How do companies manage to land their roles in the current interim market?
Times of change are sensible periods to use an interim manager or consultant to carry out value-driven, business-critical projects. If market conditions prompt an organization to think about its shape, its staff and staffing levels, then an interim management or consultancy assignment can pay enormous dividends. Such an assignment may cover analysis, creation of potential ways ahead and, importantly, implementation. Business leadership often has insufficient time to devote attention toallcrucial issues.
Many organizations acknowledge that they need support for a specified period of time, and recognize that bringing in specialist resources on an interim basis provides a cost-effective, short-term solution without the ongoing costs and commitment of permanent employment. Interims, whose fees may come from different budgets, are seen as more attractive than permanent staff. The interim market has always been about providing flexible, prompt, value-for-money solutions, and that does not change with the market circumstances. The decision to hire an interim manager or consultant is made only after internal resources, or the chance to delay a project, have been exhausted in the first instance – hence reducing the volume of assignments in the market.
Furthermore, new interims are targeting jobs prized by career interims, as the freshly redundant try to secure their finances by embarking on the interim path. As a consequence competition among interims has heated up. Interims network like crazy and tailor their skills to their potential clients. The result is a market saturated by (old and new) interims, some of whom are not up to the job, and a growing mismatch between supply and demand. Many applications are from those who have been working in the industry sector (e.g. financial services) and have been made redundant. While it is clear many of them are looking for a stopgap, their experience and backgrounds do not necessarily mean they will make good interim managers or consultants. When hiring an interim, organizations need to be aware that experienced interim managers and consultants have specific skills that allow them amongst others to assimilate into organizations quickly, bring themselves up to speed, and act as an external catalyst to change. These skills may not have been developed by a former permanent employee embarking on an interim management or consultancy role for the first time. Organizations are not looking for interims who want to learn on the job, they need (over-qualified) experts with the necessary skills and experience to immediately make a difference.
In sum, many companies struggle to land their roles despite the herds of available candidates. Identifying which interim managers or freelance consultants need to be recruited through the downturn is, however, crucial if organizations are to emerge effectively into the eventual upturn. Deploying the wrong interims once the economy starts to improve could offset some of the gains of a recovery. But understanding who these people are is hard. The use of technology by HR professionals to identify the best interims, has led to a significant increase in the number of companies analyzing large online databases and placing ads on online (freelance) platforms. Still many companies feel they are spending more time and money processing candidates who cannot deliver what need to be done. Even though the market is awash with qualified professionals, many companies have difficulties in finding candidates capable to make a difference to the organization. The type of interims most companies are looking for is still very rare. Organizations should deploy clearly defined processes designed to find candidates who have solved similar problems to the ones the business faces. Also the help of a specialized consulting and interim management firm, with a high-quality network of interims with a successful track record of assignments, is a solution to effectively and efficiently select candidates who will deliver results the company needs.
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