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What makes a good interim and what to consider?

by Yas Din


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In today's fast-paced work world, interim professionals are the hidden gems helping organisations navigate change, fill crucial gaps, and lead projects with ease.

At Tile Hill we believe in the importance of utilising interims as part of an organisation’s resourcing strategy. Interims provide the ability to inject specialist skills for short term needs, being subject matter experts that help achieve outstanding results. This allows access to skills that may not be needed on a full-time basis or may not justify the cost of permanent hiring but can be hired on an interim basis to great effect.

But what really distinguishes a top-notch interim professional? It's more than just skill and speed; it’s about blending adaptability, leadership, and vision.

In this blog, we're diving into the must-have qualities that make an interim shine and leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re thinking about stepping into the interim world or already have, this guide is for you. Each of the points below contributes to an interim's ability to not just fit into an organisation temporarily but to also leave a legacy of improvement and efficiency.
Drawing from recent conversations with interims, we've gained insights into their dynamic roles. For further details, please refer to our insights page here,

Effective Planning for the First 30/60/90 Days

Interim assignments can be as short as 3 months and as long as 2 years. When starting a new interim assignment, it's important to think about how you would plan your first 30, 60 and 90 days in the role. Interim assignments demand a “hit the ground running attitude”, with a strategic approach that allows you to quickly make progress against the stated short-term objectives... quickly establishing credibility and putting the org/team/project on a sustainable path to success.

First step may be too quickly understand the context, gain a deep understanding of the organisation's current situation, challenges, goals, and culture; which in turn will help you identify the key areas where innovation and change is needed and will allow you to tailor your approach accordingly. Look at the ‘Quick Wins’ – this can help build momentum and credibility for more ambitious innovation initiatives.

Adaptability and Leadership in Dynamic Environments
Adaptability is paramount for interim professionals. Unlike permanent roles, interim roles land people into diverse organisational cultures and teams, requiring rapid acclimatisation to different personalities and operational styles. Interims must navigate complex challenges, balancing how to boost team morale whilst driving performance. Demonstrating the ability to lead through change is a testament to an interim's resilience and versatility. Interims shouldn’t get involved in the day to day work politics, and instead should focus on the task at hand, ensuring a positive outcome for all the key stakeholders.

Demonstrating Expertise and Subject Knowledge

Organisations seek interim professionals for their specialised experience and skills and the ability to apply this knowledge effectively from day one. Demonstrating your expertise not only validates your selection for the role but also ensures that you can make meaningful long-lasting contributions. Being an interim, you bring a wealth of knowledge with you and typically you would have first-hand experience of what has worked well in other organisations. While there’s no  ‘one size fits all’ method, leveraging your skills and experience allows you to tailor your approach accordingly.

Being Innovative
As an interim leader you may be asked to drive innovation, this involves bringing fresh perspectives, creative problem-solving, and adaptive strategies to drive change and deliver results. You need to objectively assess situations, tap into external networks, industry trends, and best practices to recommend improvements. Being innovative as an interim involves not just identifying opportunities for innovation but also implementing them effectively to enhance efficiencies and drive progress.

Communication Skills
Effective communication is vital for success in interim roles. The ability to showcase ideas clearly and concisely to stakeholders at all levels—from executive leaders and members to junior staff—facilitates collaboration and ensures organisational alignment. Clear and open communication fosters a collaborative culture, uniting teams under shared goals and ensuring that everyone is aligned with the organisation's vision and objectives. Additionally, adept communication skills play a crucial role in navigating the complexities of change management, reassuring stakeholders, and securing buy-in for strategic initiatives.

Problem-Solving and under constraints
Interim professionals frequently find themselves in high-stakes environments characterised by tight budgets, stringent deadlines, and resource limitations. These constraints necessitate not just conventional problem-solving skills but a highly innovative and adaptive approach to challenges. A successful interim applies creative thinking and strategic foresight to devise solutions that are not only effective but also cost-efficient and timely. This involves a keen ability to prioritise issues, assess risks, and make informed decisions that drive forward project objectives without compromising quality or strategic goals. 

Time Management:
Within interim roles, having only a limited amount of time to make an impact, time management becomes a key focus as a critical skill for success. Effective time management for an interim means meticulously planning and prioritising tasks to ensure that key objectives are met within the limited tenure. It also involves delegation, leveraging team strengths, and avoiding common pitfalls like micromanagement that can detract from overall productivity. A forward-thinking interim dedicates time to legacy planning—laying the groundwork for sustainable progress and a seamless transition to permanent staff or successors. This ensures that the interim's contributions have a lasting impact beyond their tenure.

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to understand and empathise with colleagues across different levels and political backgrounds enables interims to foster a positive, productive working environment. Emotional intelligence is the unsung hero of the interim's skill set, facilitating deep connections and creating a supportive, positive work environment even in times of uncertainty or change. It encompasses the ability to read and respond to the emotions of others, navigate interpersonal dynamics, and communicate effectively across diverse groups. High emotional intelligence allows interims to build trust quickly, motivate teams, and manage conflicts effectively, ensuring high morale and productivity among teams.

Budget Control
In interim roles, where the pressure to deliver tangible results within short time frames is heightened, mastery of budget control is paramount. Effective budget management extends beyond mere cost-cutting; it requires a strategic approach to allocating resources, maximising ROI, and ensuring that financial constraints do not compromise the quality of outcomes. There is a need to find efficiencies as part of the programme of work and even more so to demonstrate good value for your cost. This involves a thorough understanding of the financial landscape of the project, forecasting, and the ability to negotiate and manage costs proactively. By skilfully navigating financial constraints, interims can drive projects to success, demonstrating their critical role in achieving organisational objectives efficiently.

In the realm of interim roles, our mission at Tile Hill extends beyond making placements; we're dedicated to
fostering stories of triumph, growth, and tangible change. Over the years, we've proudly facilitated connections between hundreds of talented interim professionals and roles where they not only excel but also drive meaningful progress.

If you're ready to embark on your next professional journey, armed with the passion, determination, and the skills to make a real difference, we're eager to hear from you. Reach out today by booking a call here and allow our team to help you find an opportunity where you can leave a significant mark and contribute to transformative outcomes. 


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