When to Hire an Interim Executive
An interim executive can lead your company in the most challenging situations. But when should you hire one?
An interim executive is a life saver for companies in trouble. They are available to step in on short notice to fill a sudden gap in leadership, and to run a key initiative which provides specialized skills and knowledge for a temporary period of time. Their vast experience and knowledge proves invaluable at moments of crisis for business owners and CEO’s, but not many know when the right time to bring in an interim executive is.
In Cerius Business Today podcast, we discussed the finer points of an interim executive’s work with Interim Executive Scott Coolidge.
Circumstances that call for an interim executive
Coolidge’s background with Fortune 500 companies has given him real insight on what kinds of situations call for an interim executive. He says, “They might have some dramatic issues around leadership development or performance management or change management. And so they’re looking for somebody who’s been there, done that and can give them some advice around what to do, when to do it, where to invest their time, and what the implications are of doing that to their business operations, and frankly to their bottom line.”
According to Coolidge, companies usually have a human resources person who tends to be more administrative than executional with respect to the programs that they already have in place. That creates constraints for a company that is trying to grow or has grown, giving rise to the number and complexity of human resource issues.
Other companies might be looking for somebody who’s been there and done that before. Specifically executives exposed to situations that their current staff simply hasn’t been associated with before. “They’re looking for an advisor to help them think about the situations they find themselves in: retention and engagement of staff,” says Coolidge.
Signs you need help from an interim executive
Sometimes it’s not so apparent you need help until it’s too late, especially when you’re stuck in the daily rut of the office. According to Coolidge, “Hindsight being 20/20, I think a number of CEO’s that I’ve worked with or leadership team members wished they would have done it a bit earlier.” It’s a common regret among business leaders that they didn’t ask for help before the damage was done.
A symptom of trouble is typically a spike in turnover. It’s one element Coolidge describes. The other is that “they’re just not getting the performance that they’re looking for. They’re not growing as fast, they recognize that part of the problem is leadership issues and they know that they need to upgrade their talent but they’re just not quite sure how to go about it and what to do in that regard.”
Trouble recruiting and retaining the talent that they need in order to get to the next level is a symptom for companies. The costs of hiring, training and losing new employees is quite high, both in money and time.
Bringing in an interim executive who not only has the recipe book but can also executive it quickly can save a company costly lessons learned.