What is an Interim? An Executive who Delivers Change (Fast)

What is an interim? Though the specialty of highly talented interim executives is quickly growing, many companies remain unaware of this critical resource. And despite Europe’s head-start in using interim executive labor, lack of clarity exists on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the rest of the globe.

Interim executives and consultants share traits. But consulting tends to be built around producing analysis and delivering a thought product. The definition of interim is different. An interim remains to get the grease on his or her hands as a company implements change. While analysis is a fundamental tool in the executive interim’s toolbox, the ability to implement and execute defines the interim. They can be essential during critical periods of a company’s life, including the stages of start-up, turnaround, or internal change.

“It’s badly understood…and a lot of companies don’t understand when to fully use us,” said Gaby Weidlich, a U.K.-based interim CEO with more than 10 years in the interim industry. “We are there to bring change, to shake things up, and to deliver projects that internally couldn’t be done before” and then to leave, she said.

What is an interim motivated by? Interim executives are a profession of people who want to be challenged by something new, and are able to take their services, generally for a 6-12 month period, to corporations, boards, non-profits, and for-profits — basically the entire span of industry and business.

Interim executives bring objectivity to the table that permanent employees can’t provide: corporate politicking gives way to straightforward analysis and action under a fixed term. An interim executive brings results.

As noted, the interim profession is more mature in Europe than in the U.S. Many industry sources expect the trend toward the use of interim executives to increase significantly, in line with a shift toward the use of temporary labor overall.

Companies that are smart enough to utilize interim executives gain access to experts who can bring the required, specific capabilities to the game.

What is an interim most interested in accomplishing? As opposed to consulting work, interim executives are able to penetrate into the operational details to accomplish the corporate mission. For example, a an interim CMO brings the viewpoint from the 30,000-foot level, but—as one member recently put it– also knows the nuts and bolts of the operation well enough to hire the next copywriters.

So, where does an interim fit? In a situation that requires high-level experience, vision, and quick results. It’s a specialized and effective tool.