Interim Management: Does it Stack Up?

Posted in : HR Updates on 6 June 2018
Joanne McAuley
Clarendon Executive
Issues covered:

The interim management market is buoyant in the UK, with a plethora of well- qualified suitable candidates, however the picture couldn’t be more different when looking at Northern Ireland in isolation.

Below, Joanne McAuley from Clarendon Executive considers the scenarios in which an interim management solution might be employed, and assesses whether the return on investment adds up for local businesses.

The UK Institute of Interim Management describes interim managers and executives as, by and large, senior and mature individuals, operating at Board, or near-Board level, with an average age of 52. Interim managers are mostly men, with a steady but small lift in female representation in recent years. There are proportionately more interim managers in the private sector, but still a significant number operating in the public and third sectors.

It would seem that Northern Ireland’s dominant public sector might go some way towards explaining why we are home to less than 1% of the UK’s interim managers - there is certainly a supply and demand issue. That aside, as the private sector continues to flourish, it is perhaps time to reconsider and take a closer look at the value an interim manager can bring to businesses of any type in Northern Ireland.

When to use an Interim Manager

Interim management is the temporary supply of an individual with management expertise into an organisation. Hiring the services of an interim manager is often time pressured and involves some sort of change.

Such individuals will typically be experienced business leaders who are able to manage an organisation through a period of transformation such as a merger, acquisition or turnaround situation, provide stability to a business following the unexpected or sudden departure of a senior leader, or provide a highly specialised skill set which a business may not have internally.

An organisation may choose to pursue the interim management route because the role in question is not a permanent position or a permanent executive/manager cannot be found fast enough. They are typically hired for three to nine months and help organisations undergoing major change, trying to implement a critical programme or strategy, for example around GDPR, or to plug a critical management or leadership gap.

What are the benefits of using an Interim Manager?

The role of an interim manager is often misunderstood and is most effective when viewed as a solution rather than a resource. Some of the main advantages of an interim management solution include:

  • Hitting the ground running - Interim managers are available to start in days with minimum recruitment or termination formalities and, unlike a permanent employee who may be given several months grace to settle into their new role, an agile and dynamic interim will be able to hit the ground running
  •  Experience - Interim managers are typically overqualified for the role, meaning they can operate fully autonomously if necessary with little guidance
  • Results - Track record and performance really count - interim managers are used to being judged by results so they know how to deliver
  • Knowledge transfer - With a wealth of experience comes skill, contacts and knowledge that will be transferred to your team and remain long after they have left
  • Objectivity - Interims will tell you how it is not what they think you want to hear. Having no previous history with your business means they can look at the situation objectively and with clarity.
  • Delivery - They can act as counsel to the Board while rolling up their sleeves to help deliver the strategy too.

Is an Interim Manager Value for Money?

The idea of an interim manager being good value for money may surprise some, especially as at first glance they are not cheap.

Charge out rates vary according to experience and for a business trying, for example, to temporarily fill a £80,000 a year role, can look expensive.  However, what companies all too easily overlook is that a permanent employee on £80,000 a year is actually costing the business a lot more when you factor in bonuses, holiday pay, pension, employers’ national insurance contributions and car and health benefits, as well as any unplanned costs for sickness, jury service and training. In fact, experience shows us that the actual cost of direct employment can add around two-thirds on top of basic pay.

When engaging with an interim manager you are paying only for the skills and experience of the individual and can expect a real impact on your business almost immediately. Paying the right rate for the right individual can also mean that projects are delivered in shorter timeframes and more efficiently, thereby saving you money.

Growth Potential in NI

Coming from a low base in Northern Ireland, it’s clear that interim management holds huge growth potential as businesses here increasingly begin to recognise the benefits of seeking external help. At Clarendon Executive, we are certainly seeing an increase in demand for interim support in senior finance, technology and HR-related roles.

No matter your reason behind hiring an interim executive or interim manager the key to a good experience is being organised at the outset with a clear brief and having a sharp focus on outcomes and execution. Finally, it is key to have a partnership with the most suitable interim management recruiter or interim management agency operating at the right level and in the right industry for your role.

This article is correct at 06/06/2018

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Joanne McAuley
Clarendon Executive

The main content of this article was provided by Joanne McAuley. Contact telephone number is 028 9072 5750 or email

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