Interim Executives: Myths, Misconceptions, and Realities – Part 4

full-time employees

Interim executives are often seen as paratroopers: an elite group of executives who parachute into companies (often under fire) and act as the heroes who help save the company.

Interim executives are also often the bridge during transitions. They step into a company (truth be told, most of the time without a parachute) during times of trouble, high growth, innovation, or instability.

In reality, interim executives come in all shapes and sizes and are deployed for a variety of reasons:

  • To fill a gap position until you have hired a permanent executive
  • To develop new strategies for growth
  • To mitigate risks, such as during mergers and acquisitions
  • To carry out organizational change
  • To manage complex projects
  • To run a subsidiary in a new state or country

Here are more of the most common myths and misconceptions we hear about interim executives. 

“I Need to Hire Full-Time Employees. I Have to Be Able to Control what They Do.” 

Outsourcing does not translate to “out of sight, out of mind.” 

Instead of focusing on managing interim talent by each task on a daily or weekly basis, you gain the freedom to focus on the results you want them to produce in the end

Interim executives are self-driven. Manage them by results, not by task. If they’re not providing the results the job requires, or the business environment has changed the requirements, interim talent provides the ultimate flexibility to quickly and easily adjust the expertise to changing conditions on the ground.

With an interim, you can stop worrying about whether or not the executive came in precisely at 8:00 a.m. and left at 5:00 p.m. or took a lunch break that was longer than an hour. 

Focus on the outcomes. 

When you bring in interim executive talent with the right expertise, traditional onboarding is not necessary. There is no need to walk them through orientation, sign them off on company policies and procedures, and get them up to speed on the corporate handbook. More time can be invested in exploring problems and solutions and accomplishing results. 

Spreading out goals and tasks to different people outside your organization also makes everything less stressful for employees inside your company. So many employees fail or burn out over the long haul because they’re juggling fifty different things at once, most of which are not their core competencies. Engaging outside specialized executive talent allows your employees to focus on what they’re good at. You’ll have happier full-time employees who get to focus on what they do best. When companies and employees are working within their core competencies, the daily stress and frustrations will decrease dramatically. 

Over time, interim executives can help reduce and control operating costs, improve company focus, allow access to world-class capabilities, increase internal employee performance, and often help improve communications.  

“Interim executives can help reduce and control operating costs, improve company focus, allow access to world-class capabilities.”

“An Interim Will Be Too Disruptive for My Team. Our Employees Won’t Like It.” 

In our experience, the team often welcomes any extra hands on deck. But it goes beyond that. A great deal of how your team reacts relies on your messaging. Convey the reason the interim executive is coming in (to offer expertise, training, systemization, or expertise on a mission-critical project or initiative) and the team will be overwhelmed with gratitude for the level of leadership, direction, and focus the executive is bringing to the organization, even on a project or temporary basis.

Every executive works on some type of strategic initiative or improvement, especially if the predecessor did not leave on good terms, the role has been vacant for a while, or it is a newly created position. In fact, if you are having a difficult time thinking of a short-term trial project for an executive you are looking to hire, you may want to rethink hiring an executive-level individual just to have that person “watch the shop” or maintain the status quo. 

At the end of the day, hiring/engaging (whether full-time or interim) is always about results. Whether on a full-time or interim basis, the expectation should be about what an executive will accomplish. The difference is that when someone is more focused and operating on a limited-time basis, coupled with the necessary expertise, results often can be achieved much more quickly. 

In Summary: Superhero Needed, Short-Term Only 

Talent today is fluid as business has become unpredictable. The business cycle is decreasing, and planning is condensed. The independent workforce, particularly at the executive level, can provide the same flexibility and scalability in North America as it has for decades in Europe to help keep up with market changes and close the talent shortage gap so many industries are facing.

The work that needs to be done in organizations is changing from what needs to get done to how it is done, where it is done, and who is needed to do it.

With the transition of work moving away from a list of tasks to projects or end work products, the executive talent model is transitioning as well. Businesses are struggling to attract the right talent when they need it at all levels of the organization. 

A blended, total talent management model is emerging to accommodate the growing needs of businesses to align it with how available talent wants to do the work. 

Rather than carrying a large overhead at the leadership level, businesses are building their executive teams in a more agile, palatable, phased model, blending the C-suite with full-time and temporary talent. We will provide a number of examples in the chapters to come.

“…businesses are building their executive teams  in a more agile, palatable, phased model, blending  the C-suite with  full-time and temporary talent.” 

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