Talent [R]evolution

Insights into how an effective interim manager operates

Reading Time: 5 minutes

A management shakeup can be a seismic event for any organisation. It can signal a major shift in company culture, objectives, and operations, never mind the trigger for a lengthy recruitment process. Meanwhile, the proverbial ship can’t be without its captain, so securing a competent, agile interim manager is essential.

Finding these individuals can be tricky; how do you ensure they have the relevant experience, availability, and can-do attitude to take the helm at short notice? This is why freelancing is transforming the way companies source executive interim management. High-level freelancers are, by nature, adaptable and available – that’s why they choose to operate the way they do and why they’re so well-adapted to interim roles.

To illustrate this point, we have prepared this case study about how Outviser Jan F. Kluge was drafted in as the interim Chief Commercial Officer for a major mobile operator. After the abrupt exit of two members of the C-suite, the landscape was tricky to navigate. In spite of this environment, Jan created a plan to drive the organisation forward ahead of the arrival of the new CCO. Let’s take a closer look.

Key challenges for the interim manager

After the exit of two key members of senior management, a major mobile operator needed to stabilise. The team was deeply affected by these concurrent departures and a deft hand was needed to recalibrate the organisation until the arrival of the new CCO. 

In order to ensure the organisation was immediately operational, the interim manager needed to prepare a budget, three-year business plan, and one-year marketing plan, and report internally to the executive committee. These actions needed to be thorough, effective and aligned with the organisation’s long-term objectives.

What’s more, it wasn’t only business as usual; alongside a major leadership shake-up, an aggressive new competitor was about to enter the market. The interim CCO had their work cut out.

The methodology and tools deployed

As someone with extensive experience in leadership in the telecom sector in sales, marketing and business unit management, Jan was brought in as interim CCO. Jan began by acquainting himself with the team. As an interim manager as opposed to an acting manager, this phase is crucial; but what is the difference between acting manager and interim manager?

An acting manager is someone already at the company working out of title, who’ll step down once the new manager arrives. In contrast, an interim manager will fill the role temporarily until a replacement is found. As they’ll often be external, they’ll need to get to know the team; however, the advantage is they’ll usually bring experience someone working out of title can’t provide.

Jan cultivated these essential relationships swiftly. He was with the team all the time, immediately implementing an open door policy where he was available for discussions and queries, no matter how big or small. This enabled him to better understand the context, propose solutions, and gain approval in order to action his plans.

The key objectives through this get-to-know-you stage were:

  1. Understand the way the team operates
  2. Elaborate the budget and three-year plan to understand their forecasting models
  3. Discuss, understand, and approve the assumptions and key drivers.

For Jan, it was all about having an open mind. In his words, 

“Be prepared not to be prepared, know that you don’t know, so be flexible, listen and be open-minded.”

In parallel to the operational activities, Jan was able to devise an action plan for the arrival of a new entrant to the local market. He likes to think of this action plan as a war game; it’s all about anticipating the adversary’s actions, devising a counter strategy and preparing tactical actions.

His war game method comprised five key phases:

  1. Define different arrival scenarios for the new entrant.
  2. Draft response scenarios.
  3. Check the feasibility of each response scenario: understand the resources. needed, the obstacles that may exist and anticipate their overcoming, and understand how much time is needed to launch each response scenario.
  4. Evaluate the impact of each response scenario in a business case and its impact on the initial budget.
  5. Present the scenarios to top management and to the group stakeholders and get approval.

To steer the activities of his direct reports and teams and stabilise the working environment, Jan maintained the constant contact model implemented on his arrival. Regular meetings were established, including daily stand-ups and weekly team meetings. Meanwhile, the reporting document for the executive committee was standardised and approved by top management. Responsibilities and processes for the weekly EXCOM report were clearly defined so the executive committee were provided with clear, measurable KPIs in a timely manner.

The results and outcomes achieved

The implementation of this new governance system enabled the diagnosis of existing processes in order to propose new organisational scenarios. It also provided a platform to, perhaps most importantly, create a plan for the arrival of a new CCO. This thorough analysis generated a series of scenarios and responses, readying the organisation for a range of possible outcomes in the wake of her arrival.

Interim manager is involved in all day-to-day operations

In addition to the organisational scenario paper and the market and competitive scenario outlook, the arrival of the new CCO was supported by the preparation of a comprehensive welcome pack. This included all useful information harvested during the transitionary period, including relevant contacts, reports, dashboards and forecasts (budget, three-year plan and one year marketing plan) etc. 

The welcome pack also included complete information about how the new CCO can manage and uphold these improved systems. This was headlined with the basics, including where reports and dashboards are, what they show, when they are produced and by whom. It also included a more in-depth explanation of actions in progress and how they’ll go forward.

The interim manager was involved in the transition until the very last minute, to ensure smooth day-to-day operations and full support for the new CCO. With these tools, Jan’s leadership, and a clear-headed approach to organisation, ensured a seamless transition.

How do I find an interim CCO?

No matter the sector, an interim manager will face significant challenges. They have to get to know an organisation, its situation and ambitions in a very short timeframe. They have to apply their experience to streamline and improve processes while keeping these optimisations within achievable parameters. This, in turn, sets the stage for their successor, which they have to support in every way they can.

So where can organisations find these unique profiles with the speed and efficiency they need? To source a freelance interim manager that’s right for your business, look no further than Outvise. The network comprises over 35,000 fully vetted professionals located all over the globe with a range of skills and specialisms. With the help of our unique project-matching search engine and our expert team, we can match you with a selection of suitable candidates in less than 48 hours.

Plus, with our specialised unit for consulting firms and telecoms companies, businesses needn’t look further for the industry-specific expertise they require. Click here to find out more about what we offer.

Result driven managing director : business developper and marketing expert, at his ease in hyper competitive markets, quick understanding of the business impacts of the underlying technologies, attracted by international relationships and multicultural management.

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