Firstly, I’d like to thank the Institute of Interim Management for gathering responses from thousands of interim managers and for producing such a high quality and in-depth survey. During a time when there is real focus on the use of interim management in the public sector, it’s both interesting and useful to have access to this data and these findings. The survey not only helps interim management providers like Tile Hill to determine how we’re performing, it also helps us to provide a better, more tailored service that interim managers and clients prefer.
There are a few main areas that are of particular interest to Tile Hill and, we hope, to our community of interim managers:
Public versus private sector mix
With the government’s new ‘off payroll working in the public sector’ legislation coming into effect this year, it’s interesting to see how this has affected the interim management community. The survey shows that interim managers engaged in public sector work dropped five percentage points over the past year. In 2017 those taking up public sector work represent 34% of the market compared with 39% in 2016. Although this is a considerable drop in just one year, it doesn’t represent the cliff edge that many commentators thought we might see. In fact, the public sector interim market has been a much smaller proportion of the overall market in the past. In 2012, those interim managers taking up public sector work represented just 24% of the market.
Undoubtedly, this new legislation has had an impact on the industry but anecdotal evidence from interim managers and competitor businesses, together with what Tile Hill is experiencing across our own customer base, is that demand is picking up again after the “post IR35 lull”. Indeed, large scale structural and workforce change continues across the public sector which has driven demand for high calibre professionals capable of leading and implementing change. Coupled with this, permanent leadership teams in the public sector are often overstretched and under-resourced. It is, to a large degree, these two factors driving the continued need for interim management and independent consultants across the public sector.
Although the proportion of female interim managers has shown a general trend of increasing gradually over the years, interim management is still heavily male dominated. Just 26% of interim managers responding to the IIM survey are women. Although this statistic is almost exactly in line with board level representation in our permanent labour market (26.7% according to a recent parliamentary review of corporate governance on boards of British companies), it is still a rather surprising and disappointing statistic. And, like female representation on British boards, the percentage has fallen in the past year.
Women bring a great deal to the interim market and in turn, a career in interim management can offer a lot to women and help to accelerate careers. Interim recruitment processes are generally more meritocratic than many permanent recruitment processes and organisations will look for fresh thinking and the objectivity that interim managers bring. This means that they will be more confident to not appoint people in their own likeness and will be more open to diversity.
Women leaders have been found to be better at motivating teams, to have better emotional intelligence and self-awareness and to be more able to innovate and lead with clarity and impact. All of which are great attributes for being a success in interim management. What’s more, women are better collaborators, and at a time when the public sector is being asked to work differently and bring people together across organisational boundaries to deliver improved outcomes, this is a very valuable trait that more interim managers will require.
Relationships are key
The survey highlights the importance of relationships between service providers and both interim managers and clients. It shows that ‘warm introductions’ by service providers, where there is a pre-existing relationship and a deep understanding of a clients’ culture and challenges, result in better outcomes for everyone. Indeed, 60% of assignments, a significant majority, come when there is a pre-existing relationship between an interim manager and a provider consultant. Additionally, an interim manager is 10 times as likely to be approached by a consultant that they have met and know than for their CV to be plucked from a company’s database by someone that they haven’t.
This focus on relationships is a key differentiator of the Interim Management market place compared with volume or mid-market recruitment. One way in which Tile Hill would like to continue to differentiate ourselves from other companies is by continuing to place an emphasis on these relationships. All of this reinforces the importance of networking and of taking time to get to know the best recruiters for your industry or specialism that can help to secure your next assignment.