DISCOVER INTERIM MANAGEMENT
Why use interim management?
You can call on an interim manager to implement and support the transformation of a company.
This genuine managerial solution provides rapid access to expertise that will benefit the entire organisation.
Depending on the assignment, the interim manager will take on operational or functional responsibilities and make decisions that will enable the company to obtain a result agreed in advance.
This result can be: the implementation of a new organisation, the launch of a product, the realisation of a new investment, the acceleration of a project, the conclusion of partnerships, the assumption of responsibility for a major reorganisation, the management of a newly acquired company, as examples.
In all cases, the interim manager will have an operational approach; he or she is in the business of "doing" and not "advising" the company and aims to achieve a concrete and planned result.
What types of assignments should an interim manager be entrusted with?
In the past, interim management was reserved for assignments involving major reorganisations or even the rescue of companies in which the interim manager was involved.
Today, this situation still exists but it is very much in the minority. The interim manager is relevant in all business transformation assignments, both in operational and functional assignments.
For operational assignments, the interim manager has responsibilities as general manager, subsidiary director, business unit director, industrial site director, factory director, logistics and supply chain director, project director or purchasing director.
For functional assignments, the interim manager generally assumes responsibilities in two main areas: financial management and human resources management. He or she may be an administrative and financial director, management control director, consolidation director, credit management manager, internal control manager or shared service centre manager. The interim manager is often assigned to implement a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) within the company.
In the human resources sector, the interim manager may be the director of human resources, the director of a development programme or internal reorganisation, or the manager of a training project or a business transformation.
Other assignments have been developing rapidly in interim management over the last few years: marketing management assignments and sales management assignments which enable companies to rapidly strengthen their skills in order to develop their turnover. To be complete, more and more interim management assignments are linked to the digital transformation of companies: digital project manager, data management, data quality manager, data officer, data steward and other assignments linked to the management of the company's key data.
What is the purpose of an interim manager ?
An interim manager enables companies to access the skills and expertise they need very quickly. The interim manager is therefore a time accelerator for companies, which can draw on his experience gained in other companies.
Thanks to his immediate availability on the market, the interim manager will be able to start his assignment as soon as the client has decided.
Thanks to the experience he has acquired, the interim manager will be able to adapt very quickly to the context of the company, in just a few days, in order to be able to carry out his assignment.
Thanks to his highly operational approach, the interim manager will be able to take decisions on organisation, team motivation and training of his entire organisation to achieve the objectives agreed with the company.
Thanks to his clear positioning within the company, the interim manager will remain focused on his objectives, irrespective of power or title considerations, and will make objective decisions related to his interim management assignment.
Because of the limited duration of his assignment, the interim manager will ensure a transition with permanent solutions within the company. He will participate in the choice of his successor, train the teams and ensure that his skills are passed on to his successor internally.
When to use an interim manager ?
Any company can call on an interim manager when it needs to transform itself.
The transformation of the company may, for example, be linked to its growth, its national development, its international development, the acquisition of a new company or the launch of a new product.
On the other hand, in rarer cases, the transformation of the company may also be linked to its decline, its need to reorganise in order to reduce the size of its activities, to adjust its workforce, to dispose of certain activities or to limit its national or international geographical presence, for example.
Business transformation can also be linked to unforeseen external events, such as the recent COVID-19 or the Brexit. In a broader sense, it can also be a change in regulations, a decision by its customers, a decision by its partners, or an industrial accident. In these situations, the interim manager will be available immediately to help the company, in an operational manner, to meet its new challenges.
Finally, the transformation of companies can be linked to internal events: the unexpected departure of a manager, redundancies that have become necessary, the prolonged absence of a key skill or an organisation destabilised by decisions taken by the companies. In these situations, the interim manager will bring his or her experience acquired elsewhere in other companies to bear in managing crises and restoring meaning.
What are the advantages of using an interim manager?
A company that uses an interim manager will benefit from many advantages:
- It saves time for the company. He is a professional who is immediately available at a given moment. He or she will be able to work on the company's premises as soon as the decision is made to involve him or her.
