By Alium Partners – a Globalise member
Appointing a team of interim managers isn’t easy, but done properly, it can be well worth the effort. Here’s what to consider to make sure the decision is rewarded.
Interims are often seen as a lone rangers. Specialised professionals who fix problems, with help of no one but the highly experienced voice in their brain.
But sometimes businesses need the help of more than just one person, which is where interim teams come in. These are collections of specialists, often with a wide range of skills and experiences. They have capacity that doesn’t exist within the business as it stands.
Employing an entire team of interims sounds like a big step, and it is. There is a lot of investment and risk involved. But with the right planning, thought and strategy, an interim team can be the just the thing your organisation needs.
1. A mission statement
Working with interims usually happens when an organisation lacks the in-house talent to deliver a project internally. There can be numerous reasons for this: an opportunity, challenging circumstances, gaining a foothold in a market or country, difficulty implementing change, an unexpected leadership vacuum, or a dozen other situations that require an outsider’s perspective or new talent, of some description.
At this point, a company can be faced with three choices: find a consultancy, recruit new staff or work with an interim.
For the sake of the argument, let’s assume you want to weigh up the pros and cons of an interim team. Firstly, this means assessing current teams and respective workloads, to be sure there is not, realistically, the resources to solve your specific problem internally. Avoiding a ‘them vs. us’ mentality when bringing in interims is important since interim teams will need cooperation from functional managers when driving forward the change you need.
Empower them with a mission statement that gives the interim team sufficient latitude to accomplish your goals. Ensure you have buy-in from the relevant managers and departments; make sure the path has been cleared before they land. Most interim teams are there to deliver specific projects, which is easier without them taking departmental crossfire, or worse, a prolonged siege before they can achieve anything of value.
2. A singular deployment
There are two ways to recruit an interim team: on demand, or deployed like a special forces team, in one go. A team with a singular purpose, a clear mission statement and recruited at the same time, for this reason, has a greater chance of success.
Whilst interims are not ego-driven since they don’t set out to establish political turf or dominate departments, recruiting at the same time bonds interims more closely, before they deliver value.
3. Appoint a leader
Interim teams need a clear chain of command. It will help ensure success to have in an interim team leader, a first among equals, to drive the mission forward, and a single point person for the organisation. This way ego clashes are avoided and everyone has a role to play within the team.
4. Ensure ongoing engagement
An effective team isn’t a unit kept apart from internal teams. The most successful interim teams are their own unit, whilst being embedded, or at least a functioning part, of other teams within your organisation.
The aim of most project-based teams will be to leave a working legacy that can be implemented going forward, either by a permanent team that they will help hire and train, or in the case of change management, by your existing staff, throughout the organisation.
This should mean that training and handover of intellectual property is an ongoing process. When interim teams leave without passing on new procedures or knowledge, it can leave organisations questioning the value of their involvement. Lines of communication, within the company should be established and actively maintained by all members of the interim team.
5. Assess cultural fit
Cultural fit is a key consideration, when hiring any new member of staff. The same applies when working with an interim team.
When assessing team candidates, make sure to ask the right questions to ensure there’s a strong values alignment. There’s nothing worse than finding a values and egos clash after you have hired someone. At senior levels this can lead to costly disagreements and dysfunctional working relationships, the opposite of teamwork.
6. Provide ongoing feedback
Interim teams are comprised of self-starters, who are skilled at making decisions and leading other teams. However, leaving them in the jungle to fight without support and feedback could result in them getting bogged down in difficult situations when a simpler route exists.
Don’t ignore the fact that engagement works both ways. Interims will come armed with questions, but not all will cover the knowledge transfer they will need to be successful. Institutional expertise can help guide interims when they need it, but those in leadership roles mustn’t stick too rigidly to their usual ways of doing things either; since that’s one key advantage from working with interims.
