HR & Management

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How to make interim staff work for your business

5 Mins

First things first, what is an interim? Different industries refer to interim positions in different ways. You may hear interim employment referred to as freelancing, temporary, contract, contingent or consulting. 

For the purposes of this article an interim is defined as a proven ‘heavyweight’ executive responsible for managing a period of transition, absence, crisis or change within an organisation, on a short-term basis.

In an unstable economic market, an interim is often the clear choice for many organisations, when they are not in a position to offer permanent employment, or it is clear this resource is not needed in the business for the long term. 

In addition, it can be a comfort to many employers to know they’re utilising the top talent the market has to offer, whilst not having to worry about securing them for the future. It is imperative, however, that if you choose to hire an interim, you get the best out of what can be a very expensive option.

The right source

Picking the right recruitment agency to find your interim is imperative; this is not a transactional “off the shelf” process and has nuances that need to be taken into consideration in order to get the right candidate, first time! 

By spending some time choosing the right company you will save valuable time getting your candidate on board and up to speed, as this work should have already been done for you. So what should you ask yourself when selecting an agency to partner with?

  • Do they understand your industry and where you sit within it?
  • Do they truly understand your needs from an interim and are they able to find a solution?
  • Do they have the necessary market presence to have deep, senior and strategic conversations with potential candidates?
  • Are they transparent with their fees so you know what is going to the interim and what is going to the agency?

Choosing the right agency goes hand in hand with the right candidates; you can’t have one without the other.

Making the most out of your interim

When you’ve found your interim candidate, make sure you’re ready to get your money’s worth! Prepare a really in-depth brief that clearly defines the deliverables and desired outcomes, not just a job description. Get this over to them before they start. A good interim will be used to this process and they will use this opportunity to get ready for their new project (on their own time as opposed to yours!). 

Also find ways to save “paid” time by arranging for key information to be prepared for them in advance, e.g. email account set-up, access to everyone’s outlook diaries, contact directory for all the people they will need to engage with, list of key meeting dates such as Board Meetings, Operating Committee, structure charts to help understand key roles and the stakeholder landscape, etc.

If the time is taken in the pre-briefing, after a brief HR introduction on their first day to say ‘here’s your desk, here are the toilets, in the event of a fire…!’, they should be ready to get going straight away and add value from day one. And why not? You’ve paid for an industry expert.

A lasting impression

Finally, there is one way to really make sure your interim is working for you – allow them to make an impression. Typically, they will be well versed in joining projects for a short period of time, therefore listen to what they have to say. 

Prior to your interim joining decide what knowledge transfer you’re hoping to obtain, and where you hope the individual will add value to your business.

They are a fresh pair of eyes and will be able to make some insightful suggestions to your processes, so consider what they say and if you think it’s a good idea, implement it!

Cindy Knight is head of Curve Contractors – The Curve Group.

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