- He is a gain of experience for the companies. As the interim manager has already held many responsibilities in other companies, he or she will bring all the experience already acquired to the new assignment.It is a gain in flexibility for the companies. His intervention in time is decided by the
- company that uses his services. After a firm period of at least 3 to 6 months, the duration of the assignment can be progressively extended at the request of the company.
- It is a gain of access to a network. Thanks to his previous experience, the interim manager has developed numerous contacts that are useful for carrying out his assignment. All these contacts can then be made available to the client company, which will benefit from them.
- It is a gain in peace of mind for the companies. In the vast majority of assignments, the professional retained has experience that goes beyond the needs identified by the company. This gives peace of mind that the objectives will be achieved, and often goes beyond the expectations of the clients.
- It brings with it the benefit of monitoring the assignment, when the assignment is carried out through an experienced interim management firm. The latter will in fact set up regular monitoring of the assignment. Periodic progress reviews will be carried out both with the company and with the manager on assignment. This makes it possible to adapt and adjust the assignment if necessary.
- Finally, the interim manager is a gain on the overall cost of access to skills. The notion of cost is often a factor of resistance to using an interim manager. The cost must be considered globally for the benefit of the companies that only pay for the service during the assignment phase. No entry costs, no exit costs, no hidden costs. The daily rate is calculated on the basis of the interim manager's experience, the duration of the assignment and includes the cost of the flexibility rightly requested by the company.
How long does an interim management assignment last?
An interim management assignment lasts a minimum of 4 to 6 months, and can last 18 to 24 months at the most.
The average duration of an assignment is 7 to 8 months. It should be noted that this duration has tended to increase in recent years.
For the client company, this minimum duration gives it the means to achieve the objectives agreed in advance.
For the interim manager, this minimum duration enables him to apply his experience and achieve the expected results.
There is no point in using an interim manager for less than three months, either for the company or for the manager.
The company will not be able to achieve its objectives for too short a period.
The interim manager will not be motivated, nor will he be able to develop his experience and will already be looking for a more engaging opportunity in the future.
For less than 3 months, other solutions such as a fixed-term contract are certainly possible, but this will not bring the advantages of an interim management assignment.
Maximum duration of an interim management assignment: between 18 and 24 months. Beyond the minimum duration, the client company can extend the assignment at its request in increments of 2 to 3 months in most cases.
A notice period of 30 days is generally provided to allow the interim manager to remain involved in the assignment.
After 24 months, it is rare for a management assignment to continue.
If the company still needs support, it generally sets up a recruitment or, by mutual agreement between the parties, the assignment is transformed into a direct recruitment by the client company.
Average duration of an interim management assignment: between 7 and 8 months. This duration allows the company to achieve the agreed objectives, and allows the interim manager to put in place all his or her skills in an operational manner that is useful to the client.
This average duration is tending to increase over time, it was 6 months two years ago. The average duration reflects the growing need of companies to find available skills to accompany their transformation in many areas and projects.
What is the difference with a fixed-term contract?
Interim management is different from a fixed-term contract (CDD) in several ways:
- The nature of the contract. An interim management assignment is concluded between two commercial companies, one representing the client company and the other the interim manager. The relationship is governed by the Commercial Code. A fixed-term contract (CDD) is concluded between an employer and an employee and the relationship is governed by the Labour Code.
- The hierarchical relationship. An interim manager remains an independent professional in relation to the company, beyond the commercial contract concluded between a service provider and a client. He is not dependent on the client company. An employee who has concluded a fixed-term contract, whatever his position within the company, even as a manager, remains subject to a hierarchical link within the company. As such, they are accountable to their employer and must submit to the company's directives.
- The nature of the objectives. The interim manager has objectives agreed in advance in the assignment contract that has been concluded. These are mainly commitments of means and the interim manager will do his best to meet his contract, at the risk of not meeting his commercial contract. The employee who has concluded a fixed-term contract is also subject to objectives specified in his employment contract, and he will make commitments as an employee, the risks of which are provided for and limited by the Labour Code.
