Was it good enough? The difference between hiring an interim company and doing it yourself.

Imagine the following scenario 

One of the members of the management team must go on parental leave and will be away from work for six months. Recruiting a substitute for the role is too resource-intensive given the relatively short period the employee will be away. However, you need to ensure that the work tasks are handled and that the business continues to run smoothly as usual until your colleague returns. You are therefore now at a crossroads where the most common options are the following: 

  • Another person in the management team takes on the duties of the colleague on parental leave in addition to their own 
  • One person in the colleague's team on parental leave may advance and act as deputy in the role 
  • You become aware that a person you, or someone else in the organisation, is familiar with, and who possesses the knowledge you need, is available and you bring him or her in as an interim consultant 

Does the above scenario sound familiar? Then you are not alone. Many of the customers we talk to have been at the same crossroads and chosen one or more of the options. Sometimes it turns out great, but often the lesson is that: 

  • The work tasks that the colleague took on in addition to his/her own were carried out half as well. And also affected his/her performance in their own role. 
  • The competence or experience of the person in the team who is allowed to advance to become deputy is not enough. In the long run, this can also lead to this employee choosing to quit and look for new challenges when the colleague on parental leave returns. This is because they no longer feels satisfied with his original role, and may feel that they have had to take a step down in the organisation. 
  • The mission itself is carried out, but not with the best possible outcome. The person in question, who was both available and had previous experience of similar assignments, was given the role for networking reasons. Not because they were the best suited to carry out the mission. 

The degree of satisfaction after an interim appointment 

Through international industry colleagues, we have taken part in a study which found that organisations that used an interim company are more satisfied than those that used other alternatives to appoint an interim manager ( Interim Leadership Success Study, Helmut-Schmidt-Universität , 2015)

The study asked 249 companies about their experiences of appointing an interim manager and how satisfied they were with the appointment. What is striking in the study is the method the companies, which were either satisfied or dissatisfied, used to appoint their interim managers. The satisfied companies have used an interim company in 78% of the cases. Conversely, 75% of those who are dissatisfied with the result have handled the recruitment themselves. 

One of the conclusions of the report is that a professional interim firm contributes value to the interim appointment with its process structure and experience in identifying, evaluating and matching the most relevant candidates for the assignment. This is difficult to match for a company's own organisation, as the appointment of interim managers is relatively rare. 

Björn Ulfberg





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