• Estimated read time: 6 mins
  • Date posted:24/06/2019
  • Share:

Interim management is defined by the Institute of Interim Management as the “…the provision of effective business solutions by an independent, board or near-board level manager or executive, over a finite timespan.” It originated in the Netherlands in the late 20th century in response to the substantial notice periods and costs associated with executive management. An oil crisis and series of recessions created the perfect conditions for interim management to gain a foothold, with weakened companies in desperate need of highly skilled and experienced business leaders to turnaround their fortunes.

Today, interim service providers supply public and private companies with a ready supply of senior executives or technical specialists across the value chain. These knowledge workers, referred to as ‘interim managers’,  provide surplus or specialist management resource to:

  • Execute and deliver a specific organisational assignment, for example, delivering digital transformation of a manufacturing facility.
  • Plug a specialised skills gap that exists within the organisation, for example, following an impromptu exit by a senior executive.

The rise of interim management reflects the highly competitive and increasing unpredictable environment that corporations face. Few, if any organisations have the luxury of developing the specific skills needed to keep pace with market developments, let alone anticipate and monetize them. Recruiting senior executives to fill the skills gap is both resource intensive and high risk; even the most proficient executive search process will result in a leadership-level hire in the timeframe that many Interim Managers would consider as a tempting proposition. As such, interim management empowers organisations to break free of the shackles that traditionally hinder their recruitment efforts and hire whom they need, when they need it.

What are the benefits of interim management? 

Interim management allows you to scale or rescind your executive management capacity to reflect:

  • Financial performance – exploiting the peaks and weathering the troughs, for example, preparing for a major acquisition.
  • Business transformation – augmenting expertise during periods of significant change, for example, digital transformation.
  • Critical projects – leading projects where there is no in-house expertise, for example, responding to an FDA warning letter.
  • Political impasses – hiring independent experts who can make an unbiased assessment, for example, post-merger restructuring.
  • Impromptu exits – limiting the impact of a departing post holder until a replacement is sought, for example, a departing VP of Quality.

Gone are the days when interim managers were considered jobless executives struggling to find employment. Interim managers chose this career path because it provides challenge and reward in abundance. They are typically Pi-shaped professionals with a wealth of management experience, but mastery of several core areas. They frequently possess the following leadership qualities:

  • Decisive. Catalysts of change, they immerse themselves within a companies operations and culture with little onboarding.
  • Experts. Operating at senior level, they are accustomed to leading organisations or functions through challenging periods.
  • Neutral. Unswayed by company politics, they so are able to access and address situations from an unbiased perspective.
  • Doers. With a strong track record of success and ‘can-do’ attitude, they get to the heart of the problem quickly.
  • Flexible. Available at short notice, they focus on providing significant value within agreed timeframes.

According to the Interim Management Association, increasing numbers of business leaders are seeing interim managers as a more cost-effective solution than a management consultant.

How does interim management differ from management consultancy?

In many respects, interim management and management consultants are alike. They are both appointed to identify and troubleshoot problems, offer guidance and recommend actions. However, while a management consultant works as consultants, an interim manager takes on full line manager responsibility and plans, executes and delivers the very solutions they advise.

Interim ManagerManagement Consultant
ExpertisePi-shaped professional and
expert in the discipline required
T-shaped professional and
expert in the discipline required
InvolvementAdvises, executes and deliversAdvises only
MotivationDelivering value effectively and
efficiently to further credentials
Upselling services and extending
timeline to further agency credentials
AccountabilityReports directlyReports to third-party
DeliverablesAssignment delivery, reports
and supporting documentation
Reports and supporting documentation

RELATED: Increase quality-of-hire by partnering with a reputable boutique executive search firm

Find out more


How long does an interim appointment typically last?

Interim appointments typically last from 3 to 18 months, with 3 to 9 months being typical. However, depending on the nature of the assignment, some interim appointments can last much longer. Once you have appointed an interim manager, it is considered good practice to arrange monthly, quarterly or semiannual meetings to access progress and extend the contract if necessary.

It is also worth noting that interim managers operate as limited companies, meaning they have no employment rights, no termination bonuses or service payments when their contract ends.

How do you hire an interim manager? 

Finding the right interim manager for your business needs is critical. To ensure you can effectively identify and qualify the right calibre of individual, it is crucial that you build a business case with clear objectives and deliverables. Not only will this aid you in achieving sign off from key stakeholders, but it will help you determine the experience, skills and competencies essential for success.

Once you have built a business case and won over key stakeholders, it’s time to recruit your interim manager. You have three options available to you:

  1. Using an interim service provider.
  2. Contacting previously used interims.
  3. Networking and sourcing via LinkedIn.

Which option you choose will depend upon the urgency, budget and the expertise of your Talent Acquisition (TA) or Human Resource (HR) function. However, if time is of the essence or you lack the necessary expertise or resources to deliver the search in-house, then an interim service provider might be your best option. They have access to vetted communities of interim managers, offer assurances over their technical and cultural fit and can rapidly deliver a shortlist of qualified candidates for your consideration. There are three types of interim service providers:

  1. Specialist interim service providers.
  2. Executive search firms or recruiters with dedicated interim management practices.
  3. Consultancies with interim management associates.

Whichever type of interim service provider you choose, ensure they understand the business case and have access to talent with the necessary skills and expertise needed to deliver.

How do interim service providers get paid?

Typically, a percentage of the daily fee is charged by the interim service provider, usually 25 to 33 per cent. An interim manager’s daily fee is dependent upon their seniority and expertise, but typically ranges from £500 to £2000 per day. While this might appear exorbitant, it should be noted that you only pay interim managers for the days they work, not sick days, holidays etc.

Some recruitment firms operate a different payment model, effectively charging an induction fee and expecting the client to negotiate key terms. Although the more economical option in terms of fees, you are effectively paying for access to the recruitment firms’ database; you will have to assign the necessary resources to qualify and negotiate with the successful applicant.

For more hiring advice tailored to hiring managers in the life science industry…

* Fraser Dove International is a specialist executive search firm operating exclusively in the Life Science industry. Passionate about people, we take pride in helping exceptional life science organisations source the talent they need to design, manufacture and distribute life-changing drugs, treatments and devices which transform and save patient lives.

For more information on how Fraser Dove International can help you find the very best life science talent, view our executive search solutions, upload a job specification or get in touch.

Got a question?

Get in touch

Our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) contain answers to the most common questions our clients and candidates ask our consultants about executive search. Should you have any specific questions that we have not yet answered, please contact us using the form below or call us on +44 (0)203 355 7050. We endeavour to respond to all enquiries within 1 business day.