The 7 habits of highly effective interim managers

Even though BCV & Partners has only been active for three years in the Belgian and international Interim Management landscape, its associates have many years of experience in the field. While not trying to emulate the work of Stephen Covey, they have learned through those experiences that all great interim management assignments and its managers share a few common and recurring habits.

  1. Writing a job description focused on the end result

It is the responsibility of the interim management company to understand the exact needs of the client, and to translate those into a very clear and detailed set of objectives for the interim manager. Because interim managers are often overqualified for the job, due to years of experience, they can achieve those results in a short period of time.

 

  1. Building trust through quick wins

The success of an assignment depends on the speed by which an interim manager can gain the trust of an organisation’s employees. With his expertise in similar situations, it will be fairly easy for an interim manager to “harvest a couple of low hanging fruits” in the early stages of the assignment. This early success will form the foundation on which the rest of the assignment can be build; it will make the interim manager aware of the capabilities of his new team and their willingness to change.

 

  1. Communicating continuously with stakeholders

Keeping an open line of communication with stakeholders throughout the assignment is crucial; and one way of doing that is through a steering committee. Not only is it a way to inform stakeholders of the progress being made, but it also makes it possible to regularly re-examine the objectives and to make adjustments where necessary.

 

  1. Discovering the informal structure of a company

In every organisation one will find people who play no formal role in the decision making process, but who do have the power to influence important decisions. A great interim manager will take time to find those key players and to make them valuable members of the team. It is important to uncover the informal structures within a company and use those to their advantage.

 

  1. Keeping the focus on the objectives

Once an interim manager has won the organisation’s trust, key members will often approach that manager with questions unrelated to the key objectives of the assignment. It then becomes easy to loose sight of the end result as more and more time is spend on taking care of additional issues. A good interim manager will find the right balance between spreading goodwill (by helping out where possible) and staying focused on the true objectives.

 

  1. Ensuring the continuity of changes

Even though a successful interim manager knows that his assignment is only temporary, he must make sure that the changes he initiated continue after he leaves the organisation. It is crucial to involve key players in the organisation as he brings about these changes; selecting a successor who can be trained by the interim manager will ensure everyone will continue on the same path once that manager leaves.

 

  1. Ending the assignment at the right moment

Even though all interim managers know their assignments are only temporary, it is often tempting to try and extend an assignment. An extension is only beneficial if circumstances have changed and additional projects become available. If the sole reason for an extension is the desire of the interim manager to extend his contract, then this can only have a negative impact, not only on the assignment itself, but also on the relationship with the client.

Interim management is not a science; many factors have an impact on bringing a project to fruition. However, years of experience have taught us that these 7 habits will always have an important impact on the success of an interim management assignment.