Successful Interim Assignments Start with a Strong Brief

Developing a brief is often overlooked in the search for an interim manager, but making time for that crucial first step is key to success. Here’s how to do it without losing any speed.

Stage 1 – Determine needs

The first step is for the client to understand why the interim is needed. Sounds obvious, but it can be easy to lose sight of the end goal if it is not clear from the start. First think about what needs to be achieved, then consider how feasible and realistic that is. The result should form the basis of the assignment’s key objectives.

It is also important to have the support of senior management and the board. Without it, you risk conflicting ideas dictating the direction of the assignment. Ensure all key stakeholders agree on the brief from the outset.

Lastly, save traditional job descriptions and person specifications for permanant roles. These are useful for long term positions, in which tasks and responsibilities can evolve over time, but interim roles are more specific. A good interim brief should be treated like a project plan, with a defined aim, timescale and purpose.

Stage 2 – Engage the provider

The next step is for the client to pass the brief to the interim management provider. This should be relatively straight-forward if the brief is well-understood prior to the initial discussion. That said, if there are any points that lack clarity or need firming up, a quality provider will be able to give advice and support.

An in-depth conversation over the phone, if not face-to-face, is essential to ensure all of the key details are communicated. The provider should ask questions, take notes and ideally send a summary of the brief shortly after the conversation. This is the time to iron out any inconsistencies – before the search begins.

The dialogue between client and provider should be ongoing throughout the search process. A good provider won’t want to waste your time with ill-fitting candidates, but if they do present someone who isn’t right, give constructive feedback. This will allow them to fine-tune their search to best match your needs.

Step 3 – Draft in the interim

It is up to the provider to pass the brief on to the candidate. At interview stage, candidates should demonstrate a thorough understanding of your key aims, and how they can meet them. Interim managers typically step down into roles – they have extensive experience and their sole mission is to deliver your assignment.

After you have hired an interim, it is important to invest time in onboarding them properly. Introduce them to key stakeholders, provide relevant background information and explain the company structure. This will give them the knowledge and connections to set about their task quickly and effectively.

In summary

If all of this seems contrary to finding a speedy solution, it needn’t be. When all parties move quickly and co-operatively, a successful placement can be made in good time.

A strong brief is the bones of a well-executed assignment. When all parties understand the objectives from the beginning, they are well on their way to delivering them effectively.