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The strengths and skills of an interim manager

Why use an interim manager?

The interim manager combines the following skills and qualities:

1. Experience

2. Êbe operational quickly

3. Adaptability

4. Mobility

5. Resistance to stress

6. Responsiveness

7. Open-mindedness

8. Attentiveness

9. Strong capacity for synthesis

10. Quick decision-making skills

11. Leadership

12. Pragmatism

13. Neutrality

An interim manager with this profile will have every chance on his or her side. Let's take a look at the different skills that are attributed to this ideal profile, this woman or man who is so much expected in a company!

What is the ideal profile of an interim manager?

Experience: a necessity

First and foremost, interim managers must be experienced. This means that he or she must have worked, generally within large groups, in management positions and on a variety of projects. It should be remembered that interim managers are called in to help in special situations, such as opening a subsidiary abroad. It is therefore common for interim managers to have a minimum of 20 years' seniority. This statement needs to be qualified in 2018, as we are seeing an increase in the number of profiles from SMEs.


Availability, at several levels

The interim manager is quickly operational and able to adapt to a variety of situations. They are expected to find their feet quickly and fit seamlessly into the organization. The same applies to geographical availability: many high-profile assignments require the interim manager to travel internationally.

Rapid adaptation to a new environment makes the interim manager "available". So, this providential man or woman must be able to "grasp" the company: its organization, values and practices, but also its chains of command, power issues and human bottlenecks.

During the course of the assignment, the interim manager is expected to be responsive and able to withstand stress. This "moral availability" will be crucial in many contexts.


Open-mindedness - an essential quality

Open-mindedness is a prerequisite for certain attitudes and practices. Interim managers are expected to really listen to the people they work with, and to have a good grasp of the situation. Listening to the management in place, but also to employees, is decisive for certain assignments. The ability to put oneself in other people's shoes, to hear other points of view, is an essential human quality, especially in interim management.


The spirit of synthesis and the ability to decide

In an interim management assignment, there is a necessary diagnostic phase. It is at this stage that the interim manager will listen to others and collect data on the situation. This gathering of information and the associated start-up meetings should lead the interim manager to produce a synthesis. And it is this synthesis that will lead him to draw up a realistic action plan, with objectives that are tenable for the company. The interim manager must decide quickly and well. You could almost call him a "decision manager", since so many stumbling blocks arise from an inability to draw up clear lines of action.


Leadership and its benefits

The interim manager is a leader. To achieve the objectives he has set himself, and which management has chosen to follow, collaboration is essential. He must therefore know how to mobilize men and women at different hierarchical levels, listen to and deal with reluctance, and "rally" teams to his cause, in a word: federate.

An interim manager is also expected to have excellent interpersonal skills, which he or she will be able to mobilize in tense situations, for example (think of a reorganization with redundancy plans).

The interim manager's charisma is sometimes referred to, and rightly so.


Pragmatism, the key to success

The culture of results is that of the interim manager. The interim manager must do everything possible to achieve the objectives set in agreement with management, and also know how to adapt along the way. Without going so far as to have to navigate by sight, we can say that the interim manager must know how to adjust, refine, modify or even abandon certain paths that prove unsuccessful.


The sense of neutrality, the hidden ability...

More difficult to define is the interim manager's ability to adopt a position of neutrality. Some situations require him to set aside his opinions and biases, because what may appear to him as an aberration in the system will not be changed in any case. You have to be able to step back from the situation, while keeping the mission in mind.

Reasons for a company to opt for this solution

The portrait painted is an ideal one, based on real data from the field. This article is also intended as an assessment tool for future interim managers, enabling them to position themselves on the qualities and skills described, which are all dimensions of their profile.

IMfinity will prepare you and support you right up to the start of the assignment.

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Written under the supervision of Francis Fernandez-Mouron.