- The nature of the commitment. The interim manager, acting within the framework of a commercial contract with a daily rate, will very generally devote much more than 8 hours a day to achieving his objectives. Being independent, he can go beyond the time constraints and adjust his daily time to the context of the assignment. The employee who has concluded a fixed-term contract is subject to both the Labour Code and the company's internal regulations. They must comply with the maximum working hours, the weekly and monthly working hours agreed with the social partners, and the rest and holiday periods provided for by the company. The interim manager is therefore much more flexible in terms of organisation than an employee on a fixed-term contract (CDD).
- The method of payment. The remuneration of an interim manager is based on a daily rate multiplied by the number of days actually worked. This remuneration is invoiced to the company, month by month, with details of the days worked, in the form of a commercial invoice to which value added tax (VAT) is added. The company will pay this invoice at the end of the payment period agreed with the interim management firm. The employee on fixed-term contract will be paid on a monthly basis, at the end of each month, and the company will be subject to all the employer and employee charges applicable to any other employee.
- The company's responsibility. In the context of an assignment, the company is bound by responsibilities limited to those set out in the contract, which are generally: access to information, access to premises, provision of operational resources and representation capacity. For an employee with a fixed-term contract, the company will assume all the responsibilities linked to its role as employer: safety, social protection, training, representation by staff bodies and others provided for by the Labour Code.
- The method of follow-up. The interim manager reports to the company on a regular basis, often monthly, with the involvement of the firm that commissioned him. These contractual milestones are documented in reports presented and reviewed with the client with the findings, recommendations and actions taken. These points have no impact on the remuneration of the contract, but rather ensure that the assignment is properly carried out. For an employee with a fixed-term contract, monitoring is carried out within the framework of an employment contract relationship, with systems of objectives and performance evaluation. Monitoring is carried out according to the company's HR processes with possible consequences on the increase of the remuneration or the total duration of the employment contract.
- The situation at the end of the contract. The end of an assignment contract is managed like a classic commercial relationship: the parties separate by mutual agreement at the end of the contractual period without any exit costs. The company only has to pay the invoices for the assignment until the last day of the assignment. For an employee with a fixed-term contract, the end of the employment contract implies the payment of acquired holiday entitlements, and of the end-of-contract indemnity of 10% of the gross salary over the whole period and of all the employer's social security charges. The company will also have to comply with the procedures for informing the employee and not renewing several fixed-term contracts, beyond the maximum number provided for by the Labour Code, at the risk of seeing the fixed-term contract transformed into an open-ended contract (CDI) without wanting to Post-contract ambitions.
- The ambition of an interim manager is very often to take on another assignment after the one he has completed for a client. As an independent professional, he or she does not usually have the ambition to remain with the company via an employee contract. For an employee with a fixed-term contract, the employment situation is precarious because it is limited in time, and the employee usually has the ambition to enter into a permanent contract (CDI). The prospects of an employee on a fixed-term contract are therefore very different from those of an interim manager, and he will do his best to achieve this objective, within this company or another.
What is the difference with a permanent contract?
Interim management is different from a permanent contract in several respects:
- The nature of the engagement. The interim manager is hired by a company under a service contract. The contract is governed by the Commercial Code and the parties are independent, linked simply by the contractual agreements made. The employee with a permanent contract is employed under an employment contract, the relationship between the parties is governed by the Labour Code, the company's internal regulations and the agreements concluded with the staff representative bodies.
- The relationship between the parties. An interim manager remains, for the duration of the assignment, a service provider independent of the company. The manager retains his organisational and time management autonomy and his ability to make independent decisions. The employee with a permanent contract is subject to the company's hierarchy. Even in the case of a general management function, the employee with a permanent contract remains dependent on an authority within the employing company.
Remuneration. The interim manager is remunerated in the form of invoices for services, with the amount depending directly on the number of days worked. The invoice is usually issued monthly, with the amount excluding tax plus the applicable value added tax. The employee with an open-ended contract is paid a monthly salary, with periodic elements that may vary according to performance. In addition, the company pays all the employer's charges and associated social costs: training, company savings plan, profit-sharing and others provided for in the company agreements.
