The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Interim CEO

Gerry Consulting, Management

The chief executive officer (CEO) is the highest ranking executive in a corporation or organization. While the responsibilities of the job vary depending on the mission and goals of each particular manufacturing company, in general, a CEO handles all the major corporate decisions, from creation, planning, implementation and integration of all strategies.

Typically, the CEO must report to the Board of Directors and serve at their discretion. In some cases, the CEO is also the owner or founder of the business, so he or she will be fully committed to the company’s overall success.

Does Your Company Need an Interim CEO?

A CEO is the key player in how well an organization will succeed.  However, there are circumstances when an organization may find itself without this important leadership role. These include:

  • CEO has moved into another position
  • CEO has reached retirement age, and there is no successor immediately lined up
  • Recently hired CEO was not a good match for the organization
  • CEO leaves for another opportunity
  • Sickness or death

Depending on the size of the company, it’s estimated that the hiring process can take an organization from four months up to an entire year to fill the CEO role. Rushing to hire the best candidate can have dire results, too, as the selection process may go too quickly, causing the position to get filled by an individual who is not the best fit. This could mean the organization will end up right back where it started, searching for the right person for the CEO position, and wasting both time and money.

This is where hiring an interim CEO becomes a better decision. An experienced interim CEO can arrive at your manufacturing company with the laser focus and vision needed to make a positive impact quickly. He or she has a wealth of knowledge about your industry, or often, multiple industries, and is ready to tackle the challenges at hand. Interim CEOs have your organization’s best interests in mind, as they are held accountable for results.

5 Best Practices for Hiring an Interim CEO

So, your CEO has left the company for one of the reasons above and now this major leadership role has been left empty. You want to ensure a bright future for your company and fill the role with the best permanent replacement, and you know the hiring process may be lengthy. The decision has been made that hiring an interim CEO is the best option, but how do you get started?

Some of the key considerations to keep in mind when hiring an interim CEO include:

  • Consider the ROI. Hiring an interim CEO is an investment. You’re paying for his or her skills, experience and ability to step in and take control at basically at moment’s notice. You need to remember that the interim CEO’s goal is to improve the value of your business.
  • Let the interim CEO have control. As the owner of a company, it might be difficult to relinquish control over the day to day decisions. However, when you hire an interim CEO it’s important to allow him or her to have power and to be in charge. This means permitting the interim CEO to do what he or she does best: resolve problems. Interim manufacturing CEOs can make the difficult decisions you’ve been hesitant or unwilling to make, and it’s important to give them full authority over hiring/firing, contracting and more – anything the former CEO was responsible for.
  • Be prepared for change. You might find changes within your organization throughout this time, but it’s best to take a step back and embrace them. Your company culture may change, processes may be altered, and key relationships will shift to the interim CEO. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that all these changes are being made to solve problems and achieve the organization’s goals.
  • Hold the interim CEO accountable. For an interim CEO to be as successful as possible, define and clearly set measurable goals to accomplish. Because he or she is only there for the short-term, set them up to be as successful as possible by establishing exactly what it is you would like to achieve – and a way to determine if those goals were met.
  • Don’t micromanage. This goes back to the point about allowing the interim CEO to have full control over the business. Remember, this is an experienced professional with a proven track record of success. Get out of the way and allow them to do what they do best. As long as goals are being met, there’s no need for you to step in and get involved.

An interim CEO may require owners to step outside of their comfort zones, but they can help the organization achieve the goals the owner cannot.

What to Look for in an Effective Interim CEO

Along the same lines of hiring an interim manager  for your business, you’re looking for an individual with experience in your industry and someone with the same values, personality and behavioral traits as your current team. This key executive should not just be able to help your organization reach its goals. While their skillset is important, you’re also looking for someone who will understand your company’s mission, vision and fit in with other key team members.

