Replacing the CEO, according to one survey, takes an average of 90 days. Another survey reveals that more than two-thirds of organizations do not have a formal succession planning process. Small wonder, then, that the supply of highly skilled executives on a temporary basis is becoming a high profile segment of the recruiting business.
Interim Executive Management is not new, but the current business atmosphere of uncertainty and instability appears to have increased awareness significantly. In the U.K., where it has been recognized and applied for many years, Interim Management is a £250 million business. It has also taken root in Germany and Belgium and is spreading elsewhere, most notably in the U.S., Australia, France, and Ireland.
“One obvious benefit is speed,” says Justin Mills, director of BK Cornerstone Limited, a U.K.-based member of the global executive search firm Cornerstone International Group. “Typically, we can put in place a highly skilled, experienced leader who fits the criteria within 3-5 days.
“This is someone who will hit the ground running, already having the skill sets and experience to meet the specific need.”
While much of the demand for interim managers has been driven by unexpected events or sudden departures, firms now also see this as an opportunity to benefit from change. An acquisition, a turn-around, a “right-sizing” situation, or specific niche initiatives are among reasons cited. Current clients tend to be in a change environment as with banking and finance, IT and telecom.
Search firms like BK Cornerstone that offer interim management services stress the difference between the interim manager and the career candidate, maintaining distinct databases for each population. The interim candidate is an executive or senior manager with a track record of success who wants the challenge of short-term mandates.
They are comfortable accepting direct responsibility for specific goals. They are motivated to achieve their goals, given that their future work depends upon referrals and a successful record.
“They are a different breed,” says Mills. “They add value to the client organization from day one and in many ways are better at making change happen than the permanent leadership teams.”
The rising demand for interim executives represents a major shift in corporate strategic thinking, according to business specialists. Companies now view interim hiring not as a stop-gap but as a short-term solution that delivers long-term gain in terms of embedded best practices and a legacy of improvement.
“We get a good view of this trend thanks to our global network,” says William Guy, Chairman and CEO of Cornerstone International Group. “For example, our members in China see a significant opportunity there due to economic growth and a shortage of executives with 10+ years of experience.
“We expect to see the demand for interim management continue to grow.”
Chief Marketing Officer
Cornerstone International Group