When Should You Call an Interim Manager?

It’s not uncommon for businesses to run into problems they don’t have the institutional knowledge to solve. Sometimes this is a natural evolution that leads to a growth of the business and its operational capacity. The rise of the IT department is something that has happened within living memory. It required businesses to take a risk, employing full time staff who were specialists in a new field, and sinking resources into equipment and training. The result of this, however, was increased efficiency; better problem-solving capacity; and now it’s impossible to imagine any business of any size without an IT support team.

Similarly, absorbing new expertise is part of the growth of a business. Start-ups and small businesses often make do without full time HR staff. This works as long as you have a small number of employees and can extend them flexibility in return for commitment to a growing business. Once you start to grow, processing payroll can be too much for an overstretched founder to handle, quite apart from tracking holidays and staff sickness. It makes sense as a business grows to transition into having dedicated HR staff to handle that side of a business for you, and is part of the foundation for future expansion and success.

Sometimes, however, businesses face a problem that doesn’t justify taking on new full-time staff. A project failing or overrunning, or an urgent to break into a new market represents an acute need, rather than a chronic one.

It’s in situations like these, when you need a short term dose of additional knowledge and resources, that Interim Managers are a good idea for your business. Experienced in adapting to business needs quickly, they are a solution that’s available immediately, and provides practical support rather than the recommendations you would receive from a traditional consultant. If you have a failing project you need to turn around, an Interim Manager wouldn’t simply make recommendations about how to bring it under control, they would work closely with you and the project team as a project manager.

As long as you have a quantifiable aim in mind like increasing your revenue by a set amount, or facing a particular crisis, an Interim Manager is a good solution for your business. If you have more diffuse goals like broad improvement or simply ‘growth’ without figures attached to these aspirations it’s unlikely the practical skills of the Interim Manager can help.

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