In Western Europe, the idea of the temporary provision of experienced management resources and skills on a short-term basis to manage a period of transition, crisis or change within an organization has existed for many decades. In India, in recent times X-PM is finding that the use of interim resources is increasing as companies understand the value in terms of cost control as well as the advantages in terms of experience not readily available in-house. We are witnessing an increasingly unpredictable business environment, with ever increasing demands for companies to act swiftly and effectively. We are also seeing that with an aging population, increasingly, people want to continue to use their skills and experience after retiring formally from corporate life. The combination of these circumstances also mean that the use of interims is becoming more common. This article from HBR is a comprehensive study of the rise of this phenomenon.

To help companies decide whether to explore the idea further, the X-PM India partners recently answered some frequently asked questions about interim management.

What is an interim manager or interim executive?

An interim manager or interim executive (hereafter known as interim) is a leader hired from outside an organisation via a company like X-PM (x-pm.in). Interims are often domain experts who can implement all manner of projects, manage crises or lead change. They are assigned to lead a specific project, process, change or other transformation in a company. They are responsible for implementing specific objectives within a fixed timeframe but also leadership to appropriate internal teams. When the objectives are met, they leave.

In what situations should I hire an interim?

Interims are often used where internal managerial or leadership bandwidth is constrained or inexperienced, especially for urgent and strategic projects initiated by Boards. They can be useful in a variety of situations, here are some examples: - Immediate replacement of a senior executive within the company - Resignation of a senior managerial position - Change and restructure in the organisation of the company - Market entry and management - Driving Sustainability Mandate of the Board - Shutting down unprofitable factories or companies - Specific IT or Finance related projects like Digital Transformation, Financial restructuring - Post-Merger Integration - PE/VC funded start-ups wanting to scale up

Does interim mean temporary?

While the tenure of an interim is temporary, they are change agents and produce high quality results in a short period of time given their strong pedigree in leadership roles spanning over decades.

What is the difference between interim and acting roles?

The difference between an acting role and an interim role is that acting implies a caretaker position to manage the status quo, while interim, although also a transitional role will have a specific, often transformational set of objectives.

What is the difference between an interim and a consultant?

In general, consultants can be seen as experts in a particular field who are able to research and analyse data, diagnose issues, and provide strategic advice & recommendations. Interim leaders often have multi-functional experience but may also be domain experts who are available to step in at short notice and actually create as well as implement solutions for business problems and challenging environments.

How do interims make companies more agile?

An interim manager is a quick win for a company. Generally, within a matter of days or weeks an individual with management expertise and significant experience in driving change can be hired for a fixed term. They can steer organisations through a period of change or transformation, provide stability and support following the departure of a senior leader, or offer qualified expertise for a project that a business may not have internally. X-PM has a pool of over 50,000 global interims to find the right fit in the right geography.

How can interims be trusted to maintain corporate secrets?

Building trust is an important part of the role of X-PM. We build trust with potential clients as well as interims, it’s a significant part of the relationships we build. Background checks are conducted and usually the interims are people with high integrity as CXOs in their erstwhile executive roles. They are fully conscious of their responsibility regarding confidentiality and furthermore, are always required to sign NDAs.

How does one announce an interim within the organisation?

Generally interim managers are hired at board level, with a clear understanding of what the goal is of the assignment. Typically, they are overqualified for the position they enter, allowing them to slip into the position seamlessly. They should be introduced by the leadership team as active, hands-on members of the management team from day one.

If you are interested in becoming an interim, these frequently asked questions may be helpful:

How does one become an interim?

Interim managers are seasoned senior-level professionals with proven track records as goal-oriented achievers. They have handled complex business situations that require rapid transformation. They are clear-sighted pragmatists who exercise sound judgment to get the job done. They are trusted professionals with sound business knowledge, broad industry experience and commercially astute. If this sounds familiar get in touch with X-PM.

How much do interims get paid?

The scale varies depending on the individual assignment. There is usually a fixed fee for the assignment agreed with the client. This is usually billed monthly by X-PM who are then responsible for paying the interim after deducting X-PM’s fees. There are no HR benefits involved such as pension or health insurance etc. Sometimes, there may be a bonus attached to acknowledge the targets set or extra work involved.

What qualities are critical for the success of an Interim manager?

To succeed as an interim and create a legacy in the organisation after exit requires the following key characteristics: - the foresight and the ability to plan change in the best interests of the organisation - excellent communication skills to simplify complex ideas - the drive and energy to making their visions work - the charisma and credentials to build effective teams

Do interim managers work full time or part time?

This varies from case to case. An interim manager can be recruited to work part-time or on a project basis, for a fixed duration or full time usually for three, six or nine or more months. This allows the company excellent cost control as well as flexibility.

Can an interim serve as a key management personnel (KMP)?

Yes. According to Section 2(51) of the Companies Act 2013, Key Managerial Personnel in a Company are: Chief executive Officer (CEO) OR the Managing Director Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

How much experience does an interim role require?

On average he/she is between 50 and 60 years old; for some assignments X-PM might use people who are younger or older than this range. Certainly, he/she will have worked for more than 10 years as a leader/ middle manager/ head of a programme. The experience and appropriate fit for the task at hand is the key.

Contact us at [email protected] for further information.

Our partner organisations around the world can be seen here: www.wilgroup.net

By Amal Das, Seetha Chinnappa-Sarwal and Sushil Luniya. The authors are Partners of X-PM India.