It starts with an unexpected gap in the management, a failed recruitment, a sudden departure of a manager. The leadership wants a new manager in place as quick as possible and often does not use the ‘situation of vacancy’ to reflect on creating possible changes in the management or the organisation during an interim period.In practice the temporary vacancy filling process starts with some delay, with all focus on a quick successor recruitment process, sometimes followed by the search for an internal caretaker. It’s only once this proves unsuccessful, that a decision for an interim is taken. Not seldom precious time is lost this way and the new manager will start in a team that has suffered from this situation.
Being a manager with a long and diverse management experience at ICCO, I have experienced being called in as an interim at a relatively early stage in ‘gap filling processes’ in ICCO. Assuming the (familiar) regular management tasks can be done quickly and this allows me to address the change issue at an early stage.
Interim management can, also in such situations, play a useful role of reflection, reorientation, re-arranging, in short: a role of moderate, usually operational change. It is an added value to filling the gap.
Pro-active consultation with the client on the change issue in a preparatory stage is necessary (as a sudden vacancy usually is ignored as chance for change) and the first experiences of the interim manager in place will further refine the need (or not) and suggestions for change. In practice the mix of the encouraged clients’ awareness for change opportunities and the first interim management experiences set the ‘change’ objectives, that consequently become part of the interim assignment.
Working this way, vacancy-filling interim management can constructively add to the creation of changes in a team, unit or organisation.
Suggestions for clients
- Once a management vacancy arises, reflect on changes that you want to create, benefitting from the chance to use an interim for that purpose.
- Be transparent to staff about (ideas of) changes; there is a tendency of reluctance for change, certainly when an interim is hired to create these changes.
- Allow the interim some time in the assignment to investigate or confirm the clients suggestions for change in order to fine-tune and create support for changes in the team.
Appointing an internal caretaker as interim, coached and assisted by an external advisor on organizational change, is another way of combining regular management with change objectives in an interim phase.
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