The Difference Between a Consultant and an Interim Manager

The Difference Between a Consultant and an Interim Manager | HIRECONSULTING.COM

In the modern, fast-paced business environment, many companies find themselves having to change at an alarming rate. And, an interim manager may be just the solution they need.

Whether it’s a special project, company re-structuring, a factory re-location, or just the long-term absence of a key member of by the management, these problems can overwhelm an enterprise with limited resources.

Oftentimes, the answer is “interim management.”

Why Interim Management?

Many executives, who initially think they need a management consultant, ultimately decide to engage an interim manager.

The company can be assured of strict management and cost control over a highly skilled individual, a luxury they may not wish to fund permanently.

When the person goes, so does the cost. Assignments can be for 30 days to six months to one year or even longer.

Whether it’s a special project, company re-structuring, improved sales growth, a factory re-location, or just the long-term absence of a key member of the management, these problems can overwhelm an enterprise with limited resources.

A recent survey of 100 senior directors showed that 78% felt that interim managers offered clear advantages over management consultants.

Like Management Consultants, Interim Managers provide:

  • The latest thinking with “can-do” attitude
  • Short-term access to top management talent
  • Strategic capability
  • An independent eye
  • The ability to fast-track a critical project

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Unlike Management Consultants, Interim Managers are:

  • Implementers, as well as strategists, analysts, planners, trainers, mentors, coaches and outcome-based project managers
  • Loyal to your business objectives—not their consultancy’s objectives
  • Flexible to do what you need—not restricted to doing things the way their consultancy prescribes
  • Focused on your profitability—not their consultancy’s profitability (They do not have an incentive to sell in additional services companies may not need.)
  • More cost-effective for both parties
  • Non-threatening to existing employees (They are more team- and partner-friendly.)
  • Increase compatibility fit and could pave the way for a permanent role within the organization after the “Feels Right — Test Drive”

A classic Interim Manager’s profile might read:

  • Earlier career roles as a CEO, President, Entrepreneur, Executive Director or Senior Manager
  • Reasonably over-qualified for the assignment
  • Organized and adaptable
  • Results driven
  • Thrives on change
  • Enjoys freedom of “no strings” employment contracts
  • Has chosen Interim Management as a distinct career choice—it’s not a fill in between permanent roles!

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Major benefits for the client company include:

Availability — Getting an Interim Manager can be much quicker than permanent recruiting and Interims are often expected to ‘hit the ground running’ becoming very effective within the business very quickly.

High Value — An Interim Manager is often over-qualified for the role and brings a wealth of experience in a chosen discipline.

Low Risk — Every company inevitably has some politics at play. The Interim Manager stands aside from this and is quite simply results driven. There are no onerous employment agreements and contracts or expensive severance packages involved.

Special Skills — The Interim Manager will often bring key skills that the organization does not possess or would take a long time to cultivate organizationally or recruit permanently.

Good Hunting!


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Mark James, CPC is the President of Hire Consulting Services, established in 1999. He is a Certified Personnel Consultant and has been providing executive career transition coaching and executive recruiting services for over 25 years. Mark is also a Certified Partner with Predictive Index® Behavior Assessments focused on talent selection and leadership development.

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