- The end of the contract. An interim manager's assignment contract naturally ends once the contractual term has been reached. Unless an extension has been agreed by mutual consent between the parties, the contract ends and there are no resulting costs beyond the payment of the invoices due.
- The employee with an open-ended contract can terminate the employment contract by resigning and must give notice, usually within three months. The company wishing to terminate an open-ended contract must comply with all the provisions of the Labour Code and, in all cases, must pay out acquired rights (leave, training, variable parts, etc.) and carry out administrative procedures which can be cumbersome. In the event of a non-consensual separation, the end of an open-ended contract can lead to disputes in the industrial tribunal system, which are long, risky and difficult to manage for all parties.
How to find your interim manager ?
Companies that want to find an interim manager have several options:
I activate my direct contacts. This is the simplest solution that every manager can legitimately think of when they need an interim manager. Easy and potentially quick to implement, it is limited by the nature of the manager's own network, which may not include the best experts that the company may need.
I activate my employees' networks. This option notably broadens the spectrum of the search for profiles, and involves the teams in the search for a common solution. The limit of the exercise is linked to the possible influence of this or that employee, with a view to actively proposing his or her contacts, which may or may not prove to be relevant. The interim manager who is retained by this method may have a moral debt, at least, to the employee who put him/her in contact, which may result in a constraint on the independence of the assignment.
I am publishing an advertisement. It is possible to publish an advertisement on your professional website or on social networks. Beware of the undesirable effects that may result internally or externally. Internally, questions from employees surprised by the search, who were not informed beforehand or who consider their skills relevant to the need. Externally, the over-mediatisation of the search for skills by clients or competitors: why do they have this need, are there any unknown risks? Externally too, the risk of having to manage a large number of inappropriate or opportunistic responses, and thus losing precious time for the company.
I go through my internal human resources organisation. This solution is possible, but not the most appropriate in all cases. Indeed, a company's HR teams may have other priorities to manage, and above all, a timetable for implementation that is too long in relation to the urgent need. Depending on the profile sought, it is advisable to seek the opinion of the company's HR teams, generally to support the choice of operational staff from their networks or the proposals of candidates from an interim management firm.
I go through an interim management firm. This is the solution that more and more companies are using to find the best manager available at a given time. The main advantage is that you benefit from the widest possible network of professionals and at the same time from the experience of a company whose main business is this. The interim management firm will generally propose several candidates, in the form of a shortlist, after having carried out a wide-ranging search within its networks. The advantage of the interim management firm is that it will also have carried out its own selection and qualification processes for managers before presenting them to the company.
How a mission is carried out ?
An interim management assignment generally consists of several key stages:
- The launch of the assignment. This stage is essential to enable the interim manager to succeed in the assignment he or she will have to carry out. At the outset, the company informs the parties involved in the assignment of the manager's role: his or her responsibilities, objectives, the teams he or she will be leading and the expected duration of his or her intervention. The manager is not always presented as being "on assignment", but sometimes as "having an assignment" for the company. This subtlety often helps to avoid internal resistance to change.
- The surprise report. Shortly after the start of the assignment, and at the latest within 30 calendar days, the interim manager presents the company with his or her surprise report. This astonishment report will provide the company with an independent and useful perspective through its fresh eyes, its acquired experience and the practice of transformation assignments. The astonishment report will serve as a reference and a common thread for future transformations throughout the duration of the interim management assignment.
Quick wins. In the first 30 days of his intervention, the interim manager will endeavour to identify simple and rapid measures to be implemented but with a strong impact for the benefit of the company. The objective is to guarantee rapid success in order to make a mark and develop confidence within the client company.
- Regular check-ins. One of the characteristics and strengths of an assignment is that regular progress reviews are held between the client, the interim manager and the interim management firm. Often on a monthly basis, these tripartite meetings enable the achievement of objectives to be monitored, priorities to be adjusted according to the context and experience to be shared throughout the assignment.
