Rise of the interims

Rise of the interims

Itchy feet among growth-hungry bosses stuck in a state of inertia is driving an increase in demand for interim leaders. But will it last?

Trends that happen in the States usually happen here shortly after - banking collapses, the rise of gun crime and the gradual extinction of the tie in boardrooms all prime examples. Surely there’s a Malcolm Gladwell book in there somewhere; Tipping the Pond, perhaps.

Another reasonably recent pan-Atlantic trend is the growing penchant for interim leaders. Between 2010 and 2012, Manpower data claims, the use of contingency workers increased by 1.47% of the US workforce, or 625,000 workers.

From interim CEOs to mid-level leaders, the climate of uncertainty and the pressing need for change management has seen demand for quick-fix appointments surge stateside. And this trend has been mirrored here in the UK.

Last year a report by global research firm Ipsos MORI claimed that the amount of business generated by the UK´s top interim managers jumped 93% from £102m to £196m between 2006 and 2011. More recent reports this year show signs of interim demand spiralling further.

The market for interims grew by 5% between January and July this year, a Russam GSM audit of its vast database of interims found.

The most popular industry sectors for interims were engineering and manufacturing (12%), banking, finance and insurance (10%) and charity / not-for-profit (9%). The IT industry also ranked highly, with an 8% rise in demand.

Driving this demand, Russam says, is the appetite for interim leaders specialising in change management.

A survey of 12,000 interims highlighted that the majority of interim assignments are now for specialist projects or change management programmes – rather than more traditional ‘gap-filling’ assignments, which make up just 13% of total projects. 17% of interims say they are involved in change management work, while change and business transformation work now accounts for 19% of all assignments.

“Increasingly, CEOs are hiring interim change management experts to help them handle their toughest business challenges and to move their business to the next level,” said Russam GSM chairman Charles Russam.

The company also notes the increase in the number of businesses bored with a no-growth economy, keen to move ahead and with funds on hand who are now hiring Interims to help identify changes and to manage their implementation.

Specifically among women, the appeal of life as an interim boss seems to be growing. Membership organisation Interim Women (IW) claims that just over 40% of female interims in the UK expect to still be working as an interim in five years’ time, with only 11% seeing interim management as a way into full time employment.

IW research also states that one in five women have been busier than ever during the last few years as more companies want to hire people on an interim for their specialist skills or to undertake strategic business projects.

With the economy showing little sign of real accelerated recovery, company bosses are becoming increasingly frustrated with a lack of growth in their organisation. Add to this the rich pool of readily available leadership talent caused by high business failure rates and cuts at the top of public sector bodies, and growing demand for interim leaders looks to continue rising for some time yet.