Six Ways to Leverage an Interim Executive After a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic may be subsiding, but the lessons it leaves behind may last forever. For example, the global crisis taught organizations a lot about scenario planning, risk management, adapting to new ways of working and devising new ways to serve customers. Many smart organizations also learned the value of using an interim executive to address immediate leadership needs without a long-term commitment.
Curious about how an interim executive could work for you? Here are six ways you can leverage interim leadership:
1. Get an outside viewpoint.
If you and your team have been doing the same work the same way for any length of time, it’s often hard to see challenges that are right in front of you. Or if you do see them, it’s hard to bring on new ideas to solve them. An interim executive can bring in a fresh approach, creative plans, and different experiences—often triggering breakthrough results (not to mention renewed creativity and vitality).
2. Capitalize on deep industry experience that’s often difficult to find.
By working with an interim executive, you gain access to a leader you may not have known about—or been able to work with otherwise. This leader brings a career full of experiences, interactions, and ideas—and can put them to work for you.
“We had a client who had been in the same industry for thirty years. The problem is he’d also owned the same company for thirty years,” said Kristen McAlister, President, Cerius Executives. “He’d had advisors and board members, but none had been entrenched in the industry, grown a business, and exited. Within our network, we had an executive with all three skillset in his background. We place this executive and within a few weeks, he did a full assessment and provided the business owner with insights no one else could give him.”
3. “Rent” expertise at a fraction of the cost.
Certain talented executives would be too expensive to “buy” (by hiring them in a full-time role with benefits), but you can “rent” their proven skills on a fractional or part-time basis. It’s a wonderful way to get executive talent that’s rich in knowledge and experience, at a lower overall cost to the organization. The leaders’ deep experience often means they can be more focused, which means they can get things done faster, too.
4. Enjoy more flexibility.
You can bring in an interim executive on-demand, as needed. Whether your business is a seasonal one, where you need more support during certain times of the year, or you’re ramping up new campaigns and product rollouts, you can bolster your team with executive leadership talent for a period of time—just long enough to get you over the hurdle and get things done.
5. Get a big impact with low risk.
It’s riskier than ever to hire an executive. The fast pace of business simply doesn’t allow for wrong decisions, which waste considerable time and money. To help lower that risk it’s always smart to ensure any leader is a good fit for your company and culture. With an interim executive, you can “try before you buy” – enabling you to work with the leader for several months to see if they align well with your team and culture. Meanwhile, they can still make a big impact on your business in a short period of time, whether they’re ultimately the right fit or not. While not every interim executive is looking for a full-time role, some may be interested in accepting a permanent position if the fit is right.
6. Take the pressure off your recruiting team.
If you’re looking for just the right full-time executive hire, the process can often take many months. Meanwhile, your company is missing out on the important strategic leadership or turnaround work it needs. The more time that goes by with a leadership position unfilled, the more the gap widens between where initiatives are and where they need to be. An interim executive gets a talented leader in place immediately, while your recruiting team does the important work to locate the right permanent hire without making a hasty decision under time pressure. Moreover, once a full-time hire does come on board, the interim can help get them up to speed faster so they are set up with a runway for success.