- The transition with the internal teams. An important stage for an interim manager is to organise the continuation of the activities he or she has developed in the company after the end of the assignment. This transition involves the recruitment or promotion of an employee of the company, training, gradual support, and the transfer of useful know-how and interpersonal skills to the successor. A successful interim management assignment is one that has successfully organised its replacement by an internal company solution.
- The end-of-assignment report. Before leaving for other adventures, the interim manager will have taken care to prepare and present his end-of-assignment report. This report will include the key dates of the intervention, the context of the intervention, a reminder of the objectives, the results obtained and a list of lessons learned and recommendations for the client company.
What is the contractual organisation of an assignment ?
An interim management assignment is, contractually, a service provision with an obligation of means between several independent parties. When the assignment is concluded via an interim management firm, two contracts are concluded: a contract between the client company and the interim management firm, and a contract between the interim management firm and the interim manager.
The commercial contract between the client company and the interim management firm:
This is the one and only contract concluded with the end client and it specifies all of the following terms: objectives, firm duration, optional duration, name of the manager made available, contacts within the company, places of intervention, assignment costs, daily rate and confidentiality terms. The interim management company also specifies the name of the assignment director who will monitor the assignment, in direct contact with the client company and the interim manager.
The contract between the interim management firm and the interim manager:
This contract can take several forms depending on the status of the manager:
He/she has a company: a contract for the provision of services is concluded and the manager takes over the objectives, in a back to back manner, of the contract concluded with the client;
He/she does not have a company, he/she is an employee and wishes to remain so: a wage portage contract is concluded and the manager will receive a monthly salary/
Whatever the status of the interim manager, it remains transparent for the client company, which has only one contractual interlocutor: the interim management firm.
What is the status of the interim manager during the assignment ?
When an assignment has been concluded by a client company using an interim management firm, the interim manager remains independent of the client for the duration of the assignment.
The interim manager is under direct contract with the interim management company that commissioned him. His status is one of the following:
He is a self-employed entrepreneur and invoices his services. The interim manager may have self-employed status and, as such, conclude an assignment contract. In this case, his invoices are not subject to VAT and he will declare the taxes and other social deductions directly on his turnover. It should be noted that this situation is not recommended and is rare for experienced managers, except when starting out as an interim manager before setting up a company.
He has a commercial company in the form of an SAS (Société par Actions Simplifiée), SA (Société Anonyme) or SARL (Société A Responsabilité Limitée) and invoices his services. He is the contractual subcontractor of the interim management company. He invoices monthly for the assignment fees, the daily amount of which, excluding tax, has been agreed in advance. The company is subject to value added tax, which is added to the daily amount invoiced.
He is neither a self-employed entrepreneur nor a commercial company and wishes to remain an employee: a freelance administration contract is then concluded and he receives a net salary every month, plus social security charges and income tax. At the end of the assignment, the employee receives a balance sheet to terminate the employment contract. It should be noted that the freelance administration contract can be either a Fixed Term Contract (FTC) or a Permanent Contract (PC) depending on the duration of the assignment. The boundary between a fixed-term contract and an open-ended contract is often linked to the minimum duration of the assignment, which may be more or less than 6 months.
What is the advantage for the client company that uses an interim management firm ?
Whatever the final status of the interim manager is, it is transparent and without consequences for the client company. Its only contractual interlocutor remains the interim management company, thus avoiding all the administrative, fiscal and social aspects of managing the interim manager's status.
What is the cost of an interim management assignment?
The cost of an interim management assignment is directly linked to the number of days that will have been provided by an interim manager, multiplied by the daily rate excluding tax that will have been agreed between the parties.
The daily rate is the essential element of an interim management assignment. So how does it work? It comprises the following elements:
The gross daily salary of the interim manager, reduced to a daily rate;
The employer's social security charges linked to the gross salary, also calculated on a daily basis;
A risk premium, generally between 30% and 50%, linked to the non-productive time between several assignments. For the companies, this premium is the counterpart of the immediate availability of the interim manager when they need him at a given moment;
A management fee, charged either by the interim manager or by the interim management company: this covers administrative costs, invoicing, assignment follow-up, candidate selection and shortlist preparation and includes a profit margin in all cases.
