Radical winds were blowing across the country when Bjørn Delbæk started his leadership career in the Norwegian Armed Forces in 1971. Four decades later he can look back on a rich period of his life - but still feels that his best period is the one he is experiencing now, as an interim manager.
The USA was still in Vietnam, 68ers were highly visible in the streets, and Gro Anita Schønn's simple song of freedom topped the Norwegian singles chart in the year Bjørn Delbæk started his leadership career, as a sergeant in the Norwegian Army.
"The Armed Forces was perhaps not the most popular place to work in those days, but I learned a lot about leadership, education and getting people to follow you in the 9 years I served," says Delbæk, who today is a major in the reserves.
Since he retired from the Armed Forces, Delbæk has served in senior executive teams in Orkla and the Carlsberg Group, and has accumulated solid management experience from both the union side of things and private business.
In 2008, he made the switch from the post of HR Director in Ringnes to life as an independent consultant and adviser. Among the doors this opened was an assignment as the programme director for the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) and, as time went by, work as an interim manager.
"For me personally, the role of interim manager is ideal because it gives me the flexibility and freedom to control more of my own life," says Delbæk, who in his last assignment was brought in as the HR director in Vectura AS, Norway's leading alcoholic beverage distribution company.
"In 2011, I was hired, via InterimLeder AS, to take responsibility for a restructuring process in the Arcus Group, which was going to move from Oslo to Gjelleråsen. I primarily worked on change management and restructuring staffing," says Delbæk.
Delbæk is convinced that many companies would benefit from hiring interim managers instead of having in-house staff work as acting managers in positions that need to be filled quickly.
"Acting managers often expect to remain in the position, even though this is not always the outcome. By bringing in an interim manager, the management team wins time to think things though and avoid putting themselves in such a dilemma. You can still consider current employees for the position, but without placing them in it too early."
As an experienced manager, he has also seen how managers who have worked somewhere for a long time can take decisions based on company politics and old habits.
"When you have worked somewhere for a long time, you have ties to the people and prevailing culture, and you become used to doing things in a specific way. Interim managers come to the company without these ties, and, because they are there to resolve a specific task, they will take decisions based on what is best for the company and not based on company politics," concludes Delbæk.
When you have worked somewhere for a long time, you have ties to the people and prevailing culture, and you become used to doing things in a specific way. Interim managers come to the company without these ties, and, because they are there to resolve a specific task, they will take decisions based on what is best for the company and not based on company politics.
- Bjørn Delbæk