How to Hire an Interim Manufacturing Expert

Written by Adam Davies on Dec 04, 2017

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How to Hire an Interim Manufacturing Leader...

Working in the manufacturing space allows me to partner with some of the UK’s top interim talent. These industry experts have worked with key players within a variety of sectors such as Food & Beverage, Engineering, Packaging and Automotive to name a few. When hiring an Interim professional within the manufacturing space there are many factors that must be considered before the search commences.

Hiring an interim can be one of the most expensive hires that a company can make. However, as I have eluded to in my previous blog ('Hiring an Interim is Expensive...or Is It?') the ROI is far greater than the initial outlay. I am sure that if you are in the thought process that you need to hire an interim op manager then your business is going through a period of change/growth/transition. These can be very challenging times, so before going to market consider the following…

  • Have you exhausted all internal options?
  • What implications does an interim coming in have on the rest business?
  • What are the objectives will be set for the interim?
  • Are you sure you are ready to change?

Once you have carefully considered these key points, you’ll need to ensure the following:

Don’t get caught up in sector experience

A true interim manufacturing leader will have solved your particular issue on numerous occasions, and for different businesses across a number of different sectors previously. Whether you are looking at improving low overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) percentages, introducing new shift patterns, implementing lean methodology, cost reduction exercises or even a factory relocation. Many of the basic fundamentals and core skills are the same right across manufacturing, and a true top-level interim will be able to tailor their expertise to meet your business needs. 

I have seen many senior manufacturing leaders work across the likes of food & beverage, packaging and engineering business and deliver on their set objectives time and time again.

Separate them from the politics

Top level interim’s have already experienced corporate life, they do not want to be part of the internal politics. Separate them by supplying clear and concise objectives and authorisation to have the relative sign off on their specific business agenda.

Ask about results in numbers

During interview stage ask about previous achievements, get these achievements in numbers. Whether it be cost reduction, process improvement or growth or whatever the changes are that strikes a chord with you. Ask about previous results, where was X business at when you entered, where were they when you left? How did you achieve these results? They should be able to rattle off the answers, if there is any hesitancy they may not be right for you. Can they transfer your ideas from excel to profit and loss (P&L)?

Client testimonials

This goes without saying right? Gather testimonials from their previous interim assignments which outline exactly what they achieved within the set period. This will give you confidence that you are selecting the right interim to implement your business agenda. If the interim cannot provide testimonials for the select assignments that you ask for, it is a red flag. When obtaining testimonials, get a full 360 view, one from someone that has previous reported in to them, one from a pier and one from a previous hiring manager. This will provide you with a well-rounded view of how this interim will operate within your business.

Can they navigate the board room and the shop floor?

Generally, an interim will be hired to implement change and, so it is important that they can quickly build rapport with board level staff as well as your “shop floor” employees. Clearly during the interview phase, you will be able to work out as to whether you can work with them at board level but what can you do to see how they will interact with the rest of your staff?

One top tip that I give my clients when interviewing interim manufacturing leaders, is to give them a tour of the shop floor/manufacturing facility. This provides them with the perfect opportunity to engage with other staff on the shop floor and other members of staff that will be affected by changes. Watch how they interact with the staff, introduce them to the production team, and see if they ask questions. Do you feel confident that they can navigate the boardroom and the shop floor effectively? This is a great method for you to feel 100% confident in your decision.

Set CLEAR objectives

One of the key reasons why interim assignments fail is because the assignment objectives were not CLEARLY agreed at the beginning. Set and agree objectives, have the interim provide you with a 90-day plan and conduct regular reviews. Reviewing the objectives and being agile to amend and tweak where necessary will go a long way to ensuring that the placement is a successful experience for all parties.

What are your experiences of hiring an interim manager? We could be keen to hear from you, so please feel free to comment below.

Alternatively, if you would like a confidential discussion around how to hire your next Interim Manufacturing Leader, please get in touch directly at: adam.davies@eoexecutives.com

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