Bernice Rook, Director of Recruitment, has a wealth of experience, helping our charity clients to find an interim manager to fill a senior skills gap or manage a moment of change or crisis – but this is not an easy relationship to get right.
Bernice asked some of our top interims for their tips on this most demanding of roles, and also asked for tips on how clients can get the most out of interim assignments.
Charity leaders: how to make the most of an interim appointment
- Make the most of new perspectives. Make use of the interim manager as a critical friend. They bring a fresh pair of eyes in the team and a wealth of experience from interim postings in other organisations. Ask for their insight and knowledge at an early stage while their view is still fresh
- Set clear objectives. Understand the subtleties and differences between an interim and permanent role and be clear what objectives you are trying to achieve with this intervention. Think through, what are the priority deliverables over the next three to six months and ensure you communicate them. Do not rest on your laurels and keep checking in on progress during the assignment
- Aim for good starts and good ends. Prepare in advance of an interim manager starting, for example, set up meetings with key stakeholders early on. At the end of the assignment, give adequate time for a handover and embedding of knowledge before they leave – this is where they can add great value
- Bring other stakeholders on board. It’s important to communicate the role of the interim manager to your team, why you are bringing them in and what the aims of their role are – they will need to assimilate and be listened to if they are to be effective
- Make the effort. Understand your interim manager and their motivations as you would with any new team member. Put effort into the relationship, and you will get more back. It’s a small professional world and your paths may cross again. And don’t assume that they want or can’t get permanent roles – they are a professional and are likely to have chosen a portfolio career.
Interims: tips for making the most of every role
- Look after yourself. As an interim, you are running your own business. It’s important to network, build contacts with good interim providers and expand your knowledge. Having resilience and a positive attitude are key to building your project base and network
- Expect peaks and troughs. Interim contracts are generally very intense, but then interspersed with periods of downtime. Enjoy the time out but save money when you’re working. This means you won’t be compelled to take the first opportunity that comes up next, and instead choose projects that feel more aligned to your skillset and interests
- Managing expectations on both sides is key. People listen hardest in your first and last meetings with them. Work closely with clients to agree clear objectives from the start, establishing clear lines of reporting and accountability. Start simply by asking, how you can help, what issues they are facing, and keep in mind that assignments are often more challenging than initially described or expected. At the end, ask what worked well, what didn’t and what can you do as you leave. This will inform your practice as you move onto the next role
- Go in with the right mindset. Interim work is vastly different from permanent work – you need to be comfortable with lots of hellos and goodbyes and be prepared to not see the end result of initiatives you created. On the other hand, you will also gain from meeting and working with a wide range of people, building your network and gaining new experiences
- Keep the human touch. Be honest without being brutal or hypercritical, and express yourself authentically as a problem-solver. Even if you have been recruited as a constructive disrupter to challenge the status quo in a dysfunctional organisation, you need to be personable, working to gain trust and respect.
Find out more about our specialist Interim Recruitment Services for the non-profit sector.