Whether it is the interim manager directly or the interim management firm, the management fee always includes a risk remuneration component, and therefore a legitimate profit margin in any commercial relationship.
To optimise the cost of an interim management assignment, several solutions are possible:
The longer the duration of the assignment, the more competitive the daily rate can be;
The more the organisation of the interim management firm is oriented towards lean management, the more likely it is to have limited structural costs and thus to benefit its clients.
Using an interim management firm allows companies to have more competitive rates. Indeed, thanks to the knowledge of the market that these firms have, they ensure a role of facilitator between the 3 parties concerned. That is, the client company, the interim manager and the firm itself. It is not uncommon to find that the rate charged to the company is lower when using an interim management firm.
Can the interim manager be recruited at the end of an assignment ?
Several years ago, this question would not have arisen so clearly: the interim manager intervenes mainly to turn around a company in serious difficulty, or to stop its activities if necessary.
Today, the interim manager is increasingly used for business transformation assignments: growth, reorganisation, new projects, systems implementation, international development, performance optimisation and many other projects. As a result, companies that use an interim manager may wish to retain or recruit him or her at the end of the assignment in order to perpetuate his or her skills for the benefit of the company.
So can the client company recruit the interim manager at the end of an assignment?
The answer is yes, provided that :
This has been provided for in the contract between the parties: client company, interim management firm and interim manager. This request generally comes from the company, at the start of the assignment, which wishes to open up this possibility and have this flexibility.
The company decides to do this, because it is the company that has the option of activating this option in the interim management contract.
The interim manager agrees to change his status from service provider to employee. This agreement is not always obtained, despite the attraction of a permanent contract (CDI), because the interim manager often wishes to retain his independence for the variety of his assignments.
The interim management company has included this option in its contract with the client company. This puts an end to the billing of the assignment and, in practice, gives rise to the billing of a contractual end-of-assignment indemnity.
This transformation of the interim management assignment contract into a permanent contract (CDI) is often possible after a minimum assignment duration of 6 to 9 months depending on the contracts concluded.
The great advantage for the company is that it has access to a professional with skills, who is experienced and has already proved his or her worth in the form of an assignment, without taking any risk on the "FIT" with its needs.
At FIT in NETWORK®, we have observed that since 2020, one mission in four has been transformed into a request for recruitment on a permanent contract by companies. As this percentage is tending to increase, it could reflect a real transformation of the job market in the years to come!
Can we stop a mission in progress ?
An interim management assignment is carried out within the framework of a service contract between two companies, the client company and the interim management company (the firm). Like all contracts, it contains clauses in terms of firm durations, possible extensions and termination in certain cases provided for in the contract.
Among the cases of early termination of an interim management assignment, it is possible to foresee several situations:
Prolonged and unjustified absence of the interim manager: this situation may result from illness, accident or the voluntary departure of the manager on assignment;
Failure to meet the agreed objectives: this situation may be difficult to justify in the context of an obligation of means provided for in the assignment contract;
Failure to comply with the conditions of confidentiality laid down in the contract: through exchanges with third parties or through communication beyond the agreements made;
Significant changes in the client's organisation that would make the assignment irrelevant or inappropriate: new strategy, termination of a project, external event preventing access to the location where the assignment is to be carried out, such as a health crisis.
In all these situations, the engagement contract may include clauses for early termination of the contract, always with prior information and exchange between the parties.
When the assignment is concluded with an interim management company, the latter often undertakes to replace the interim manager assigned to the assignment within a maximum of 8 to 15 days. This will be the case, for example, if the interim manager is absent, does not perform satisfactorily or does not respect the rules of confidentiality.
This situation, although very rare in practice, is nevertheless possible and the client company will in this case have an advantage in working with an experienced interim management firm rather than concluding a contract directly with a manager.
How to extend a current assignment ?