In addition to their professional expertise, any qualified interim CEO should be able to effectively communicate and build relationships with the team. Because he or she is only with the organization for a short term, being able to quickly integrate and adapt is key. While often an interim CEO will implement impactful changes within the organization, he or she should also be willing to acclimate to the environment and culture, along with have the ability to quickly shift gears as needed. How well an interim CEO can build relationships within the corporation can be a component in reaching goals and meeting expectations.

A qualified interim CEO should also be solely focused on outcomes and seeing each project or decision through to the end, all while staying on deadline. The strategic skills interim CEOs should have often can be applied across a variety of industries with a clear vision of what tactics will result in the most success.

And, while the interim CEO’s role and goals should be defined from day one, he or she should also be comfortable thinking outside the box. Regardless of the situation they are stepping in to, the ability to keep a clear head and stay in control is another major component to his or her success – and the organizations’.

The bottom line: when choosing an interim CEO, consider the above attributes as well as how successful he or she has been in past endeavors.

Administrative Considerations When Hiring an Interim CEO

Transitioning to an interim CEO, or even a new CEO, takes some administration preparation. No matter the reason for the previous CEO’s departure, after preparing the board for the hiring process, there are steps your organization needs to take on the administrative end, too. These steps include:

  • Prepare the team. The staff should be made aware of the appointment of the interim CEO through an internal memo. This memo should include information about the interim CEO’s role, explaining this individual will be filling the position until a permanent replacement can be hired.
  • Organize the administrative calendar of events. The interim CEO should be privy to such information and activities such as when staff performance reviews are due, special company events or team meetings, payroll dates and contract renewal or expiration dates. Being armed with this information will not only keep the interim CEO on track and organized, but it will also help set them up for the most success.
  • Set up the interim CEO’s office. The office the interim CEO will be working in should be properly set up before his or her arrival. As they settle into the role, make sure files and drawers are properly labeled and that other key staff members have access to any major documents or files they made need.
  • Reveal any current personnel issues. Board members should meet with the interim CEO upon their arrival to discuss any issues with the current team, especially if there are any actions pending in the near future, before a permanent CEO is hired.
  • Complete team performance reviews prior to departure. Before the interim CEO transitions out of the role to allow the permanent replacement to step in, get their feedback regarding the current staff. These reviews allow the new CEO to receive important input about employees to ensure he or she can provide the proper supervision going forward.

How to Orient Your New Interim CEO

Additionally on the administrative side, once the interim CEO has been hired there are a few steps to take to get them oriented into the role. First, verify the start date and provide him or her with the company policies manual or handbook to allow them time to get a feel for the organization’s culture, mission, vision and goals. During this time, stakeholders should also be made aware of the interim CEO’s hire date, as well as given a bit of his or her background and experience.

A team meeting should be scheduled to introduce the interim CEO to the organization. Depending on the size of the company, all staff can attend this meeting for one-on-one introductions, or at the very least, other top executives and managers should be included in the meeting. Make sure the interim CEO is familiar with the building; he or she should be comfortable finding the kitchen, break room or restrooms, know how to use the phones, copier, fax machines and more. If necessary, schedule training sessions to cover any specialized software or procedures.

Throughout the interim CEO’s tenure, or at least during the first six weeks, meetings should be held with other key team members to ensure the transition is going smoothly, any pending issues are discussed, and that a relationship is established between the interim CEO and the staff.

Fill Key Roles While Permanent Staffing Decisions are Made with Manufacturing Resource Network

Whether your organization requires an interim CEO to help handle a crisis situation, implement new technology and procedures or help you meet your goals, this cost-effective solution can keep your business on track until a permanent replacement is found. Remember, the average search for a new CEO can take up to a full year, and it’s important to find immediate leadership to keep your organization on track.

Manufacturing Resource Network offers a team of associates with a broad array of both technical and professional services. Founded by Gerry Nejman and Jordan Owens in 2014, MRN’s mission is to provide immediate technical and leadership expertise to manufacturers, ready to fill any role in your company with hands-on professionals who have the right skills and experience. Find an interim CEO to fill this key leadership role for the short-or long-term; however long it takes for your company to find the perfect candidate.

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