How do you know whether an interim executive will be the right fit for your company’s needs? Ultimately, that’s an individual decision that depends on your company. But generally, when we get a call from an executive, head of human resources, small business owner, or private equity investor, it’s because the organization is in motion. Leadership to drive growth, change, or turnaround is needed. And it’s needed fast.
Interim executives, by definition, come into difficult situations, assess them quickly, and create a plan for success. That means they have a front-row seat to the most common business mistakes companies make.
When we surveyed our RED Team interim leaders from around the world for insights into “The Big Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make,” we got an earful. While their responses varied, clear themes emerged in the areas of leadership, operations, human capital, strategy, business finances, and change initiatives.
Focusing on these fundamental business needs is a good starting point for any struggling business.
Scanning someone’s career history, what does it mean when you see the word acting in a title?
The language around interim executives, executives who specialize in growing, transforming and turning around companies can be tricky as executives in the specialty don’t always identify themselves with the same language. But in some cases acting can be another indicator that you have found an interim.
Consider your audience: is the executive being presented to the board of directors, the company at large, or to the general public?
When it comes to public companies, the language is precise and if an executive has temporarily stepped in while a permanent search takes place, they will be described as interim or acting.
Things get confusing because public companies often appoint board members to this interim or acting role who serve as more of a babysitter or placeholder. Beware that this is not the same thing as a career interim who can be identified by their career history taking on high-impact engagement after engagement, helping cause companies to grow or turn around.
The far larger use of interim executives is in private companies worldwide, whether for-profit or nonprofit.
These days, it’s easy to hire a temporary executive. Whether you want a fractional manager – someone who works part-time or on a project basis – or a full-time interim leader who can take the reins for a certain period of time, interim executive search increasingly is the go-to option.
But it can be a tricky business.
Sure, there are plenty of managers who are interested in becoming interim leaders. Chances are your HR team has interviewed more of them for vacant C-Suite positions this year than at any time in the past.
And chances are they are making some serious mistakes in interim executive search and hiring.
Here are the most common mistakes we see and how to fix them.
Every new year means new challenges and new opportunities. This new year, 2023 is no different! When we asked 204 C-level executives for their 2023 predictions, their responses reflected five clear business trends:
A surge in executive retirements and leadership departures
Millennials and Gen Z employees might get all the press for their “Great Resignation” but they aren’t the only ones who are leaving their jobs in droves. CEOs are too. The Great CEO Turnover, which peaked in 2021 and early 2022, has leveled off a bit. But it certainly doesn’t mean that your CEO is planning to stick around for the long haul.
Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas compiles a monthly report on the CEO turnover rate. The July 2022 report shows that CEO changes at U.S. companies fell to 58 in July, down 45% from the 106 CEO exits recorded in June. It was the lowest monthly total since the early pandemic departures of April 2020.
However, departing CEOs are hardly a thing of the past.
When Deloitte and independent research firm Workplace Intelligence surveyed 2,100 employees and C-level executives in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, they found that an eye-popping 70% of top management are seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being. And 81% of the top execs say that improving their well-being is more important than advancing their career.
For years, companies have used SaaS – Software-as-a-Service – to solve their technology problems. No more buying expensive software. No more hiring experienced managers to oversee its installation. No more worrying about updates. It’s all handled by the pros and the service lives in the cloud, ready for your people to access the minute the need arises.
Now, companies are discovering that EaaS – Executives-as-a-Service – can just as easily solve their c-level executive challenges.
What is Executive-as-a-Service?
Like SaaS, which is subscription-based on-demand access to digitals tools, EaaS is on-demand access to executive leadership, whether you need the skills of a chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief operating officer, chief technology officer, or any other type of “chief.”
EaaS allows you to pay only for the c-level expertise you need and only for as long as you need it. No pricey executive search fees. No hiring bonuses No long-term contracts. No human resources expenses. As a cost-effective alternative to onboarding any type of full-time chief executive, the EaaS model means that even small businesses can afford experienced, effective leadership.
Executive-as-a-Service leaders are interim or fractionalexecutives with a wealth of experience managing companies through big challenges such as rapid growth or decline, mergers or acquisitions, new market demands, and dried up funding.
It seems like every business owner dreams of achieving major traction in the marketplace. That fast track growth, however, often comes at a cost. Things get taped together. There’s no process to speak of. Systems? Ha. Things go missing, including clients and team members. Lack of resources means that even the crown jewel, the company’s ability to out-innovate, may be put on hold just to keep up.
When a company grows faster than the capabilities of the leadership team, the end result is often a splat: the company hits the wall.
Smart fast-growing companies have started looking to part-time or fractional executives to provide c-suite leadership, mentorship, and the operational upgrades needed to help a company break through the ceiling to growth.
Fractional executives bring the fresh perspective of experienced C-level executives quickly and affordably. With a focus on getting results, companies find that renting the rock star exec outweighs getting 100 percent of the time of a lesser light.
It’s a common scenario: A company spends the money to delve into a massive ERP implementation only to get stalled, Or worse, flounder and fall flat (and lose big bucks in the process).
Maybe it’s the lack of planning or software curation. Maybe it’s not thinking ahead for future needs. It might also boil down to not having the right talent to make that integration sing.
For all that goes into ERP implementation — ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, is, after all, managing, streamlining and tying together all the most essential parts of a business — strategizing every step should be a nonnegotiable.
“ERP systems usually get replaced every seven to 10 years. I’ve been with some companies where they hadn’t replaced them for 25 years,” says Bruce Howard, an InterimExecs RED Team member and Interim CIO who has spent much of his career implementing ERP systems.
“There’s a planning phase to bring all of the pieces together and make sure you’ve got a clear approach and clear people assigned. And then you need a methodology for the way you select systems and implement.”
To better understand the components of a successful ERP implementation and strategy, how an ERP can support business operations and better decision making, and how bringing in a veteran can elevate the process, we asked Howard along with interim executives Tony DeLima and Alonso Vargas to walk us through the essential elements.
Company owners and investors call us wanting to brainstorm about the type of leaders they need, which is great – right up our alley.
Why do companies call us saying they need an interim executive? A top interim put it this way: companies show up because something is going really, really right. Or because something has gone really, really wrong.
Fitting into one of those categories is just the start of the conversation. We also must determine if an organization is the right fit to work with InterimExecs RED Team.
We have invested 12 years and thousands of man-hours screening, ranking, and choosing the most talented CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and other executives across the C-suite to form the RED Team. That work continues every day, curating top talent for leadership on demand. These relationships are dear to us, so just as we screen executives, it’s important that we also screen companies that want to land a great executive.
Would your organization be a good fit for us and the RED Team? We have listed the top three factors we seek in both executives and companies we choose to match for talent.
Let’s explore this together and see how we match up in our leadership on demand values and your company’s goals:
First-year Change Agent members have access to the Interim Institute’s 4 hour audio program on the Fundamentals of Interim Management, and a one-hour strategy session to help jumpstart their interim career.
*$200 additional charge for Accelerator Program only applies for first-year members. After the first year, membership renews at $485/year.
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