5 Mistakes You’re Making in Interim Executive Search and How to Fix Them

5 Mistakes You’re Making in Interim Executive Search and How to Fix Them

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.

1. Assuming great executive talent will translate into great on-demand management. 

At most companies, senior leadership means issuing directives and expecting people to follow that lead. But experienced interim executives know that their job is to listen, especially to the people who have the specific expertise needed to accomplish the organization’s goals. 

How to fix this mistake: Whether you need an interim or fractional CEO, CIO, CFO, COO, CTO, or CMO, hire someone with experience, not just as a C-Suite leader, but as an interim C-Suite leader. That person will know that the ultimate goal is to make him or herself obsolete by empowering others in the organization. 

2. Choosing a short-term executive who plays it safe.

Too many executive candidates spent their careers operating in maintenance mode. They kept their heads down to ensure they would keep their jobs. They have no bandwidth for rocking the boat. But your company needs a little boat rocking or you wouldn’t be considering adding an interim to your leadership team.

How to fix this mistake: Choose someone for the critical interim role with a proven track record of doing more than maintaining the status quo. Ask for case studies in which the interim leadership candidate had to make tough decisions to help a company power through reform and come out the winner.

3. Thinking a consultant is the same as an interim.

Consultants like to compare themselves to interims. After all, consultants come in to give advice, analyze operations, and deliver slick-looking reports filled with strategic initiatives and lofty goals. But that’s where the similarity ends. Consultants are not expected to stick around and put their plans into place. They are not expected to hire, fire, execute plans and then answer for the results. 

How to fix this mistake: Ask your HR department or executive search firm to bring you only interim management candidates who go beyond giving advice, analyzing operations, and identifying strategic initiatives and lofty goals. Look for interims with the skill sets needed to execute those plans. Execution is anathema to consultants; it’s the lifeblood of true interims.

4. Believing the interim candidate who tells you what you want to hear.

Steer clear of the candidate who tells you whatever you want to hear. It’s a clear sign that he or she won’t have the backbone to make the changes that will be necessary to save your company.

How to fix this mistake: The right interim is the executive who can deal in hard deliverables. Look for interim candidates who speak the truth. Executive recruiting shouldn’t be a popularity contest. 

5. Hiring an interim who really wants to be a full-time executive.

There are executive job seekers who see an interim assignment as a way to collect a paycheck until the job search bears fruit. They aren’t mentally fit for the uncertainty of being a true interim who knows that success in the job means working him or herself out of job. Chances are the focus of the fake interim will be on his or her job search rather than solving the problems your company faces. Should that job search succeed, the fake will leave you in the lurch.

How to fix this mistake: Contract with Interim Executives to send one of our fully-vetted, ready-to-serve RED Team interim executives to solve your company’s problems. 

Our interims are true interims. They live for the challenge of solving difficult problems for companies in need. They have no attachment to the status quo, and nothing to gain from keeping up appearances or telling people what they want to hear. 

Our RED Team interims are in the business of radical change. They enjoy problem-solving so much that once they have solved your problems, they will go looking for the next problem to solve.

True interims can bring positive change to your company. Reach out to us today to find out how we can solve your company’s leadership challenges.