The Real Value of Interim Executives

As an Interim Search Consultant, I think it is so important to take the time to talk my clients through a range of solutions to their talent and attraction challenges.

Sometimes the cost / benefit of an interim option isn’t obvious until you work it through.

Below are some points worth thinking about when you are considering the real impact of hiring an interim over waiting for a permanent campaign to complete.

There is no stronger message than a clear cut business case.


1. Interim Managers Provide Value for Money

This notion of an interim manager being good value for money may surprise many. After all, at first glance interim managers are not cheap. Charge-out rates vary but are typically £600 to £900 for a Director level exec up to £1,500 for a very senior executive.

For someone trying to temporarily fill a £90,000 a year role, this can look expensive. This is because they fail to realize the true way to value an interim manager’s contribution.

So how do you gauge the return on investment from an interim manager?

Companies first need to realise that a permanent employee on £90,000 per annum is actually costing the business a lot more. Once you have added in recruitment costs, bonuses, holiday pay, employers’ national insurance contributions, pension, health and company car benefits, the real employment costs are nearer £150,000 per year.

2. Interims Can Plug An Urgent Gap

You then need to factor in the advantages of quickly plugging that recruitment gap. In a typical recruitment scenario a company takes a month to find the right person. The executive being hired will then have to typically serve a three-month notice period. So it will be four months before the candidate is in place, and five months before you know whether they are really the right choice or not. If the decision has been a bad one, you start all over again.

A senior manager is, on average, worth at least three times their annual salary in terms of their contribution to a company. Looking at our example executive earning £90,000 per annum, if you take four months to find the right person, the delay has cost your business £90,000 in terms of lost contribution – and that’s excluding the recruitment fees which traditional agencies charge, and the unease and inertia which the recruitment delays have created.

3. Interims Hit The Ground Running

Speed of delivery is another consideration. Unlike a permanent employee who can have several months of grace while they settle in, get to know their way around an organisation, meet people and so forth, interim managers are recruited with a clear set of deliverables and a fixed, often incredibly short time scale in which to deliver. They know how to quickly fit in and get things moving.

They will not get sidetracked with office politics. They are implementers who know they will be judged on their ability to hit the ground running and deliver from day one. Depending the importance of the deliverables the value of this speed can be enormous. For instance, Interim Executives were able to assist the University of Cambridge by placing a Project Advisor into a £400m capital projects with urgent delivery timelines. Within a matter of weeks, they had a seasoned project executive on the project and delivering results.

4. Interims Offer Experience and Objectivity

You can add to the ROI considerations the interim executives’ value as an impartial sounding board. Remember, interims do not expect to have a long-term career with you, so they are not going to tell you what you want to hear – they will tell it how it is. Their candour could save you a fortune.

Also interim executives offer instant experience and a capability which is almost always one rank higher than the job requires.

Matthew Donovan – Interim Search Consultant

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