Does your HR toolbox include interim management?

You will experience many challenging situations as a HR manager. What do you do when the financial director goes on long-term sick leave in the middle of the annual report process? What do you do when a manager disappears overnight or the marketing manager is suddenly no longer there?

In most situations you have a 'toolbox' you can use, but traditional tools are often not enough in these acute situations. Recruitment is not the solution; at least not the immediate solution. It can easily take 2-3 months to replace a person, and what do you do when the person on long-term sick leave returns?

People often turn to one of three solutions:

  1. Try to resolve the problem in-house 
    As a rule this is not a good solution since the in-house displacement means that you end up with a junior in a senior position. This leaves an expertise 'hole' and can create capacity problems.
  2. Hire a consultant 
    This is not an optimum solution because consultants are normally not operational 'doers' and are not 100% dedicated to the job either, since they have other clients knocking on their door every day.
  3. Find a person someone in the company knows 
    You could get lucky using your network, but you are largely at the mercy of circumstance.

All three of these 'solutions' are traps to be avoided, unless your back is to the wall. But it does not have to be, when you know what I am about to tell you now:

The solution to a management crisis

The best solution, in 9 out of 10 cases, is to bring in a good interim manager. He or she will be an experienced, overqualified manager who can be in post within a few days and be operational from day one. Whether you need a senior manager, specialist or project manager, an interim manager will be able to fill the role.

Internationally, interim management is a growing sector. If we look at our British neighbours across the 'Puddle', interim management represents a market worth GBP 1.5 billion, and the sector has grown by 93% since 2006. The UK has around 15,000 active interim managers, while Germany keeps around 12,000 busy.

InterimLeder AS is a market leader in interim manager in Norway and has built up a base of more than 1,400 available interim managers since 2001. In our daily conversations with HR managers in Norwegian business we hear growing recognition that the appointment of a new senior manager by a board of directors is a time-consuming process and a suitable manager who can start almost immediately is often necessary for the interim. Interim management is thus the solution that ensures the 'hole' in an organisation is quickly and excellently filled.

In conclusion, I would like to give you some advice on choosing interim managers, based on decades of experience:

  • Always have a clear idea of what the ideal candidate should be like and ensure that all relevant decision-makers in the organisation properly understand and are on board with the decision to hire an interim manager.
  • Use a reputable interim management agency with the appropriate experience and expertise to quickly find managers with the correct balance of great management skills, specialist expertise and industry experience.
  • Think through the duties you want the interim manager to perform.
  • Establish clear powers, directions and time estimates for the interim manager at the start, so that both parties have a mutual understanding of which decisions the interim manager can make, which tasks must be performed, and when results are expected.
  • Ensure that the interim manager understands your needs from the start. Normally, it should not take an interim manager long to understand their role and assignment, and thus become fully operational.
  • Clarify the interim manager's role with the employees.


I hope you now have a better starting point the next time an acute need for a manager arises. Interim management is a robust and reliable tool to have in your HR toolbox. And if you cannot simply take my word for it, listen to what our clients have to say.