Quite the jetsetter

Article in The HR Director for www.someonewho.com

What does it take to be an interim? You know, one of those really capable professionals who can do everything really well at lightning pace. A feature request by the client, this article was researched and crafted to balance brand tone with the editorial style of the publication. What else do you write about while waiting for your flight at Singapore Airport?

The passport to the perfect interim

More than a quarter of HR Managers say a bad interim hire will cost your business money

38% say the same will cause delays

A whopping 39% say the wrong choice will ground morale

Interims jet in temporarily to the hottest spots in your business to cut costs, restructure or integrate a positive change. You want the very best from the limited time you have and getting your hiring right is one of the biggest decisions you’ll face.

Each situation has it’s own variables. Don’t just think about the job title – think about the environment your interim will be working in, the timescales for deliverables and the cultural fit you need. Then interview against those characteristics. But don’t forget there are core skills that apply to all interims and the following steps will take you on a smoother hiring ride.

Pre-flight checks
Only a good CV will get your candidate to the table but expect certain non-negotiables when they get there. You don’t just need the talent and the experience at senior level, you want demonstrable expertise in the particular field. For interims implementing change, up-to-date knowledge that your business might not have can be key. If this shows up at the initial interview, along with an enthusiastic and confident close, it’s a good start.

Passing the physical
You want sleeves rolled up and ready for the hard graft. Without time to waste, your perfect interim needs to grapple firmly with the task-in-hand from day one. Interims get things done to a high quality at a remarkable rate. But don’t underestimate the physical demands. They may have to live out of a briefcase, work late, run for that flight or drive to the far ends of forever at the drop of a hat. Being constantly agile and flexible in the interim world takes its toll and you need everyone at full strength and in the game.

Proof of change
80% of interim assignments focus on change. If this is the case for you, demand evidence your candidate can effect change. Clear, concise examples of where they’ve found issues, what plans they’ve hatched to crack them and proof of results. Call references directly. You’ll get more from a chat than you’ll ever get from a form.

The personality test
We’re back to non-negotiables here. An interim has to form relationships quickly, engage, lead and motivate. There should be confidence but cockiness is a no-no. An entrepreneurial spirit is a given and you need a visionary to take a helicopter view. 5000 feet up you can see the dots that make-up the big picture but we need to be able to drop in and scrutinise every leaf. The absolute sweet spot is somewhere between sensitivity and gravitas. Good advice is only good if it’s invited, so high emotional intelligence and deft handling of challenging leadership situations is a must.

The introduction
The rules for introducing an interim are simple:
1 – let everyone know that the interim is coming
2 – make it 100% clear why they’re there
3 – ensure the interim is able to meet with their new team (if they have one) and/or the stakeholders on day one

Quash the murmurs
Managing team morale is always critical. There’s a cause and effect relationship between morale and productivity/quality. Rumours will grow in a communication vacuum. And those rumours are usually negative. Communicate early, honestly and on time to avoid wagging tongues.

Focus on the endgame
You’re investing to get a job done and your hired head needs to deliver the goods. You need someone who can block out all of the noise, mediate through it and avoid mission creep. The best will always find a way and a goal-focused-individual can list a catalogue of achievements. Make sure your interim is badged and certified to the hilt, both in and out of the work arena.

A little extra help
There’s no sense paying good money to have a quality interim paying lip-service to existing dynamics. Help them to realise their potential by providing the support they need.

Andrew Saffron leads the way for high quality hired guns. Founder at digital recruitment platform, SomeoneWho, he links hirers with the best talent so projects get completed, budgets are met and real change flies.