The Strategic Use of an Interim Executive

The Strategic Use of an Interim Executive

CEOs are charged with developing strategies for meeting business objectives. Competitive and functional strategies – whether looking at growth, stability, or renewal – typically evolve around such things as sales, profits, new and existing customer base, just to name a few. More and more companies are looking to another strategy: using top-tier interim executives. If you have been operating under the premise that an interim executive (IE) is 1) used only for vacancies; 2) brought in when companies are in trouble; or 3) too expensive, then you are being left behind in an increasingly competitive landscape.

We interviewed executives at Cerius who go into the field every day and meet with corporate CEOs to discuss ways companies are using interim executives – and dispel a few myths along the way. Answering the following questions can help you see if you are missing a key strategy for your company, as well as a critical innovation driver.

Do you question whether a manger is getting the most out of his or her department?

It’s not uncommon for a company to outpace the capabilities of a department manager’s abilities to execute the job well. The question is knowing what to do about it. Can he learn, and catch up, or will he be perpetually over-whelmed? Is there a better fit somewhere else in the organization? Should you hire a new executive, and worry about supporting another senior-level position? Is your company losing out on innovation through stagnant departmental leadership? Departmental relationships are also important: It’s not uncommon, according to one of our executives, for some departments, particularly IT, to be unresponsive to business needs. “I had one instance where changing the way a department responded actually drove product development,” he says. “My role evolved from overseer, to product innovation.”

Why it’s important and how an IE can help:

If You invest a great deal in your management team. Don’t terminate until and unless you are certain that you can’t continue to get a return on that investment, whether it’s in the same department, or somewhere else in the company. You need to effectively manage your talent1 . An IE can assess the entire department: people, processes, and relations with other departments. Perhaps your manager needs a mentor, or additional training. This outside view can positively impact your efficiency, revenue, and morale. Throwing out old ideas and changing relationships drives creativity and innovation.

Does your company need re-branding or a new marketing strategy?

If you are considering a re-branding or new marketing initiative and think that it can be done in-house, remember that these initiatives

are major initiatives, even if they are less tangible than an IT or manufacturing system. It takes more than additional bandwidth: It

requires creativity and objective thinking. Your staff may be creative in their current execution, but is it fair to ask them to approach a re-

branding or new marketing effort with the view of an outsider?

Why it’s important and how and IE can help: Your choices for a re-branding or new marketing initiative are to handle it with internal resources; hire an outside vendor; use an interim executive; or use a combination of all those options. An IE can liaise with outside vendors full-time, keeping your internal staff in the loop while allowing them to fulfill existing requirements. An IE also bursts the myopic bubble that may have inadvertently been created internally, eliminating the fear of doing something different. Eliminating or at least discounting fear is a key innovation driver.

Are you losing opportunities by not using an interim executive strategy?

By thinking of interim executives as another strategy to meet your business objectives, you are creating a culture of innovation in your company. A strategic use of interim talent represents thinking that is “outside the box.”

In the next decade,  50 percent of the global workforce will be temporary or interim – primarily by choice – and 80 percent of large corporations will increase their use of flexible staffing. He may not realize it, but each time a CEO brings someone in at a high level, giving them strategic responsibility, he is asking that person to implement change

Why it’s important and how an IE can help:

Implementing an IE strategy allows you to adjust your staffing needs and thus your fixed costs; helps you respond to opportunities with the nimbleness of a small, unburdened company; and most of all, it makes available to you a vast and growing talent pool.

Final Thought:

Is the ROI sufficient to justify a senior-level interim executive?

The answer is almost always yes if the end solution is clear, the engagement is scoped properly and you have the right results-oriented executive in place. So the engagement’s Statement of Work with your company must be clear about what is to be accomplished over what time period. The ROI calculation at that point is straightforward. Below are examples of results that Cerius clients have seen following an interim engagement. If any of these were accomplished at your company, what would the savings or growth be and how much would you be willing to invest in achieving similar results?

  • Increased sales over 50%
  • Reduced IT expenditures by $7M
  • 15% cash flow improvement
  • Increased sales leads by 500%
  • Reduced COGS by 36%
  • Reduced workforce by 10% due to redundancies
  • Reduced insurance costs by $600k
  • Increased revenue by 20%

Why it’s important and how an IE can help:

Interim executives are relatively easy to justify because measurable results can be expected. IEs have the ability to ramp up quickly, put a pragmatic plan into place, and then implement the plan expertly within a short period of time.

Learn how we can help your business grow profitably today.