Using an interim manager enables an organisation to harness the skills of a highly experienced individual to fulfill specific needs at a particular point in time in an organisation’s development.
During any period of transition, crisis or change a company will require skills, knowledge and expertise that does not exist within the business. Without these skills, the organisation’s sustainability, growth and sometimes survival could be at risk. An interim manager may offer expertise and support to a challenged management team. The expertise and support could be by providing sound commercial or financial management skills. Or by bringing wise counsel to a team who has lost its way, or is lacking the ability to tackle key management challenges around employees, commercial relationships, systems and processes. Here are five indicators that an interim manager could help your company;
1 Growing at a pace that is beyond the current team
Rapid growth creates its own set of challenges. One of those is the existing management team running out of capacity as well as the skill sets appropriate to managing what is becoming a larger business. As the business grows, appealing to more clients, employing more people, developing its infrastructure, needing better and more resilient controls (finance, policies, quality) additional knowledge and skills may be required to support the transition from the current state to a future state. I have been in that position myself and have brought in interim’s to deal with very specific issues where I judged those skills did not exist in the business. For example, during one growth phase it was evident the incumbent finance team were not able to provide the strategic financial service the business needed. This was not due to a lack of knowledge of their existing roles. It was that the business needs had evolved beyond the existing team’s skill-set. The team were stressed. I brought in an interim CFO to redefine the needs of the business, refine the financial controls, and reshape the existing finance team. The external perspective this brought, together with the ability to challenge the status quo was just what the business and the finance team needed at the time. The difference pre and post intervention was a shift from a stressed dysfunctional team that did not support the business, to a harmonious energised team that did. Plus, the redesigned controls gave a far better overview of financial health of the business.
2 The market has changed and the business needs restructuring
Evolution in business is constant. Markets change for reasons outside of a company’s control; for example, change in political policy, or customer choices, recession and technological changes. This requires a business to restructure operations and people. Historically I have carried out such restructures myself, with the support of functional heads (finance, HR, co. sec., managers) and have considerable experience of the process. However, and in hindsight, the appointment of an interim would have been a better choice. Restructuring is complex and time consuming and is wholly internally focused. The appointment of interim would have facilitated more external focus to continue during the restructuring process.
3 Impending Merger and Acquisition Activity
Merger and acquisition activity requires skills across a range of disciplines; finance, HR, corporate, commercial, legal, technology, processes, systems, culture, project management.
Around 70% of recorded mergers and acquisitions failed in 2015 (Harvard business review). Common reasons for failure are;
• Lack of business rationale in the first instance.
• Lack of cultural alignment.
• Poor integration management.
• According to HBR, “Companies that focus on what they are going to get from an acquisition are less likely to succeed than those that focus on what they have to give it.”
Unless you are part of large organisation, regularly conducting successful M and A’s, it is highly unlikely you will have access to the blend of in-house skills needed to optimise the value of M and A activity. An interim manager, with a successful track record of acquiring, integrating and disposing of businesses should help you avoid joining the 70% failure statistic!
4 Grinding gears – broken business processes
Broken or outdated business processes will constrain growth, irritate customers and employees, and create potential points of failure in the business. Technology can fix most, if not all, of your business processes, but if you are busy working in the business it is unlikely you will capacity to work on the business. An interim manager with business process experience and exposure to lean training, together with good understanding of technology applications will deliver business process improvement.
5 Your business is facing a crisis
Crisis can manifest itself in many ways. If your business is facing one, and you suspect the current management team are unable to turn the situation around without help, then get the help you need. The cost of delaying the decision will likely be more than the cost of hiring help. In a crisis, an interim manager will;
• Provide wise counsel to an already stretched team.
• Experience and perspective from outside the organisation.
• Dependent on the nature of the crisis, a plugging of specific skills gaps.
If you are an owner / manager, or director of a business and sense one or more of these signs to be apparent, and feel help is needed, it will be a false economy to continue as is.
Feel free to contact Mutarem Management and have a confidential exploratory conversation.