HR Resources Database

HR Resources Database November 2010

Short -term Commitment – Long-term Benefits

Jane Matthews


Businesses today generally run leaner at a management level, with constant demands for the skills necessary to adapt to market shifts. A seasoned executive in place over the short term can help them navigate organizational change, address issues and challenges, fill a gap created by a retiring or absent executive, or provide senior-level expertise to lead major projects and initiatives that are key to maintaining a competitive advantage.

The demand for interim executives is expected to grow even more, as demographic trends show one-third of today’s workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2015. As well, according to Statistics Canada, the generation of workers who are now in the workforce and available to replace the boomers are 20 percent fewer in numbers.  Combine these demographics with the speed of change in business today, and the pressure on CEOs to pursue available, effective, and cost responsible solutions to achieving targets –you have an environment that puts interim executives at the forefront.

Think of the entrepreneurial company or growing organization that is experiencing rapid development and needs the strategic financial insights of a CFO but can’t justify a full time position. Instead of being at a disadvantage, they can hire a part-time CFO on a one-two day a week basis until full time is required. What about the large public sector or not-for-profit organization that has temporarily lost their head of HR due to an unexpected absence? Their business can move forward without disruption by hiring an interim executive that has the skills and experience to make a difference from day one. They are there for as long as needed. And what about the organization that has decided to launch a new initiative –do they have the leadership skills internally and the resource capacity to move the project from strategy to planning to execution –an executive brought in on a flexible basis with established objectives can ensure project success.

Interim executives have been there –they’ve walked in your shoes.  They do not require long briefing sessions or orientations. They know how to assimilate into different environments, quickly build key relationships with critical stakeholders, acquire knowledge on all aspects of the business, and make decisions. While achieving the objectives established for the assignment, they are also imparting their knowledge and experience, and imbedding best practices that will have a long term legacy –after they have left.

The interim management industry today has changed. There are a growing number of younger, more diverse executives that are choosing to pursue interim management as a career option.  As skilled executives who have a strong track record, interim executive work provides them with the change and challenge that they thrive on. It also allows them flexibility to control their work schedule, build on their professional development, and experience the rewards of satisfied clients. Whether choosing interim management as a career option, or as a second career following the sale of their business or early retirement, tapping in to this resource makes sound business sense.

Ensuring success, as with finding the right permanent executive team, involves a rigorous process of matching fit and talent. While it sounds onerous, it doesn’t need to be a lengthy process. Interim providers can tap into their well established networks of pre-qualified interim candidates –taking the risk out of chancing your luck on the open market.  They have the talent assessment skills and the reach to have the right interim executive in place within one to two weeks. No longer do businesses need to ask their network, “does someone know someone…?”

Interim management is developing into a top of mind business solution –as it is in the UK and Europe. Whether it’s public sector, private sector, or not-for-profit, in today’s fast-paced, competitive environment, one full time, permanent executive team will not be sufficient. What better solution, then augmenting that team, when needed, with mobile, flexible, temporary executives.

About the Author(s)

Jane Matthews is the President of Odgers Interim (a part of Odgers Berndtson). She can be reached at:


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