Interim managers could help firms survive the slump

One solution for small businesses is to hire interim managers – senior
level executives who can be brought into troubleshoot, handle major
projects, fill in gaps left by permanent staff or deal with major
business challenges, such as change management or organisational

These seasoned and experienced executives have been there before and
know how to get companies through tough times. They are men and women
with solid track records of working at a senior level in major
companies, or, they may have sold their own successful business and now
prefer handling short engagements of weeks or months rather than a
permanent role.

Costing as little as a third of a management consultant’s fee and less
expensive than hiring a senior level full time employee, the use of
interim managers in UK businesses has risen steadily over the past few
years. The industry is now worth between £750m and £1bn. And, contrary
to some views, Interims are not only the preserve of large companies.

They are often more suited to, and can make a lasting impact on, a
small business. They have the skills and experience often missing in a
small organisation and can deliver projects quickly and efficiently
often bringing a totally fresh perspective. A good interim manager will
always transfer their skills and knowledge to internal staff in order
to create lasting value, even if it makes them redundant in the process.

In October, we surveyed our database of 10,000 interim managers to
gauge how the downturn was impacting them. Many talked of increased
competition for jobs as a result of more interims coming into the
market and companies putting plans on hold. One of the main coping
strategies they highlighted was the willingness to be more flexible
about daily rates, which means that small business will be able to hire
interims more cost effectively than ever before.

But, more important than the financial considerations is the fact that
interims can really add value to small businesses in difficult times.

They can deliver highly strategic projects, improve financial
management and cash flow or provide senior level marketing or
communications expertise that could help build a brand or strengthen a
sales pipeline when it is needed most.

Also, interim managers truly understand what small businesses need because they see themselves as small businesses.

Self-promotion/marketing and a portfolio of prior assignments
successfully completed are the basis for winning new projects and a way
of life for interims. So contrary to popular belief, an interim manager
is ideally suited to a small business environment and could deliver the
expertise needed to help companies through the downturn.

By Charles Russam
Chairman, Russam GMS