The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

Brexit, Trump, Leicester winning the Premier league, the passing of musical geniuses – the list goes on.  Let’s face it, we have had everything thrown at us in 2016 but there’s one thing that remains certain and that’s change.    We are living in uncertain times and this will inevitably affect the decisions of organisations and their appetite to forge ahead with plans.  This uncertainty is creating the need for change on the one hand but paradoxically is leading to inaction on the other due to an over cautious approach.   It would be a huge mistake for organisations to do nothing with the risk of  market share loss, acquisition targets slipping through the net and losing key talent to name but a few.   

Leaving the EU is a mammoth task.   The globalisation of the UK is firmly on the agenda and although it will take years to go through this messy divorce, hopefully the UK will be stronger for it.  But what happens in the meantime?   It’s the uncertainty that will create problems as ‘projects’ are put on hold.  Clearly for businesses in crisis, something has to be done urgently but the need for an interim isn’t always for reasons of crisis management.   

Organisations in need of transformation, restructuring, project / programme management, business improvement or anything that results in change continue to need people to help drive them forward without distraction.  What has become prevalent  is the need to put a compelling case forward firstly as to why interim is the right/best solution and then it’s down to the interim to provide reassurance and a convincing pitch as to why they should be selected with some quantification around the return on investment (ROI). 

It matters now more than ever to make a difference but how can an interim executive ensure they make a ‘real’ difference and deliver in a way that meets with expectations? There are a number of skills, competencies and personality traits needed to succeed as an interim.  Here are a few;

Honesty – providing an open and honest account of the findings.  Interims are able to do this (on the proviso it’s delivered in a professional way) without fear of job security, weakening promotion prospects etc.  The value to management, shareholders, stakeholders and employees is immeasurable. Quite often the day to day gets in the way and organisations can’t see the wood for the trees.

Delivery – hugely important and ultimately will be the basis of measurement of how successful the assignment has been.

Speed – expect to be parachuted in to new environments, grasp what the business does, build relationships often with customers, suppliers, and subcontractors and address the issues causing the challenges.  The problem should be solved and solution implemented as quickly as possible.

Objectivity – an impartial view of analysis undertaken provides the leadership team with a balanced, honest opinion without the person delivering the message having another agenda. 

Coaching / Mentoring - this is always part of the brief whether or not it’s been clearly defined.  This can be for members of the leadership team, management team or just generally a style that should be adopted when leading people for the short term.

Engaging with stakeholders – interims often find themselves in quite complex scenarios with multiple stakeholders that have to be taken on the journey.  Building relationships is part of the remit.

Communication – can’t be emphasised enough.  Any change programme’s success is dependant on how engaged the people are. 

Don’t get drawn in to BAU issues – the reason the client has engaged an interim in the first place is because they don’t have the internal capacity or capability to solve the problem.   If the interim finds themselves in a firefighting situation, they are likely to take their eye off the ball from the original set of objectives.

Confidence and gravitas – the fact that someone has embarked on a career as an interim is borne from having achieved and delivered during a corporate career at board, functional or in a business leadership capacity.  This knowledge and experience should enable the interim to tackle challenges with the necessary agility and be chameleon like in approach.  

Managing the exit – once the agreed objectives have been delivered it’s important to manage an exit at the appropriate time.  The interim should avoid hanging around unnecessarily as this will quickly diminish the value created from the good work undertaken. 

Leaving a legacy – be remembered for the right reasons.

This is all underpinned by the raison d'être of adding value, making a difference and ensuring a return on investment.   It’s the little wins that can make the biggest difference and mopping up the unexpected problems where the interim can go the extra mile.

In order to ensure a successful assignment for all parties it’s important to be honest and how this is delivered will determine the added value in the long term.  After all, the results of this assignment will determine the reference received and how quickly the next one is secured.

For further information or a confidential discussion about how we can help please contact Steven Wynne on 01423 704153 or email steven.wynne@macallaminterim.com


News posted: 07/03/2017 by Steven Wynne, Macallam Interim Management