Hiring an interim executive in times of need can be a reliable strategy for your company’s success. Although preparing and interacting with an interim leader is very similar to how you would handle a permanent employee, there are some key differences. Having negotiated interim hires for many life sciences companies, I have insights from both the hiring company and interim employee perspective. Below I outline five guidelines for working with an interim executive in order to maximize success from the short-term experience:
Interim means interim.
Treat the interim executive as just that, an interim executive, even if it there is a possibility that he or she will be hired for the permanent role. Otherwise, you lose the interim’s unbiased perspective, a key benefit of interim leadership. This neutral perspective can be used to your advantage because an impartial executive will give more honest advice and not be worried about internal office politics.
Don’t treat the interim like an outsider.
On that note, just because the executive is there temporarily does not mean that he or she should be treated like an outsider in any way. Remember that this person was hired for a reason. It’s wise to put full trust in the interim executive because he or she is a part of your team and is there to lead your company to success. Meet with the interim often and offer information and support. This will ensure that the leader has all the tools he or she needs to get the job done.
Don’t get offended.
Interim executives are typically hired during critical times, so don’t be offended if this highly experienced executive has some constructive criticism to offer in order to move forward. Listen to what the leader has to say and remember that he or she has their work cut out for them. If some of the change that needs to take place involves you, keep in mind that it’s all for the good of the company.
Stick to a flexible timeline.
Often, the major challenges that the interim talent is hired to address take time to overcome. Although only temporary, interim positions have been known to last up to 9 months or longer. So give time for the leader’s plans to progress. That being said, don’t let the executive slack or the position drag on. Check in with the interim leader often and make sure he or she is sticking to a flexible timeline.
Use this time to assess.
There is a lot to be gained from the short time that the interim executive is working at your company. This is a time to learn from the leader’s expertise and assess whether a permanent position should be created. If it is already certain that a permanent position is to be filled, then assess what qualities you liked in the interim and didn’t like. Consider what you will then look for in the permanent hire.
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