6 Steps to Leveraging an Interim Executive

Note: This is part two of a two part article on the business of interim executive placement. Part one appeared yesterday.

It is important for an executive search team to have clarity around the best way to structure the role of an interim executive within the client organization. If conducted thoughtfully, the company or division will experience forward momentum and be well-prepared for new leadership to step in.

Here are the six critical steps for an executive search team to work through with an organization to establish a successful interim executive lifecycle:

  1. Get agreement from the interim and the team that this is a short term relationship. Identify a target transition period and end date to avoid any confusion around a possible conversion to a permanent employee.
  2. Have the interim present his/her plan to key stakeholders and the executive team. Buy-in from this group is critical in order to insure success and cut out any inadvertent (or intentional) roadblocks.
  3. Avoid scope creep. Be clear on expected outcomes and timeframes. Manage the interim like you would any other employee to keep the work on track and the scope focused.
  4. Have the interim weigh-in (or not) on the external recruitment efforts, and possibly interview candidates as identified. His/her perspective can be valuable as to what is needed in the role and critical skills required by experiencing it firsthand.
  5. Create a wind-down period to tie up loose ends and transition the work. This involves communication with stakeholders, executive team, immediate reports and the successor.
  6. Retain the interim as a true consultant for the permanent hire to use as needed for the first 1-3 months. This creates a transition for the organization and ensures smooth transition for the work that was started.

Here are two general rules of the road for any interim executive:

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Do no harm: Leave the organization in a better place than when you came and transition the role seamlessly to your successor.

Do not get too attached to the role or the organization: When you have an alternative agenda of getting hired on permanently, the rules change. Avoid this potential conflict of interest as your judgment is no longer unbiased.

Cindy Milburn Lubitz is founder and managing director of inTalent Consulting Group, a national, human resources consulting firm that works with organizations of all sizes and complexity to assess and improve their talent acquisition and talent management results. She has served as an interim executive at Fortune 100 companies as well as mid-cap, regional firms. Cindy may be reached at Cindy Lubitz