Top 10 Challenges for an Interim Manager

As an interim manager, you get the opportunity to put your mark on a company, but it does not come without challenges. As you probably know, our business consists of mediating Interim Managers. We always employ freelancers, a success formula that we have been using for decades. These people are experienced, motivated, independent professionals who can give the solution of your problem a strong move in the right direction in a short time… Here’s the top ten.

1. The next acquisition is just around the corner while you’re busy.

Interim Managers are always busy when they are on an assignment. This is inherent to the nature of interim work. Part of this busy nature includes short and long is assignments. This means that an interim manager, while busy with his assignment, has to think about acquiring a next assignment. This can be tricky, and explains why many interim workers prefer to work for four days a week.

2. You are always chasing your money

There are often difficult challenges for many businesses that bring on an interim manager. For best results, clients must book interim executives quickly. Difficult situations may occur when money is tight. Knowing that the freelancer is only a small “supplier”, as a result of which bookkeeping gives him little priority. It can be difficult to have a constant pipeline of work, especially when first starting out.

3. You’re always alone

Even if you work as an Interim Manager for a year, you usually remain that “outsider”, with all the advantages and disadvantages. We always try to keep communication going between the three parties: ourselves, client and interim manager.

4. Speaking of money

As an Interim Manager you have to fight against the prejudice that you are expensive. This happens because an invoice comes out with an amount which people think is your net salary. Unfortunately, the tax authorities and business risks do not appear. But it is very simple: an Interim Manager delivers more money than he costs (otherwise he has to leave very quickly!)

5. You won’t reap the benefits of your work

Poor Interim Manager: you worked so hard for months, the problem is solved and everything starts running, then you have to leave. Unfortunately there is no consolation. This is part of your job.

6. You always work below your level

Well, this is usually the case: as an interim manager you are used for something that you can already do. It is precisely the reason you are able to be deployed so quickly. As interims, we always serve as a sparring partner and part of that “high bill” is used for extra training.

7. Insecurity

One moment you’re busy and the next you’re staring at your phone because nobody is calling you. The idea of a vacation is on your mind but doing so means you may miss out on something. When you do go on vacation you may receive an opportunity. Suddenly you’re on a flight back because refusing the next job is not feasible.

8. A vague focus

As an interim manager you have to choose your market and specialty. Many of the so-called omnivores in the business may find that after a few years they are not being chosen because their “elevator pitch” is too vague. Many interims will find that if you choose your customers, a company will choose you!

9. Resistance and flexibility

Despite your strengths, result orientation, persuasiveness and shiny resume, you will always encounter resistance at new assignment. Sometimes this will present itself openly, other times it will be hidden. As an Interim Manager you will have to recognize and assess this very quickly. Flexibility in a new and temporary workplace will be essential. You will be a minority under a magnifying glass and a lot will be expected of you. Success for the interim manager is rooted in organization. You need to think of it in terms of, “his solution” becomes “our solution”.

10. Side tasks

Most Interim Managers do not like the busy work but it is part of the job. Responsibilities like simple administration, creating good job descriptions, planning, progress reporting, and documentation are all part of your process. Of course there’s always needing to be on point with your money, insurance and the tax office (there it is again).

So why on earth are you going to be an Interim Manager after reading this? It’s simple. If you long for anything in this list, you’ll understand. Do you want freedom and independence in your career? What qualifies as a great reward for your successes in these positions is that you get to work with a variety of business environments. You also end up working with a diverse group of people? Interim managers work for direct and fast results as opposed to sitting in long meetings.

These are the inherent rewards you find in being an interim manager. So find satisfaction and begin to plan a holiday the way you like it. As an interim manager, you get the opportunity to put your mark on a company, but it does not come without challenges.

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Gertjan van de Groep

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