How to deliver Change – Your Team, Interim Manager or Consultant?

“Successful industry is about change – if it isn’t changing it is dying” (Sir John Harvey Jones)

Delivering change, an Overview: using Internal Management vs. Interim Management vs. Consultants

  There is significant waste in resourcing a management gap with temporary or contract resource as when the individual leaves so does the learning. Gap management therefore tends to be purely an incremental cost. This is not interim management. Good interim managers transfer capability retaining an investment by leaving a revived capable legacy. What matters is the way in which and terms external parties interact with client organisations.

“Are your management team willing to admit there are issues they can’t fix? Are they really interested in engaging with a professional interim manager to support them in making it happen? Or are they more comfortable to cherry pick at an arms length from a consultant’s selection of intellectual candy?”

 Interim Management – a definition

Interim managers are given the objective to manage change, alongside the day-day business, then exit.

In the first few days, the interim will evaluate the people capability, identify the key players and develop a hypothetical view of the issues and the necessary changes to move the business forwards. Having identified the main players the interim will agree objectives with the client owner, set their team stretch objectives, and work through and coach their team to establish the management controls, accountability and organisational and reporting structure to better manage the day-day business as well as progress the core change program.

During this time the interim can develop and hone the way forwards based upon the reality check provided by issues arising from the day-day issues. The combination of the day-day responsibility and leading the change strategy provides the interim with the differentiating unique position to firm up the strategy as the scenario unfolds, and the team capability develops.

Furthermore there is no political threat; the professional executive interim manager will have no professional interest in remaining in the organisation; simply delivering the program and developing the incumbent team to the point the interim can exit. If the interim is replacing a departed executive, let they key client team players know and include their coaching objective in the interim manager’s brief.



Consultancy or Advisory terms of engagement are quite different; they often form external subject matter expert teams that engage with client teams intermittently. By the very nature of the fact they have no day-day responsibility they miss the opportunity to establish or develop their credibility through progressive incremental improvement of the current business scenario and very often become more distant and therefore inadequately positioned to manage the client team expectations. As they sit outside the operational team their proposals often inevitably become “management intellectual candy”.

Using your own Internal Management Resource

Increasing shareholder value in today’s global customer and supply markets presents significant resourcing challenges. In a recent survey 54% of UK Plcs suggested they don’t have sufficient talent at senior management level, and only 21% have talent development programs. This gap is often filled by the high risk external recruitment of permanent staff.


The skills required to line manage a business and align a business are very different. Recruiting a change manager into a permanent role can be a mistake. Conversely a capable line manager can fail when faced with new and immediate challenges, which require a different aptitude and skill set.

Summary Delivering Change – Your team, Interim Manager or consultant?

A Professional Executive interim Manager combines the analytical capability of a consultant, the kudos that comes from their varied depth and breadth of experience, and the pragmatism that comes with knowing what the team and supporting business processes are capable of. They are in a unique position to do this by sifting vast quantities of day-day operational information by being very close to and responsible for the day to day issues, and in parallel leading the delivery of the change objectives through the team.

An assignment using an interim will therefore be more likely to deliver effective, lasting, aligned embedded change, will get done quicker and more closely aligned with what the business team is capable of owning and taking forwards.

Furthermore the interims personal and professional motivation to give the client best value is driven by simply getting the job done to get onto their next challenge as fast as they can. This ensures best client value and supports the joint Interim Management / client KPI sharing reward for early completion of an assignment. The interim assignment that is protracted or lasts for years, whilst it may be a nice to have for an interim service provider, is therefore a misnomer, whereas the “sell on” is often the business objective with an advisory or consulting engagement.

To succeed with an interim management assignment the client should agree “the deliverables” and delegate the responsibility and “the how” to the interim to get the job done. Delegation is as central to the success of interim management as delegation is to management coaching, as coaching is central to developing team capability, as team capability is to completing an interim assignment. The incumbent MD should focus on setting out the objective and provide the space, support guidance and framework for the interim to get the job done.

If the incumbent MD has an issue being able to delegate the approach and drifts to a more “hands on” or micromanagement style sound caution—the interim or any other business change program is unlikely to succeed.

Executive Interim management is a misunderstood, untapped strategic investment in a business that should deliver an enduring 10-20 fold return on investment. The legacy left is the difference between a cost and an investment achieved through the retained value