Interim management: challenges and management

Over the past few years, interim management has been on a roll. Indeed, the status of this profession is currently like that of the business world: in a state of flux! The profession is becoming more professional and its use clearer. The main objective for the interim manager is to be able to carry out his or her assignments with maximum flexibility, without legal constraints, to steer his or her career and professional and personal ambitions at his or her own pace, and interim management as we know it today reaps the rewards of thorough, serious and methodical work. Today, no one doubts the essential role of the interim manager.

Interim management: principles and foundations

Defining interim management

Interim management consists of temporarily assigning management functions to an external operational manager in order to manage change. This person has the particularity of being immediately operational, so he or she can devote himself or herself fully to his or her mission as interim manager and to improving the company’s performance. This is a viable one-off solution. Today, the interim manager no longer intervenes solely for crisis management, his field of action now covers a variety of areas.

In the 1970s, interim management came into being under the name of "Interim Management", and was initially developed to manage crisis situations. A slow but fruitful breakthrough, with the French interim management market estimated at 440 million euros in 2019.

The benefits of interim management

Using interim management allows you to benefit from the fresh, objective view of an independent executive, providing concrete solutions to achieve your objectives. The whole intervention is geared towards success. It’s a practical solution for responding quickly to an emergency situation. It’s simpler to set up than a fixed-term contract, and more specialized than using a temporary executive. What’s more, it offers a guarantee of success, true objectivity and controlled costs. Ultimately, he or she helps the company resolve a situation or carry out a major project, before handing over the reins at the end of the assignment.

The interim manager: a real profession

Interim management is linked to the duration of the assignment and requires a certain degree of mobility. You can’t improvise yourself as an interim manager, because some assignments are delicate and need to be taken into account. It’s a profession in its own right, made by choice, a desire to get away from routine and a willingness to challenge oneself with each new assignment. Not everyone is cut out for this mission, as it requires specific skills and a certain lifestyle.

It can also be a solution to the covid-19 crisis, as new practices have emerged or developed that require fundamental changes.

Interim management: a strategic solution?

Who are interim managers?

Interim managers are neither magicians nor superheroes. These are experienced men and women who have chosen to put their skills and experience at the service of organizations in need. It’s a question of knowing how to go beyond the “traditional” function to position oneself as a gas pedal capable of moving the lines while passing on one’s knowledge and knowing how to leave when the mission is over. This is why gaining acceptance from all employees is one of the biggest challenges facing interim managers.

The interim manager's missions

A mission is divided into 3 phases:

  • Diagnostics to analyze and optimize existing systems;
  • The implementation of solutions, to be defined and deployed according to the results of the diagnosis;
  • Transferring skills to ensure the continuity of a company department

Interim managers have a wide range of missions and skills. The vast majority of interim management assignments concern functions that are often represented on executive committees: general management, human resources, finance or manufacturing. It can also intervene to cover positive situations such as the development of a new activity, the management of a strategic project or the optimization of performance.

An interim manager's assignment, which can last from 4 to 18 months, lasts an average of 7 months.

The skills needed by an interim manager

In addition to the usual qualities of a manager, the company is looking for special profiles, with an emphasis on business experience. Profiles need to be large-scale, experienced and capable of leading teams in the realization of the customer’s vision. Active listening and the ability to bounce back are the main qualities sought. He must also be a leader and demonstrate :

  • Intuition
  • Communication
  • Empathy

Profiles meeting these conditions are rare. On average, 5% of CVs received are eligible for interim management. He or she must also have a pronounced sense of operationality, a taste for challenge and a certain need to pass on information. It’s essential that he’s had managerial experience to be able to manage a team that he hasn’t recruited himself, and which he takes over at short notice. He can also be an expert on a specific mission.

Good to know: knowledge of the sector is often required by the company, but a fresh perspective can give you the perspective you need to get things moving.

The cost of an interim manager

The cost of the interim manager’s intervention is relatively high, but lower than that of a one-off consultant. It is advisable to set its duration in advance in order to control the cost. Hiring an interim manager can save time and increase productivity in situations that can be tricky for a company.

The average daily bill is 1,048 euros (source INIMA). Overall, prices range from 600 to 1,600 euros in average daily rates.

How an interim management assignment works

Recruitment in Human Resources

Identifying the issues

It’s vital to identify the issues at stake by asking the company about its objectives and the actions it has already taken in the past. This stage determines everything that follows. The overall quality of the mission depends on its quality. The next step is to formalize the problem and the context. This is the basis for the manager selection phase.

Selecting the right person

The client’s culture and the context in which he or she is working can lead to different profiles, as the interim manager must be able to quickly understand his or her future client’s skills needs at any given moment, and transform them into an objective to be achieved. Choosing the “right” manager is also a matter of feeling.

Setting up the management of the transition mission

One of the tools used to ensure that the mission runs smoothly is the steering committee. It ensures that objectives are met, supports the manager and anticipates conflicts. It’s also an effective line of communication between manager, customer and company, necessary to guarantee the success of the mission.

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Marie-Laure CAIAZZO, Recruitment Manager, Boost’RH Groupe

“According to our expert, in 2021, interim management was an ideal and trendy solution, particularly for managing a transformation project. Essentially, this allows us to meet a very specific need. In all cases, the interim manager is chosen for his or her expertise and speed in meeting the company’s needs at any given moment. Ms. CAIAZZO has rarely seen any disadvantages in this type of position. She also notes that interim managers are increasingly called upon, particularly in the industrial sector, when a company is experiencing difficulties.

She also points out that since the recent pandemic, more and more interim managers are going freelance. There are many advantages: dynamism, new challenges, new missions and new colleagues. According to our expert, this really is the solution to choose.

To sum up

En 3 Questions

  • What are the advantages of interim management?

    Interim management enables you to rapidly obtain an additional, experienced and temporary human resource to support you on an important issue that is immediately operational. It provides a fresh look at the company’s organization. Another advantage is the financial aspect, as the cost of this operation is totally under control.

  • What skills does an interim manager need?

    There are a number of avenues to explore, such as empowering teams, improving the working environment, and implementing actions in line with employee expectations. The aim is to improve their well-being at work, establish a positive working atmosphere, reduce absenteeism and build employee loyalty.

  • How does an interim management assignment work?

    First of all, we need to understand the company’s challenges and objectives to ensure that interim management is the best solution. The next step is to validate the interim manager. The third step is to work with the company to set the stakes and start the mission. Then it’s time to measure the progress of the mission, and finally to conclude the assignment and ensure the handover.