It has been interesting to watch two of the largest global Executive Search firms making their first serious moves into Interim Management, through the acquisition of well-respected market specialists in the US and Germany.
True, the SHREK firms have ‘played with’ Interim Management before, but these acquisitions are much more serious (and expensive) statements of intent. I see this as a highly positive market dynamic, and long overdue. Quite why one would diversify into mid-markets, outsourcing, outplacement et al before focusing on Interim Management is anyone’s guess. However, late comers to the party are still very welcome guests.
Less welcome has been the language used to describe the Interim Management offering that these firms have spent a lot of money to acquire. They have both been badged as central to a global ‘Talent-on-Demand’ strategy.
I must confess that some of my concern with this phrase comes from a natural aversion for the current excitement for adding-hyphens-where-they-are-completely-unnecessary. I will also confess to a little snobbishness about a phrase that brands what I do in a similar way that Deliveroo market pizza.
However, based on this phraseology, I do have a more serious concern as to whether these firms actually know what they have bought.
Interim Management is so much more than ‘Talent-on-Demand’.
Executive Search firms make their money by winning remits and, hopefully, delivering on them by sourcing senior executives. The best of them will also add a lot of robustness to the process, and offer value added services, but their success or failure ultimately comes down to whether they secure a high calibre hire. In this sense they are a recruitment company like any other; ‘Talent-on-Demand-but-quite-slowly’.
Interim Management isn’t like that. While there is an element that looks quite similar – the getting to know you phase is recruitment after all – the success or otherwise of the assignment can only be judged when the Interim Manager LEAVES the organisation, and not when they join.
Hence the true Interim Management providers focus at least as much care and attention on the management of the assignment after the manager has started, as they do on sourcing the right individual in the first place.
Our badges of honour are the businesses and careers we have helped save rather than the placements we have made, and the fees we have generated come from the satisfaction our Interim Managers provide on an ongoing and lasting basis, rather than a reflection of how skilled they are at interview.
‘Solutions on demand’? Maybe.
‘Talent-on-Demand’? Not so much.