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How can interim managers position themselves for success?

14th May 2014

To increase the chances of being placed in the right assignments and earning more revenue as a result, interim managers should be crystal clear about what they do, what they’re good at and communicate that concisely to the right interim management providers (IMP’s). It’s about giving them absolute confidence that you are the best interim manager available for the assignment.

Recently I was asked to speak at The Executive Network in London on the subject of how interim managers can increase their revenues when working via IMP’s.

Most interim managers at some point use an IMP to make appropriate introductions to prospective clients on their behalf. However, unless interim managers are discerning about who represents them the relationship will not lead to any more work, or increased revenue for the interim manager.

By asking a few key questions of each IMP, an interim manager can significantly increase the probability of being placed successfully into the right assignment and earn more revenue as a result.

So, what questions should interim managers ask?

Are they a specialist interim management provider?

Is this what they do? Do they know your market well enough to be able to compare interims at your level and within your area of expertise? Does the IMP have the ability to shortlist the right interims for each assignment?

Do they meet the client each time there is a brief to discuss?

Does the IMP meet the client to challenge assumptions, understand the culture and people involved, advising the client and agreeing on an assignment brief that works? Working with providers who operate like this will increase probability of assignments which actually happen, and successfully! Make sure you get a proper briefing, otherwise there’s a good chance it’s not a proper brief!

Are they operating in your market?

Interim management providers are a diverse and fragmented bunch. Some are generalist, some specialise, but they all operate at different management levels.  So it’s no use being represented by a provider who can’t facilitate the right introductions at the right level for you.

Do they identify one or two hand-picked candidates or present a number of CV’s for each assignment?

The more disciplined a provider is when shortlisting, the more chance there is for an interim manager to win the assignment. Shorter shortlists are best. It really shows that an IMP has understood the brief, and the candidate, if they can advise the client which interim manager is best.

What processes of selection do they use – a hand-picked register of known and benchmarked interims or a database of 1000’s of unknowns?

One often reads about IMP’s with databases of 1000’s as being a virtue. Seriously? Are you one of a few hundred ‘known’ interims in your area of expertise on their register or one of a few thousand ‘unknowns’?

Do they ‘tune in’ with their interims regularly?

Just how well do they know you and you know them? A successful provider/interim relationship is about trust and knowledge. Only if they know you can a provider successfully introduce you to their clients.

What kind of clients do they work with and do they have ‘preferential supplier status’ with clients?

The more bilateral a provider/client relationship is the more chance an IMP will have in securing a successful introduction for you. If the provider is one of many, you will also just be one of many.

Is there any conflict of interest?

Is the provider also a permanent recruitment firm trying to fill the same role permanently?  Whilst there is a trend for immediately available candidates and some interims to go ‘temp to perm’, any specialist IMP should know that the candidate who can take on a role immediately and at speed is rather different to the candidate expecting a ‘honeymoon period’ of settling into a permanent role. The former profile is heavier than the latter and will logically become bored with the permanent version of the role, if that exists, before too long! Interim management and search firm databases don’t mix.

Above all, interim managers should be purposeful and know exactly ‘what’s on the tin’.

Interim management providers, and prospective clients, will always show more interest in those interim managers who are purposeful about who they are and what they do. Interim managers should be able to answer in an instant my favourite question “what’s on the tin?”

Knowing what you do and communicating that clearly and purposefully to the right interim management provider will significantly increase the probability of being placed and of earning more revenue as a result. Giving immediate comfort that you are the best interim manager available for the assignment will be money in the bank!


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