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Interim Executives Can Create Value

By David Shaffer (860 words)
Posted in Leadership & Teambuilding on February 22, 2015

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As businesses work daily to align their products and services to fulfill the needs and expectations of its customers, frequently circumstances surface that initiate corrective or “interim” actions. In most instances, these actions are directed at a specific issue and generally drawn from past experiences. In any event, interim solutions are meant to address, fix and enhance overall customer service thereby creating value for the customer and ultimately the company.


However, when the issues become significant in that they are drawing away executive resources for an extended period of time and exception becomes the rule, then the assistance of an experience, external resource can prove valuable. Issues can include such areas as under achieved sales projections, degradation in product quality, declining employee morale, challenges in accurate financial reporting, lack of accountability, unclear strategic and operational goals, and so forth. Unlike the less impactful daily issues addressed, the issues that pull management and executives away from their responsibilities reverberate throughout the organization and impact the expected stakeholder return on investment.


In these cases, with properly established expectations, an interim executive can be the conduit needed to realign an organization and put it back on track to meet strategic objectives.


The Right Interim for the Job


Over the many years of providing interim support to clients, I have discovered the key to an interim’s success is an assurance that they remain focused, objective and have well-defined expectations and deliverables. Generally when an interim is hired, there is a significant amount of emotion that the hiring party is experiencing. Remembering that the interim is there to address the issues and remove anxiety from the organization, it is essential that the business select the right interim for the job.


With this in mind, during the interview and final selection process, the following should be addressed:


  • Does the interim have the necessary business experience to address the areas of focus

  • Has the interim provided an outlined proposal that clearly defines the issues to be addressed, the appropriate action steps and ultimate deliverables

  • Has there been a timeline defined with the appropriate checks in place to assure that progress is being made

  • Is the proposed course of action consistent with the values and mission of the company

  • Has the executive team reached out to references to obtain feedback on the performance of the interim

  • Is there a clear roadmap of expectations provided by the interim so that the stakeholders are aware of the timeline, investment and expected results 

  • Does the interim have the time available to devote the proposed timeline and course of action




Through effective strategic planning, businesses are able to define a projected target operating model and the key action steps necessary to reach the target. Frequently a path that was clear during the planning begins to lose its focus and direction. Circumstances surface that draw internal resources away from their responsibilities or tribal knowledge directs the resources to a path that is even further removed from the target. To simply add and throw resources at issues typically exasperates the situation and financially impacts the business.


If the issues can be clearly defined and a process of remediation introduced, then the return on investment from introducing the appropriate interim will undoubtedly create value to management, employees and stakeholders alike.



{#/pub/images/Davidpicture2014.jpg}Written by David Shaffer, Partner and Director Consulting Services, David Shaffer Consulting LLC   Recognized for his ability to effectively integrate all aspects of business including financial management, information systems, infrastructure, sales management, sales strategies and operations. David assists companies from executive strategic planning through operational and business process improvement opportunities to the selection and integration of Management Information Systems solutions. He also supports Private Equity firms in due diligence activities extending from strategic planning into leadership development and CEO mentoring. His range of company support includes start up through fortune 500.



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Comments (1)

Moira Blythe posted on: February 27, 2018

My friend's company has an interim executive working right now and I know nothing about how that works. I appreciate your advice here that interims will be successful when they are focused, objective, and have well-defined expectations and deliverables. I've never worked with an interim before, but I think if I were to, it would be helpful if they had these qualities.

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