4 Steps to Create Impact as an Interim Leader

Written by EO Executives on May 05, 2017


As an Interim Leader your ability to create impact is the key ingredient for both your success and the success of the organisations that hire you. After all, you’ve typically been engaged to implement change and turn the business around in a short amount of time, so you’ve got to hit the ground running. 

The first few days are the most crucial in any new interim assignment, whether it’s a transformation, change or a turnaround programme this your opportunity to outline goals, objectives and manage the expectations of the business.
This initial period is also a time when employee’s expectations need to be handled with care. When an Interim Executive turns up, employees know they are about to find themselves encountering a period of change, which can cause uncertainty and damage engagement if you get it wrong.

Emotions run high and often employees become protective over their roles, making it a challenge to get everyone on board with your agenda. Therefore, as an Interim professional it is key to be perceived as someone that has the businesses success at the forefront of their objects whilst you provide constructive support, enhance confidence and start delivering results at a rapid pace.

As Head of the Interim Practice at EO Executives, I have placed some of the industry’s top interim experts into the world’s leading organisations. I have seen first-hand the key objectives interims need to set to be successful in their assignments and make a quick impact so wanted to share some insights with you today.

Let’s break it down…

1. Identify the blockers – You must make it a priority to understand and engage with employees, suppliers and internal stakeholders and identify the bottlenecks in the operations.

Analyse what currently is and isn’t working. What is causing the business pain and how can this pain be diminished? It is fundamental to be constructive and outcome focused. If something isn’t working you need to assess why and how this can be resolved – in essence crunch the data and do a lot of listening!

In the early stages, offering new solutions can sometimes be difficult for people to comprehend because change is frightening… it’s not the norm and people don’t like change. Nonetheless, as an interim you need to identify the pain points and outline the solutions for moving forward in a way that feels positive and based on fact.

If you can do that, you’re already winning.

2. Identify the Influencers – This is when your stakeholder management skills come into play.

You need to work out quickly: Who are the key leaders in the business and what individuals can influence the rest of the business?

Partnering with these individuals to promote the change/ transformation/ turnaround project will make it easier for others to accept and make the assignment a success. These influencers are likely to work in different departments and teams, which is beneficial for getting buy in from other areas of the business.

You need to create advocacy and project champions, they will be great at encouraging others to do the same and to push the agenda forward.

3. Pinpoint low hanging fruit – Identify the areas that are causing the business pain but can be easily improved. This will be a quick win for both parties.

Quick wins that show a positive outcome will help ease any initial pressure and build credibility fast.

If these wins prove to be constructive, show great return on investment and remove pain, you are absolutely set up for success on the larger projects and able to self-fund your involvement through efficiencies.

Remember, there will be greater and more complex challenges ahead and when it comes to implementing strategies to overcome these larger barriers, people will be more open to listening and adopting new processes if they have seen your success before.

Once you have a reputation for delivery you will start to see a shift whereby key stakeholders proactively approach you for advice and involvement.

4. Set objectives and milestones – Ensure that both yourself and the rest of the organisation commit to deadlines and have absolute clarity on deliverables.

Setting deadlines and being strategically outcome focused is paramount for measuring progress and tracking milestones in the assignment. Therefore, it is important that everyone understands their role in the process and is accountable for the objectives that have been set.

To keep on top of this be sure to review each stage, analyse what is working and what needs to be done to move forward. Try to set new goals at each stage, ensuring that you stay on track for completion. As a leader, if you take accountability others will follow in your steps.

Implementing time frames is also important for ensuring deadlines are met on time and on budget and are key to providing visibility of when things are going to be completed. This also provides structure to a project and will encourage others to be outcome focused and work to deadlines that have been set.

The more support you provide and the more listening you do in the early stages of the project, the more flexibility you have to strategically address key pain points as a team. Setting a 90-day plan is a great way to achieve this because it gives the organisation a plan to follow.

Remember, regular communication is crucial for alignment and moving the project forwards. As an interim manager, you need to be transparent, open to communication and clearly understood through every stage.

If you would like to discuss this further or are looking for an Interim Manager or Transformation Team to implement change into your business, feel free to get in touch directly for a confidential discuss: craig.saxby@eoexecutives.com

We would be keen to hear your thoughts, so please comment below with your comments!

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