The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Interim Manager

Jordan Management

What is an Interim Manager?

An interim manager is a highly-experienced, strategic executive who can provide the skills and expertise your business needs to solve an issue at hand. This issue could be an impending crisis of some sort, such as the resignation of a member of your c-suite, or it could be that you need objective, outside assistance with a new service or product line for the best return on investment. These individuals can easily step in and provide innovative thinking and planning while also filling key, high-level roles to allow your company to continue to prosper. Interim managers can oversee entire departments, and when a qualified candidate is hired, they will assist in the transition to this new employee as they continue to fulfill the daily responsibilities the position requires.

Hiring an interim manager provides a variety of benefits to your business, and today, more and more companies utilize interim managers as a means of improving operations within their facilities. These individuals can step in in a matter of days to address any type of issue and offer their skills to effectively solve them in a shorter amount of time. While they are advising on the situations and designing solutions, you can take the right amount of time needed to ensure you hire the perfect candidate for the position for the long-term.

Additionally, interim managers can provide their expertise in an objective manner while taking on an advisory role within your facility. It’s their goal to ensure your business will thrive, and they are able to use their experience and knowledge to allow for the best possible outcomes. Unlike utilizing a consultant, an interim manager can be a more cost-effective option for assisting with the specific needs of your business. They not only find and advise the solution your business needs, but they also help with the implementation of that solution.

How to Hire an Interim Manager in 5 Steps

Once you understand the benefits hiring an interim manager can provide, you might be ready to start the acquisition process for your own business. But, when you aren’t sure how to get started, it might become easy to get overwhelmed before the first candidate even has a chance to interview.

This is why it’s important to take some time to learn the steps involved in successfully hiring an interim manager. The process can be broken down into five easy-to-follow steps:

  1. Clearly define the problem you want to solve. The first step in hiring an interim manager is to understand the role this individual will play within your facility. Create a brief to define the areas where your business needs help, the skills required of the candidate, and what the key outcomes will be when the interim manager’s contract is complete.
  2. Finding qualified candidates. You’ll want to contact several interim management providers to find the best candidates to meet your specific needs. Once a provider has been acquired, allow them to visit your facility, meet your team and understand your company culture so they can ensure they match the right candidate to your industry. The provider usually will provide a shortlist of their best contenders for the role for your review.
  3. Simplify the interview process. It’s important to remember that interim managers are often in high demand, so choose your candidates wisely to reduce unnecessary meetings with those who may not have the qualifications you seek. Additionally, take the time to properly prepare the essential questions to ask throughout the interview. Don’t forget, because these individuals are highly sought after, it’s possible you’ll need to “sell” the position to the candidate you choose. Allow them time to ask their questions, and come ready with all possible answers to ensure you’re appealing to their interests.
  4. Be ready to go on day one. Remember, interim managers can step in and assume their role with a very small learning curve. Your current employees should be informed of this individual’s position within the company so everyone is on board and ready to move forward on day one. Keep lines of communication open, setting regular meetings with the interim manager and the team as a whole so everyone has an opportunity to report back on results, or on the areas still in need of improvement.
  5. Manage the exit. At the conclusion of the interim manager’s role, whether because your facility has hired a new employee to take their place or because the solutions created have been implemented and are performing well, it’s important to manage the exit process as thoroughly as you did the hiring process. This helps ensure the innovations or solutions the interim manager devised will to continue to allow your business to thrive in the future.

Remember, hiring an interim manager is an important investment with great advantages for your business. You’re seeking a candidate with industry experience who will deliver an immediate and lasting impact on your team and company.

The Skills Every Interim Manager Should Have

It’s also important to keep in mind as you’re looking for a qualified interim manager that you are not just hiring an individual who has experience within your industry. While, of course, you should focus on the candidate’s technical skills and competencies, you also want to hire someone with the proper personality and behavioral traits to ensure he or she will fit in with the values and mission of your current team.