- Provide a clear mission statement: Big enough goals to provide a challenge and demonstrate a clear case for working with interims
- Recruit and deploy a team together, giving them the ability to bond in the early days of the mission;
- Ensure the team has a leader and a clear chain of command within your organisation;
- At the same time, don’t silo them. An interim team should be embedded within existing team frameworks, to ensure knowledge transfers are happening ongoing;
- Ensure there’s a strong cultural fit between the team, organisations values and those they will be working closest with;
- Provide ongoing feedback, to ensure everyone is on the same page and the mission is going according to plan.
Businesses wanting to stay in front and keep up the pace in digital transformation are required to move fast. Change and adaptability is imperative, possibly the most important, to pave the future. Those quickly adapting, win!
“Remember that change process we undertook in 1990? Those were the days!”.
Not anymore. Times when businesses were done with change processes are gone. Technology, digitalisation and disruption is now. Digital transformation has no boundaries. Robots build cars and perform surgery. Driverless cars are trialed and have the green light. The majority, if not most, of our lives are controlled from a cloud (or a mobile device). Where we purchase and how we use the goods and its services tomorrow, are completely unknown today.
Digital transformation is happening brutally fast – what is new and revolutionary somewhere in the world yesterday, is possibly already outdated by competition tomorrow, or today for that matter. Digital innovation is happening at the speed of light (at least it feels like it) and business models are being challenged by what is termed as Digital Disruption. This riveting development not only requires rapid change and adaption of businesses, it demands cutting-edge innovation across competing technology companies. Digital disruptionhits hard on other sectors that may not be well prepared.
When will this reach my sector?
The question is somewhat outdated already!
When will digital disruption and paradigm shift to your industry and your business? Are you prepared? Do you have the right people to cope with changes, including the correct management in place? Is there enough drive and tenacity among the management and on the companys´ board to set new speed when needed?
I think it is important to raise your gaze and be prepared that “more sooner than later” digital disruption will be on your doorstep, almost no matter where you work. It can also be a good idea to have a plan for how you are going to meet the changes.
Quick adaption is a “must”
Adaptability is critical for survival in this digital age. Some manage it – others don´t. From 2000 to 2014 half the companies on the Fortune 500 list disappeared! Perhaps this is not so strange: Big businesses have a larger ship to turn around, and when change is not happening fast enough or in the right direction, they become abruptly irrelevant.
Kodak is perhaps the most famous for many examples so far, of their inability to seriously see the need for digital transition. The “digital giant”, Nokia, lost the market because they were not fast enough with their adaptability to digital innovation.
I personally remember the resistance we met in SAS when introducing automatic check-in at Gardermoen. Now we are seeing staff-free border control in countries like Australia!
Development comes by putting yourself at the forefront, instead of sitting on the fence or even trying to stop it.
First to the future
Willi Railo wrote a book with a good title «Først til fremtiden», translated to “First to the future”. It has always been a favorite of mine. The future is created, by the one that gets there first! The rest follows more or less voluntarily thereafter – until death.
It´s the mentality in this picture which, in my opinion, is important when realigning a business quickly enough to survive. Making change, and an arena for thought change, a usual activity of your business. Never stop ideas with “but we have already tried this” mentality. Encourage innovation by those who dare to speak out and think outside of the box!
I’m not saying it’s easy. Ideas and new thoughts can also be a challenge. It takes time to rethink things we are already doing, right?
Common goals within personal and leadership
What does it take to “create the future”? My advice is: good insight in current and future skills needed in your own organization, dynamic movement in the existing expertise, along with a proactive culture (“how we do it here”).
Good management is essential to create the confidence that is needed in times of restructuring. Managers who have been in battle before, know how to deal with it. Don’t be afraid to replace a distance runner with a shot putter, if it’s a shot putter you need. Dare to acknowledge who is good for what is required and use the strength of another in their area of expertise.
In conclusion, I will venture to create a formula:
Dynamic management = Dynamic company = business survival skills and safe jobs (albeit new).
Darwin is right… The most adaptable survive!
O IMGroup patrocina o almoço e conversa com o Bernardinho sobre Achievement and Sustainability
Terça, 8/Maio, 12 hs, Four Seasons Hotel Miami