Someone external who isn’t blinded by operational matters and who doesn’t have any social interests in the company, and as such, can identify problems and shake up those entrenched practices. The parameters required to achieve work in a goal-driven, problem-solving manner are set out thanks to cost transparency and flexibility in terms of time, without the high additional charges of employing someone in a permanent role. So far, so good.
A report from experience
The first working day is certainly a highlight. In the best case scenario, the interim manager is officially introduced and the project-related tasks are explained to company employees, or rather they are encouraged to make the project (mostly with a lack of detailed information) a success, with full support being provided. Just one look at their faces is enough to perceive a whole range of preconceptions. Why do we need someone external who knows nothing about our internal procedures to throw their weight around? And to add insult to injury, for a lot of money that could be spent in other areas where we need it most? Do I, as an expert with a wealth of experience, now have to listen to someone else tell me how I should do my job? Should I be scared of losing my job?
Going forward, there are even new challenges to be faced at the management level. Managerial responsibilities have to be handed over. Decisions can no longer be made by one person alone, but decision-making processes should now all start with discussions with the interim management. The flow of information should now include the new participant and it must run smoothly. In my opinion, the most important skill that an interim manager must possess is the ability to carry out their content-related work whilst maintaining the highest degree of social competence. Content comprehension isn’t where things go wrong. To begin with, there’s a lot of information to take in, but the wheel, in process engineering terms, doesn’t have to be reinvented in every company. In social terms, things are packed with suspense. To begin with, everyone is keeping up appearances, being superficially polite and also extremely helpful when it comes to exchanging information. People like to talk about what they do all day long and what works well. Even complaining is great – finally, someone who listens to us. And then there’s the classic: “We want those up there at the top to finally see it and do something about it!”
And then we delve deeper into the processes. The desired external viewpoint of the interim manager and the constant “Why?” give rise to the first excuses, resistance sprouts and uncertainty spreads. Values such as superior and colleague loyalty, one’s own need for security and the desire to be appreciated create the first small ripples. Change management and, time and again, recalling the common objective and benefits are part of an interim manager’s daily life.
A temporary, external manager could obviously make themselves unpopular as, once the project is finished, they go back to where they came from. However, that only makes sense in homeopathic doses, by triggering new thought processes and providing new ways of working. If the relationship doesn’t work, the project objective is also put at risk. When work has a real human side, then things get really exciting. For me, that’s the icing on the cake of interim management and enables all those involved to grow.