Leveraging an Interim Executive to Maximize Your Internal Resources
Most companies consider an interim executive to simply be an executive who fills a full-time role while the company is replacing the position on a longer term basis. This can be the case but it is one of many ways an interim executive can step in and impact a company.
An interim executive can fill in, supplement and even compliment an existing team at all levels of a company. One of the biggest impacts an interim executive can have that is probably the least used is to compliment the internal team. It is rare that an organization has 100% of the talent and resources it needs. There is either something missing or the existing resources aren’t being used at full capacity. This is most often true with employees.
Some common situations we have run into:
– Employee has been with the company since its early stages and has been promoted accordingly. At this point, the employee has an incredible amount of industry and company knowledge but lacks the skills needed at the current leadership level.
– Company has a great internal team with lots of knowledge and heart. They will follow the owner of the company anywhere but lack the knowledge and/or understanding of where the owner is headed with the company and how they can help to get it there.
Leveraging and Interim Executive Case In Point
We worked with a company that had been in business for over ten years and fit much of what is described above. Though the CEO was a great leader, he didn’t have the bandwidth nor the expertise to leverage his team to the next level. Sales were starting to lag and operational issues were becoming a common occurrence. He was faced with a few decisions including whether his Director of Operations who had been with him for much of the company’s history was the best fit for the position.
The CEO was introduced to Cerius and decided to bring in an interim executive who has worked with his type of company in similar situations before. The interim executive did not take on a formal or official role or title in the company. Instead, he spent some time understanding the company, getting to know all of the employees and working side-by-side with them. Based on his experiences and outside perspective he was able to spend the time and provide some valuable resources the company was able to quickly leverage.
The team went through its first strategic planning meeting in years. Like most companies they either did not see a need for it or had prior ones had dismal impact. All levels of the organization were involved, not just the top leadership. It was incredible to see the organization transform. When you walked into the building, their strategic initiatives were all over the wall in the form of symbols and pictures. Anyone you asked in the organization could not only tell you what the goals of the company were but also how their job contributed to it. It was meaningful and memorable.
The interim executive also spent some time working side-by-side with the Director of Operations. The executive found that the individual was capable and his expertise could be leveraged well beyond his current responsibilities. He was just missing some of the tools and basic knowledge that is not easily learned when you have only worked for one or two small organizations in your career. They worked together to set up some key processes resulting in significant reductions of 36% of COGs, eliminated 100 non-producing SKUS, increased fill rates by 20% and reduced scrap by 4%. The employee started to thrive given his new skill sets and was able to then influence the growth of others in the organization.
Since then, the interim executive comes back in every year to assist with the company’s strategic planning and progress. Think of it like an annual check-up.
It is often challenging for a leader to figure out what direction to go, how to get there and who on your team can help. Never discount the abilities of those on your team both known, unknown and untapped. Consider bringing in an interim executive with the right expertise to not only act as a sounding board for you but can also be a catalyst for your team. An outside perspective, an extensive background working in these situations and an extra set of hands can make the difference between a functioning team and a high performing team.