Switching from corporate to being an independent executive brings up some common scenarios faced by those in transition to interim management
Many executives are not prepared to be independent. They have mostly worked with established or fully supported companies. They have been surrounded by a team, have had a clear focus on the what the company does and the marketplace they are selling, or get to focus on one key area of the business. Now they need to work as a solopreneur. This can be a difficult shift to make, and the transition to interim management is made in a variety of ways. Here are some of the more common scenarios we see when executives are transitioning to this type of work.
Executives making the Swap in interim management
An executive’s decision to no longer work as an employee can often be as seamless as transitioning from a W2 to a 1099 in their current company with a reduced scope of responsibilities while actively seeking similar types of roles to diversify their source of income. Some may not need to look any further than other companies in the industry. In other cases, a private equity firm purchases the company the executive is working with and the position winds down; they may decide to bring the executive in as an interim executive to another portfolio company they have invested in. In most cases, the executive is able to transition the full-time role to a defined scope of activities with companies who are already familiar with the executive’s work.
A Big Change leading to Interim Management
Whether by choice, planned or unexpected, the executive is no longer in a full-time role and, rather than join the job-seeker path, they decide to start working independently. The executive has some or no work currently but is working diligently on building their network and, hopefully, a portfolio of clients in interim management.
What Do I Do Next?
This situation is similar to the prior scenario, but the executive isn’t quite sure what he or she is going to do next. We see this quite a bit with executives who are retiring or selling their companies. Most of their discussions are more focused on whether to fully retire or do some advisory or board work. More and more, we are seeing them connect with other company owners who can use their expertise, allowing them to actively stay involved in companies without owning or being an employee.
Case Study: An Executive making the Transition to interim management with Sizzling Success
Shira Harrington spent much of her career in recruiting. At the heart of the 2007-2010 recession, many recruiting firms, including hers, went out of business. For about a year, she worked with another recruiting firm to start their Washington, DC office and she was working from home. Seeing where the market was going and uncertain about her future, necessity became the mother of invention. In addition to recruiting, she wanted to open her own career coaching practice. She got permission from her employer to do it for that business. By the end of the year, she realized, “Wait a second. I can do this on my own,” and so she did. Shira realized at the time that she had been unknowingly working toward this goal for about a decade.
When Shira was developing her recruiting book of business, she also chose a slightly different path than her coworkers. Rather than being on the phone and making those fifty prospecting calls a day, she spent her time networking. She attended groups as well as starting her own groups. She wanted to get out there and talk and live where her prospects lived. She wanted to understand what keeps the HR community up at night. She started lunch-and-learns, attended Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) events, and started to live and breathe the air that HR professionals were living and breathing. Through it all, she started to realize what was keeping them up at night. Employee engagement was becoming a very hot issue, and increasingly so over the years. She listened to what they were doing well, what their challenges were. Then, when generational work came her way, she got another perspective on why employers often have the challenges that they do with recruiting, retaining, and engaging employees.
For years, Shira had been attending HR seminars and working closely with the community. During that time, she heard a speech on multigenerational workforces. Shira was so enthralled by the topic, she asked the speaker to come and present at other HR programs she was involved in. Five years later, she had attended so many of his sessions that Shira was his first call to cover a presentation when he couldn’t make it. So, Shira’s first presentation on a topic that would end up becoming one of the focal points of her brand was given to a group of general managers for The Ritz-Carlton. She continued to research, improve, and make the presentation her own. Her first big test run turned out to include about eighty colleagues, clients, and business professionals in her network to hear about this “generational thing” that she was doing. Then the phone started to ring, and it didn’t stop ringing.
She started doing presentations for staff and eventually for conferences. She began raising her rates, and over time gained a reputation, first within the association community and then among certain companies, as a generational diversity speaker. That opened up a completely new practice area that augmented the coaching and recruiting she was doing because it was all about workforce engagement. Shira had found her heart’s passion—creating a highly engaged workforce. And so her brand of Purposeful Hire was born.
Shira has worked with thousands of clients, been a keynote speaker at HR conferences, and been interviewed numerous times. She encourages others to tap into their passion for service. Put the money aside. Put the business model aside for just a moment. Who do you want to serve? How do you want to serve them? Why do you want to serve them? We are in a day and age where people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. People want your authentic self, especially if you are a solo practitioner or a business owner. Nobody wants to be sold. People want to be engaged. They want to know that you care about their needs and you have a unique solution to help them solve their urgent problems.
When you can figure out your passions, why you do what you do, and what drives you to be highly engaged, you will then be able to turn that around and say, “Who has the urgent problems that I am in a unique position to help them solve?”