure is a good and quick description. An interim manager is basically a senior manager with lots of experience in various industries and roles, that will:

  • Help out when the managing director is time poor
  • Provide lasting skills and continuity while a more permanent solution is determined and implemented
  • Help start-up companies to execute their growth strategy and grow the intrinsic management skills
  • Assure continuity when there is a sudden departure and this until a permanent solution is found
  • Build/manage/coach the sales team during sudden expansion or divestment
  • Help/manage the company during succession planning issues

As mentioned before, interim managers are people with a lot of hands-on experience and often in different industries and different countries. As such, they bring a wealth of know-how from the very first moment they enter your office or manufacturing site.  There is no “grace period” as you have with a new employee, the interim manager is not interested in promotion or will not participate in internal turf wars. He/she is there with a specific objective, and that is what he/she will do. The interim manager’s remuneration is often linked to achieving the preset goals.

What are some typical projects that an interim manager can work on?

  • Market assessment prior to expansion: when you plan to invest in expansion, you want to make sure that the target market is there and that the pricing of your product will be in line with the customer expectations. An interim manager will work in your business to understand the in and outs, he/she will write a business plan for the expansion, he/she will go into the market and speak to potential customers, check out competitive offerings, and will adjust the business plan if needed. He/she will then write a final business plan, prepare the financial review including ROI and cash flow projections, and it will be handed over to the managing director who can either use it as a road book or as a reference document. The managing director would never have had the time to prepare such a document as it probably takes two months to compile. Paying an interim manager two months is well worth the investment.
  • Succession planning: The managing director of a family owned business, Bob, has decided to retire and his two sons are working in the company. For whatever the reason, Bob doesn’t want to decide who will become his successor, and both sons expect to become the next managing director. Putting an interim manager as the new managing director has lots of benefits:
    • The two sons know that there is doubt about who is going to get the role, if anyone
    • The interim manager is not emotionally involved in the succession, and will look at facts rather the profiling efforts from the individuals.
    • The interim manager can provide the two sons with targeted yet challenging objectives, meant to grow the business, but also allowing the sons to put their own creativity into it. It will allow the sons to show what they can bring in such a role, and it is a soft way to let the owner know that his sons will do things differently, once they are in charge.
    • It will allow the interim manager to give a good guidance on how to move forward and who to appoint in what role. He can also inform the shareholders in an un-biased non-emotional way why one was preferred above the other, to take over the MD role.
    • If needed, the interim manager is still available at a later stage to help the newly appointed MD and this in line with the expectations of the owners and/or shareholders, as the interim manager has advised them upfront what a good course of action would be.

                        More examples will be highlighted in future blogs

What not to do when considering an Interim Manager:

Often business owners see that an interim manager would really bring added value in a specific situation. They consider hiring one, but then realize that they can do this themselves. What is often the outcome:

  • the owner still has his/her other responsibilities, and that was already a full time job, so either his/her day to day job gets less attention or his/her work life balance gets worse.
  • the owner will look at the challenge with the same eyes as before. This might result in missing some obvious benefits that a set of fresh eyes would have seen
  • the new job doesn’t get the attention it deserves because of the day to day job challenges, resulting in potential poor decision making on the new challenge. As a consequence, the results are sub optimal, leaving the business owner disappointed, and maybe even employees demotivated.
  • the credibility of the owner in the eyes of employees, shareholders, stakeholders might have got a hit

DO WHAT YOU DO BEST AND OUTSOURCE THE REST

The Black Tree Interim Management

Dirk Beelen 0419 528 961

dirkbeelen@theblacktree.com.au

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