In our Guide to Interim Talent, we look at the reasons why a business may use interim talent and the benefits in doing so, and we also consider the drawbacks and the instances when interims really won’t work. Plus, we explore the relationship between the client (business), the interim provider and the interim, and look at how we expect this market to evolve over the coming years.
Here we share Part 6: When an interim might not be the solution
In our opinion, most BAU activity is best handled by permanent employees – existing or new (though, not many roles are BAU anymore!). Bringing in an independent expert to ‘turn the handle’ leading core operational work is, in most cases, counterproductive – there are more cost-effective solutions, and you won’t be fully utilising the ‘change’ skills of the interim.
There are, of course, a few instances in which you need interim cover for a permanent employee’s BAU role, such as over the period it takes to make a permanent appointment or to cover longer-term absence, like maternity leave. We’d argue that even in these cases, you should aim first to cover with existing employees, and if you do go to the external market, ensure you engage the interim in for a good block of time – with hand-overs either end, where possible – and with a very clear remit and deliverables.
For the avoidance of doubt, here, we are talking primarily about leadership and/or senior specialist roles. There are many cases and industries where staffing-up BAU activity on a temp basis is the norm and a perfectly good solution, but this sits outside of the core subject of this document.
Appointing an interim whilst searching for a permanent hire should be handled very carefully as it is a difficult one to get right. We’d highly recommend seeking professional advice in this instance and working closely with your search firm for a few reasons.
Firstly, assuming it’s a leadership role, continuity is very important for the team members affected. Secondly, you should work to ensure that your permanent brief is valid – you could easily end up with an ‘interim’ for 2-3 years if what you’re asking for or offering on a permanent basis doesn’t correspond with the market. If it’s taking a long time to recruit, you should reassess the problem you’re trying to solve.
and of course not all activity needs an interim
There are many instances where a project or programme requires a deep and intimate knowledge of your specific business – people, process, technology, and politics! Whilst a good interim will be up to speed quickly, it’s good to be pragmatic here, and an existing, permanent employee is likely to be the best solution. We’d encourage you to always think through the real problem you’re aiming to solve and consider 2 or 3 ways to solve it, before deciding on interim/external or existing staff.