In general, a qualified interim manager should possess the following skills on top of their professional expertise of your industry:

  • Ability to effectively communicate. Interim managers are in their position with your company for the short-term, so they need to be able to integrate quickly. Strong interpersonal communication skills are a must, and they must be able to deliver messages clearly to variety of audiences, including team members at all levels of seniority. Additionally, the ability to quickly build relationships with others is also key to their overall success.
  • Strongly driven by outcomes. One of the most important reasons for hiring an interim manager is to get the positive results and lasting benefits your business needs. A well-qualified interim manager will be solely focused on outcomes, staying on deadline, and seeing each project through to the very end.
  • Can adapt quickly. It’s crucial for interim managers to be flexible within their work days and hours, to be adaptable to different environments and company cultures, and have the ability to shift gears quickly as needed. The interim manager you should hire for your company should be knowledgeable about your specific industry, but also have certain skills that are necessary in any industry – like the good communication skills mentioned previously.
  • Ability to think strategically. Because an interim manager’s skills can often be applied across several industries, being able to think strategically also has a significant impact on their success. He or she should be able to look at the big picture within your organization and quickly discern what tactics will lead to the best results.
  • Can deal with ambiguity. While the interim manager’s role should be as clearly defined as possible, they should also be comfortable stepping in before having a complete picture of what may be required of them. They should also have the ability to remain calm and in control, regardless of the situation they are entering.

An interim manager’s professional experience should include all of the above attributes, along with a proven track record of positive results. Often, interim managers are motivated to continue to improve their own performances by advancing their skills and learning as much as possible about a wide variety of industries. This helps them stay marketable and successful in the career path they’ve chosen.

Common Questions about Hiring an Interim Manager

Some of the most frequently asked questions about hiring an interim manager include:

Q: What is the difference between an interim manager and a management consultant?

A: While these two roles are similar, there are several key differences. First, an interim manager will help implement the solutions they suggest, while a consultant simply provides the advice to the client. The consultant works for a large consulting firm, and is ultimately accountable to the firm, not your company. However, the interim manager becomes a full-time member of your team for the short-term, and they are dedicated to providing the outcomes your business needs to thrive. Additionally, interim managers are considered specialists in their fields, and a management consultant generally has a more varied background and experience.

Q: Is an interim manager considered an employee?

A: Interim managers are not employees of a consulting firm or your company. This means that while they do possess the skills and motivation needed to work for your business and can become a valued member of your team throughout their tenure, they will not need employee benefits like health insurance or a 401k.

Q: What type of company benefits from hiring interim managers?

A: Companies of all sizes, from small start-ups to national corporations in a wide variety of industries can benefit from hiring an interim manager. If your business has needs beyond your current capacity or key executive roles to fill for the short-term, it could be beneficial to utilize an interim manager.

Q: Why should my company hire an interim manager instead of a permanent staff member?

A: For the long term and future of your company, hiring a permanent executive is of course ideal. However, during the transitional period or times of crisis, interim managers can step in and provide the skills your organization needs. Additionally, in many cases, interim managers can assist in the recruiting and hiring process to fill the role permanently.

Q: How long will an interim manager work for your company?

A: Assignments can run anywhere from a few months to over a year, depending on your company’s specific needs. Research shows the average length is a total of 170 days, but again, this is dependent upon the situation. Finding a permanent, high-level executive replacement can take six to eight months, for example.

Q: What happens when it’s time for the interim manager to transition out of the assignment?

A: Interim managers provide detailed documentation to their permanent replacement, and they can also act as a mentor throughout the transition. This means they will ensure an organized transfer of knowledge, with thorough reporting on outcomes or a complete action plan to guarantee nothing gets lost in the changing of hands.

Interim Management Services for the Manufacturing Industry from MRN

Hiring an interim manager can be an extremely cost-effective to solution to a variety of issues within your organization. If your business requires assistance with project management and the implementation of a new technology, is dealing with the sudden loss of a senior executive, needs help  managing a crisis, or turning around an underperforming division or service, consider hiring this strategic, experienced professional for the short- or long-term.

Manufacturing Resource Network was founded by Gerry Nejman and Jordan Owens in 2014, with the mission to provide immediate technical and leadership expertise to manufacturers.  Offering a team of associates with a broad array of technical and professional services, MRN can provide key management and executives for every department in your manufacturing facility. We offer flexible interim manufacturing management services for the short- or long-term – as long as your hiring process takes. Our hands-on professionals are ready to fill any role in your company with the skills and experience you seek. They can also provide mentorship, assist with strategic planning, serve as technical advisors and more.

Contact us today to learn more about interim manufacturing management from MRN.