Found in Translation? The benefits of transition management

by | 5 Oct 2023 | Insights

As Vincent Vega, played by John Travolta, declared in the classic movie Pulp Fiction, it is the “little differences” in language and culture which can mean so much.  Famously he was describing the fact that the metric system meant there was no such thing as a ‘Quarter Pounder with Cheese’ at McDonald’s in Paris and told his partner in crime it was instead known as the “Royale With Cheese”.  

Having recently joined Valtus, headquartered in Paris and the largest provider of Executive Interim Managers in Europe, I am delighted to be working with brilliant colleagues in France, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and of course the UK where I am based. I am yet to discuss hamburgers with my esteemed colleagues but one of those “little differences” in language has piqued my interest.

In French, Executive Interim Managers are known as “Managers de Transition” and I have to say that this definition really speaks to me. Let me translate it for you.

Even though Executive Interim Management is a mature segment of the UK labour market it is not uncommon for its huge potential and clear value to be a new and little understood concept for business leaders; especially those whose first instinct has traditionally been to pick up the phone to Big Consulting to solve any problem they encounter.

I wonder if exploring the concept of transition management in business might provide a better framework to describe how engaging our network of highly skilled individuals can deliver genuine results in a wide range of market conditions?

Some examples of transition scenarios are: 

  • The transition from good to great: do your senior leaders have the bandwidth, strategic skillset and capability to supercharge your business and drive the transition to the next level of success? Can they execute transformation in addition to managing the status quo? Might engaging a specialist for a short period of time to focus on this transition, whilst your senior leaders run the business, be the accelerant you need?     
  • The classic turnaround transition: when your business is failing, do your senior leaders have the skills, experience and clarity of thought to execute the transition back to full health?  Failure is not an option so why not engage a specialist in transitions of this nature to fully own the project?
  • Meeting the challenge of an unplanned exit:  how do you transition back to full bench strength when one of your senior leaders leaves the business unexpectedly? The market and your competitors won’t pause for several months while you hire a permanent replacement. Why not consider a highly skilled executive, available immediately on an interim basis to manage this transition?
  • The transition to digital: this is not just about new tools, processes and enhanced cyber security but a complete reimagining of the operating model, the go to market strategy and the behaviours of the people in the business. Do your senior leaders have the vision, skills and capability to execute this critical transition successfully?  Why not engage the services of a digital specialist who has successfully delivered this type of transition numerous times before?
  • The transition to a higher interest rate environment: what does this fundamental shift in the economy mean for your business and its customers? Do you need to reconsider your funding and loan obligations? Do you need to strategically review your pricing and customer proposition? Why not consider a fresh perspective on this critical transition from a specialist?

Of course, there are many further examples of business transitions I could mention, but you will get the idea.   

It is far from a given that any business can successfully manage a transition whether it be macro or micro, planned or unexpected; it is most often the case that the correct skillset does not exist fully in the organisation with senior leaders focused primarily on running the core business.   

Engaging a highly skilled, senior executive on an interim basis as your transition manager can solve this issue.

What then are the key aspects of a successful transition manager?   

At Valtus we believe that it is the combination of practical, hands-on execution capability developed through extensive career experience and a strategic mindset which brings the best result. These transition scenarios require more than an ability to consult and provide ideas; they need someone who can actually fix the problem quickly and efficiently. An additional benefit of engaging a transition manager on an interim basis is that they will transfer their knowledge to your existing team, helping to future proof your execution capability in managing transitions.

It is also an entirely flexible solution: their skillset need only be focused on solving a particular transition issue and once the agreed objectives are achieved, the transition manager will roll off. You don’t need to consider their engagement in the way you would a permanent hire.

The unique Valtus methodology also ensures that the execution of the transition is governed and monitored by a Valtus Partner in conjunction with the client and the transition manager. This approach differentiates our offering from both contractor recruitment and management consulting and we believe provides the perfect solution for transition management.   

The ever-increasing complexity of today’s business environment means that having to manage transition is one of the few constants for boards and leadership teams. So, please think of Executive Interims as your Transition Managers and vive les petites différences! 

If you would like to discuss the transition scenarios your organisation is confronting or hear more about how Valtus has helped its clients to successfully manage their own transitions, please get in touch with me directly.