The Use and Abuse of the Interim Management Position

| May 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

Over the last year I have become aware of a significant jump in theFeeling-Overwhelmed[1] use of Interim Management positions in non-profit organizations, corporations or government institutions. This is certainly not a new phenomena, interim positions have been around as long as organizations. Interim Management positions are essential as leadership leaves and the process of finding the new individual begins. I have held interim positions in the past, and overall found the role a great development opportunity. When I think back to these roles, their success for me and the company, they represented several key attributes:

  1. Clarity of expectations and related support
  2. Recognition of the contribution – articulated through a review process as well as monetarily
  3. Room to initiate – within limits
  4. Easy access to upper management or the board
  5. A reasonable time-frame
  6. Up-to-date status of the hiring process


In short, I never felt ‘used and abused’. I think I was luckier than I realized. More times than not I think we, intentionally or unintentionally, may be leaning towards abuse of our Interims. It’s not hard to fall into some bad behaviors. Often the vacancy happens quickly with little time to plan. Expending the effort to clearly define the role of the Interim doesn’t happen. We’re busy developing the expectations for the person whom we will eventually hire. Interims typically do a very good job of holding down the fort allowing us not to worry about the day-to-day, which turns into month to month. Invariably we think we will find the permanent replacement sooner than we actually do. Our tendency is to not provide any sort of financial recognition for the extra duties – it’s just going to be for a few weeks, maybe a couple of months. Of course, we all know that processes and decisions are pushed out. At what point does it make sense to consider monetary recognition?


We need to value these ‘good soldiers’ who are stepping up and sometimes stepping into difficult situations. Interims provide a level of stabilization during a transition period that is critical for staff and constituents. An interim position can be a wonderful opportunity for individual growth and development. The Interim Position is uniquely able to set the groundwork for the new leader’s transition. The person can also provide great insight regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. Valuing their assessment is priceless recognition.


So, the next time you and your organization need to establish an Interim Management Position, consider these questions:

  • What are the specific responsibilities and what groups will they participate in or lead?
  • What decisions are they expected to make and what decisions are they not to make?
  • Who do they report to, how do they report and how often do they report?
  • Are there initiates the Interim would like to pursue and is the organization willing to support these?
  • How would the Interim define this as a successful assignment?
  • What is the expected time frame and what changes if the time moves out?
  • What is their role in the hiring process of the new leader?
  • Will the organization provide additional financial recognition and how is it tied to achievements?


Certainly there are other considerations. I believe the key is for us to recognize that our Interim Managers are valuable resources and need to be treated as such. Slow down to speed up.


Category: Human Capital Management, Newsletters


About the Author ()

Julia Hill-Nichols, SPHR, is the founder of LeadersCove, LLC. With over 30 years experience in operations and human capital management, Julia is gifted in the art and science of bridging strategic imperatives and a company’s human capabilities—executing for success, meeting bottom-line objectives and enlivening the people who are the organization’s lifeblood.

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