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Navigating Success Through Interim Contracts

by Luca Wells


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Embarking on an interim contract offers a unique opportunity to not only contribute your expertise to an organisation but also to grow your skills professionally. Whether you're stepping into an interim role to fill a temporary gap or to bring about change, understanding how to exceed your client's expectations is crucial. In this post, we will highlight the key points to ensure your interim role is not just successful but also a fulfilling chapter in your career journey.

1. Understand the contract
The foundation of a successful interim engagement lies in a thorough understanding of your contract. Know the ins and outs of what is expected of you, the organisation's culture, and the challenges it faces. Your goal is to leave a lasting positive impact, elevating the team and organisation from its current state to one of enhanced performance and morale. If you’re unsure on any terms or goals within your contract, reach out to us and we will always be able to help.

2. Establish clear goals / key deliverables
Identify and align your efforts with the key goals and deliverables of the organisation. Understanding what success looks like is vital to making the most of your interim role and demonstrating the value you have provided to an organisation. Your time in the role might be brief, but your contributions should have lasting positive effects on the organisation.

3. Communication
Transparent and frequent communication with your client ensures alignment on expectations and progress. It is important to constantly check back that your findings and proposed plan forward is in line with the clients’ ambitions. If it feels like the scope is changing or expanding, double check your client is aware of this and comfortable with it. 

Equally important is your communication with the team you're leading or working alongside. Figure out how your team works; the best way to communicate with them and motivate them to achieve the desired results.  From the get-go, establish an understanding of the short-term and long-term goals, fostering a collaborative environment where everyone is motivated and geared towards a common purpose.

4. Understand timelines
Make sure you understand the desired deadlines from your client and ensure that these expectations are realistic based on resource levels, complexity and from your experience of having done it previously. Whilst many clients may be hiring you to shorten the curve as a result of the scars and learnings you’ve gained from doing the work previously, the outcomes still need to be reasonable and achievable in the time set to ensure all stakeholders are kept happy. Once you understand the desired outcomes your client is hoping for, set and communicate the timelines you are working to and the measures of progress within this. This up-front clarity is vital, but potentially subject to change, so maintaining communication is important.

5. Honesty on view of the organisation and what can be achieved.
As an external person coming in with a fresh pair of eyes, it’s important to be honest about what needs to be changed within the organisation. This must be done with due care and respect, taking into consideration the potential organisational history and politics (small P). Your emotional intelligence and leadership judgement is critical in how you approach this communication with the appropriate parties within the organisation and based on the brief you have been set.

6. Seek Feedback
Don’t be afraid to seek feedback from your team, sponsor and from your recruiter to truly understand how you are performing and that the client is happy with your work or if there is anything that needs addressing. Be open to feedback. As an interim manager, something can work really well in one role but not in a different scenario and this flexibility in approach and openness to adjust based on feedback is critical. Feedback is a good way to help you and your team achieve the combined goal but is also beneficial for your continued development as a leader, and as an interim manager.

Your journey through an interim contract is a great opportunity for impact and personal growth. Remember, the path to success is paved with clear understanding, goal setting, effective communication, feedback, adaptability, and honesty. As you navigate your interim role, know that you're not alone. Tile Hill is here to support you, offering advice and guidance to ensure your experience is not just successful, but also rewarding and enriching. Whether you're in the midst of a contract or preparing for your next opportunity, we're here to help you succeed. 

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