In a recent Q&A with the highly experienced and in demand HR Interim Dawn Wright, we uncovered what it is really like to operate as an interim, along with the skills, drive and mindset that an Interim brings. Dawn has not only been engaged on interim assignments but has first-hand experience in hiring interims to support change and transformation projects. If you are interested in finding out more, click here for the full interview.
In the second part of the blog series, Dawn shares her experiences and valuable tips around hiring; the challenges of establishing and measuring ROI (return on investment) and how to adapt to the changes that come with the emergence of the gig economy.
Dawn, what do you feel the difference is between hiring yourself as opposed to a traditional consultancy?
For me there are four big differences between bringing an interim into your organisation and engaging a management consultancy:
- The hiring business is the boss – you have hired an interim as an expert to deliver to your business objectives and they will recommend and implement strategies for you alone. Management consultants must also have an eye on their own employer’s objectives, bottom line and practices they advocate. This can really be summed up as an interim manager works for the company they are engaged with, while a management consultant works for their consultancy.
- Interim managers have done the job – interims don’t start their career as interims, they will have extensive experience from working across industries and through many different roles. It is this wealth of experience that adds value and delivers results. Whilst some management consultants will have broader experience, the majority build their professional experience from working within the consultancy.
- Interim managers are “managers” – embedded in a team (business or project) not only will an interim advise on the best course of action for your organisation, but they can also drive change or transformation forward through clear leadership and task management. Management consultants will advise your management team on the best way to deliver change, but will not lead the team through implementation.
- Interims transfer knowledge and build skills – leaving a legacy of knowledge and building skills is a key deliverable of an interim. Working alongside members of the team on a daily basis, using opportunities through the assignment to coach and train ensures that this happens. Management consultants are not embedded in the business in this way.
Both interims and management consultants have a part to play in business – but we have different roles. If a business has the skills and experience needed to implement and the requirement is to develop the upfront strategy and advise on direction, then the consultancy arrangement can work well.
A business should think about using an interim when they do not have the skills and / or experience in their current team - this skills gap could be for a number of reasons with the most common being that they haven’t delivered a particular piece of work within the business before.
What are the misconceptions businesses have around the ROI achieved when hiring an Interim HR expert?
The expectation of every interim is that they hit the ground running when they go into an assignment – we come armed with a toolkit having “been there and done that” and at the same time recognise that every organisation is different. What is important is that we deliver results that meet an organisations goals. This means that we don’t arrive with something ‘off the shelf’.
Yes, we bring experience and knowledge, which we combine with extremely strong stakeholder management skills and business analysis skills to ensure that we deliver something fit for purpose.
One thing I often hear as an interim is about the costs involved in bringing interims into the business “but it’s so expensive”. It’s then that I reflect on the standard response:
- we bring a breadth of knowledge and skills that you won’t find within the business,
- you don’t have to pay any costs that apply to employees i.e. training, pensions
- you only pay for the days that we work with no accountability for paying for holidays or sickness.
However more importantly, bringing an interim into the organisatioon is also a long-term investment in your own people, as leaving a legacy of knowledge and building skills is as important as the delivery of the objective itself. I personally believe that I should never be asked back to the same part of a business to deliver a similar piece of work – making sure that I leave the knowledge and skills behind to ensure that the team is self sufficient is one of my personal success measures.
With the emergence of the gig economy and portfolio careers, do you think that this will impact the way in which companies engage Interim's in the future?
HR functions must think much wider than their resourcing strategies to balance permanent and portfolio workers when planning for the future – the way that workers’ performance is measured and managed, how they are rewarded, how to support skills development and manage careers will also need to change. Overarching this is the need to think about the different leadership styles that will need to be in place and what this means for the culture of the organisation.
Whilst some interim assignments are part time, the majority are full time, requiring a physical presence in the business for a substantial part of the week. I think we will start to see a change in the ways that interims work, with more people balancing two or more interim assignments at the same time. This could give the organisation more flexibility in how they buy in skills and experience and manage their costs.
I have personally seen this begin to happen and see it as an exciting opportunity. It doesn’t mean that we are becoming managements consultants – the breadth of experience and leadership skills that we bring, together with the commitment to knowledge transfer and upskilling existing team members remains. My one concern would be that we interims will need to be tough on ourselves and not overcommit – balancing two or more full time jobs is not doable!
To connect with Dawn, please visit her LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawnwright2/
In the meantime, if you would like to discuss engaging Dawn or any challenges you have around hiring / working within the interim market please, comment below or get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org.