The face of interim management is changing. Traditionally, an interim manager was someone at the end of his career who chose interim management to extend his working years.
This is changing fast. An increasing number of managers – both men and women – have entered the market in recent years, intent on making a career of interim management. That’s no surprise. The rewards of interim management make it a great career choice if you have the skills and personality for it, and don’t mind its few disadvantages.
Interim management benefits
Interim executives enjoy the challenge of working on different assignments with tight schedules in various industries and various locations. Globalization and increased mobility create a truly global market for interim managers. They are a new breed of executive nomads who enjoy traveling the world, sharing their management expertise wherever they go.
Assignments focus on achieving specific business outcomes desired by the companies that hire interims. This limited timespan lets interims concentrate on achieving the solutions and largely frees them from the need to get involved in company politics, a focus and freedom that many interims find one of the most enjoyable parts of the job.
Interims also relish the opportunity to work on the most challenging of problems and leave the daily humdrum tasks that go into daily maintenance to someone else. Although interim managers are hired for their specific areas of expertise, they always face challenges that push them beyond their current knowledge, offering the opportunity to engage in lifelong learning and growth.
Compensation is not bad either. The best-paid interim managers earn between £250,000 ($380,000AUD) and £350,000 ($535,000AUD) a year:
- 42% charge between £500 ($760AUD) and £750 ($1,150AUD) a day.
- 17% charge between £750 – £1,000 ($1,150AUD – $1,550AUD) a day.
- 7% charge between £1,000 ($1,550AUD) and £1,250 ($1,900AUD) a day.
- 3% charge in excess of £1,250 ($1,900AUD) a day.
No wonder interim management attracts an exciting and diverse mix of highly skilled individuals! Before you decide to dive into it, though, be aware of its requirements and potential disadvantages.
Interim management disadvantages
Interim managers are highly specialized executives with vast experience in their field of expertise. You need an outstanding track record of achievement to get hired. In fact, without at least a decade of management experience and some clear, measurable achievements, it will be hard to find rewarding assignments. As an interim manager, you’re only as good as your most recent assignment.
Also, interim management does not provide the security of a permanent job. You have no guarantee when you finish one assignment that another will be waiting. Your networking and social skills are essential to finding new assignments. Even with good networking, you’ll likely experience occasional droughts where you find no new work. So, you need financial security to weather lean times.
Moving from company to company means constantly adjusting to new environments and a changing array of new faces. That requires openness to change, to new people and to new ideas, as well as the ability to adapt rapidly to whatever you encounter.
You will frequently enter an organisation amid trouble and tension. This requires diplomacy to remain out of the fray and focus on quickly solving the problems you were hired to solve.
Interim management trends
Interim management is a growing force in the management industry, and all indicators steadily point upward. The public sector employs almost 20 per cent more interim managers than the private sector, but private sector employment increases steadily because of growing awareness of the excellent reputation for quick and effective strategic management that interim managers are earning. That suggests that the excellent growth the interim management industry enjoys will only accelerate.
Interim manager profiles are changing, too. What was once an industry staffed by older workers seeking to extend their careers after suffering redundancy is growing younger, as demand for the specialized expertise of interim managers grows. Many now choose it not as an alternative to forced retirement, but as a preferred career option.
The average age of interim managers is decreasing. The number of interim managers in the 56-65 age group has declined nearly by half in the past five years, while the 36-45 and 46-55 age groups have increased.
In addition to the younger age of the typical interim manager, gender equality in the field is also on the rise. Merely 5% of the interim management workforce in 1999 was women, compared to 24% today. And that number is rising steadily. A 2011 study showed that women were 33% more likely to be hired for an interim management position than men, as an increasing number of companies find that the characteristics, skills and approaches that women bring to an interim management assignment are well suited to the cooperative effort needed.
The type of openings available for interim managers has remained consistent over the years. Most are in the fields of HR (Human Resource) or Finance, with HR employing more than 40% of the workforce. Lesser levels of demand include Purchasing, Supply Chain and IT, with IT and Managing Director/CEO roles commanding the highest remuneration.
Interim management today is much more than an alternative to retirement for highly skilled specialists. It is a vibrant career choice with plenty to offer those who have the skills and personality to handle it.
It offers ongoing new challenges and lifelong learning opportunities. It offers a chance to work around the world in a variety of top companies, without getting embroiled in the day-to-day humdrum and politics of them. And it offers exceptional compensation while enjoying all those other benefits.
Interim management isn’t for everybody. But if you have the expertise and mindset to embrace both its benefits and drawbacks, it can be an exciting and rewarding career choice for you.