The independence that working as an Interim Manager (IM) affords brings both benefits and challenges.
The opportunity to strike a work-life balance that suits your individual needs can be liberating. The variety that different assignments offer can bring excitement and challenge, and the chance to make a difference can bring significant satisfaction.
However, that same independence means IMs are often left to figure out the next move alone.
Herein lies the challenge. Interim managers are responsible for selling, marketing, and promoting themselves to gain work assignments. It’s a task that doesn’t come easy to some IMs; without assignments, there is no interim manager.
The Institute of Interim Management reported some 64 of interim management providers operating in the UK along. So, as an interim manager, how do you know who to engage with and who is best placed to find your next interim role?
How to select an interim management provider
- Find an interim management provider that specialises in your sector
First and foremost, it’s essential to identify providers that match and actively represent your skillset. Whether retail or manufacturing, transformation or finance, choosing a provider that speaks your language is a must.
Not only do they speak your language, but to become sector-specialists they will have spent years building a solid network of trusted clients, sometimes having worked in or recruited for those sectors in-house previously. The job of a consultant is essentially that of a matchmaker – it’s much more intimate than other types of recruitment – particularly as an interim assignment only lasts a short amount of time, the right match from the offset is crucial. This intimacy of strong relationships with both the client and the interim manager, that doesn’t just consider skills and experience but also a culture match means that as an interim manager you are more likely to put forward for roles that are a genuine fit.
Conducting a little research on the company website or LinkedIn should give you a quick and easy overview of their consultants’ credentials. Developing a solid relationship with these specialists will be vital to helping you identify and secure suitable assignments.
- Get referrals from other interim managers and providers
Developing good partnerships with interim management providers will take time to happen. However, getting referrals from other interim managers and providers will help you identify those most suited to you, with good reputations.
Once you’ve reached out to the right interim management provider, you should expect to receive a response within a few days. You will, most likely, get invited to an introductory call or interview with one of its consultants.
- Review the Institute of Interim Management (IIM) – www.iim.org.uk
The IIM is the governing body for the industry and as such is an excellent trusted source of information for interim managers.
Notably they conduct an annual survey, independently voted for by thousands of interim managers, reviewing interim management providers. This report is essentially the industry Yellow Pages with the added benefit of rankings to help you to identify providers best positioned to support you.
At NSCG, we wear our Platinum badge with pride. We’ve appeared in the top three providers for years and this year, two of our consultants feature in the top ten and with the consultant in the top spot proudly working at NSCG.
If you find that providers have multiple consultants relevant to your areas of expertise, you should push to meet all of them where possible. Meeting all relevant consultants will give you great exposure and increase your chances of consideration for assignments. If they aren’t available, then ensure that your CV is being circulated appropriately.
- Be selective when choosing interim management providers
Signing up with many interim management providers may seem like a good idea, but it’s unlikely to help you in the long term.
Building fewer but stronger relationships with a select number of relevant providers is more likely to pay dividends over time.
The better you know a provider or consultant and the more they know about and trust you as an IM, the stronger the partnership and the higher the chance of securing assignments.
- Ask who are they working with
Have a look at who they work with. Most providers will showcase their clients on their website but it’s important to bear in mind that interim opportunities are often confidential. Any logos you see will likely be a selection and job postings are more often that not anonymised.
How best to work with an interim management provider
The most fruitful IM and interim management provider relationships are the ones where both parties invest in the process and work in partnership together.
Signing up with a provider and then just waiting for them to contact you is unlikely to foster strong ties or gain buy-in from the provider.
It’s a two-way process where communication is key.
Here are a few recommendations for building a good relationship with an interim management provider:
- Treat the relationship as a partnership where you give as well as take.
- Agree to a communications process that works for you both.
- Gain a clear understanding of how the provider works.
- When and how will they contact you?
- How will they introduce your details to clients?
- What feedback do they give and when?
- What do they expect of you?
- Listen to and act on advice given by your provider, such as CV improvements.
- Always provide references or case studies where possible to help build your reputation and credibility with your interim management provider.
- Share industry insights and knowledge and keep your provider updated on your circumstances.
- Make introductions – it is an excellent way of building a lasting and trusting relationship. They will pay it back.
- Remain as flexible as possible and be open regarding rates of pay.
- Have the confidence to negotiate but take on board your interim management provider’s advice.
- Recommendations go a long way in interim management, so refer and get referred.
The more collaborative and constructive your interactions and relationships are, the better your chances of building a strong reputation and securing regular referrals, opportunities and assignments.