An interim management assignment, as a service contract, always includes a start date and an assignment duration.
The duration of the assignment can be agreed in several variants:
A firm, non-extendable term: this situation is rare because it does not provide the flexibility sought by the client company;
A firm duration, plus one or more optional durations: this situation is the most frequent and the one requested in most contracts by the client company.
The minimum firm duration of an interim management assignment is generally between 4 and 6 months.
The optional durations agreed upon are often additional periods of 2 months each time. The client company benefits from this option and can activate it, generally by giving the interim management company at least 30 days' notice.
It should be noted that the interim management company must also secure the agreement of the interim manager from the start of the assignment in a direct contract with him. This contract contains the same terms and contractual dates as the contract concluded with the end client and the interim management company.
What happens if the manager on assignment is not suitable ?
It may happen that the interim manager is not suitable for the assignment in the end. This situation is rare, but possible, and the solution depends on the parties involved.
If the assignment has been agreed between the client company and the interim management company: the latter undertakes to replace the defaulting manager. This replacement, provided for in a clause in the assignment contract, is generally carried out within 8 to 15 working days maximum.
If the assignment has been concluded between the client company and the interim manager directly, it must terminate the service contract. The client company must therefore respect the minimum duration, the termination clauses in the contract or "negotiate" an amicable end to the contract with the defaulting interim manager. Once the contract has ended, the company will then have to organise itself to find a replacement, either directly or by calling on a company specialising in interim management.
What happens if the manager on mission falls ill or fails ?
The interim manager is a woman or a man, so he or she can also fall ill or have an accident and therefore become unavailable to carry out the assignment.
In this case, two main situations can arise for the client company:
The client company has concluded an assignment contract with an interim management company. The latter has very generally undertaken in its contract to replace the interim manager within a maximum of 8 to 15 working days. This period allows the best available candidate to be identified on the market to continue the assignment at short notice.
The client company has concluded a direct assignment contract with an interim manager. In this case, it is up to the company to find another professional itself, or to entrust the search to an interim management firm this time.
What is the role of the interim management firm ?
The interim management firm is a guarantor of the success of an assignment; it provides the link between the client company and the interim manager.
Prior to any assignment, the interim management firm discusses with the client company to fully understand its needs in terms of skills. The essential points specified in this phase are: the context of the intervention, the origin of the skills need, the objectives of the interim management assignment, the duration of the support, the expected transformation, the target organisation of the company at the end of the intervention.
Based on the expression of this need, the interim management firm qualifies the profile sought by specifying its experience, skills and sectoral knowledge and can launch a targeted search.
The interim management firm will look for experts who are immediately available, who meet the criteria of skills, sectoral experience, functional experience and who are capable of meeting the company's challenges. The search for profiles is carried out first and foremost in the direct networks of the firm, its associates and its partners: wage portage companies, outplacement firms, professional coaching companies and others. The profile search can be completed by targeted communication on the firm's website and on its professional social networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook pro or other dedicated sites.
The objective of the interim management firm is to quickly qualify, in just a few days, competent and immediately available interim management professionals. The qualification process involves interviews, reference checks and the conclusion of confidentiality agreements in order to be presented to the client.
The firm presents the shortlist to its client, generally between 2 and 4 experts capable of accompanying the company. The client then decides on the number of experts selected for interviews. The interviews are generally tripartite: representatives of the company, the expert and the firm, and are mainly intended to verify the best "FIT" with the company's culture. The company then makes its choice, in the form of a list of priorities, and entrusts the interim management firm with the task of concluding the agreements between all parties.
Following discussions to clarify the objectives, the duration of the assignment, the expected results and the daily rate, two contracts are concluded:
a first service contract between the company and the firm ;
a second contract between the interim manager and the firm, which is transparent for the client company and which takes the form of either a service subcontract or a wage portage contract.
Throughout the assignment, the firm then carries out regular reviews, monthly in most cases. The tripartite meetings throughout the assignment make it possible to ensure that the transformation objectives are progressing and, if necessary, to adjust them according to the company's context.
The interim management firm is the contractual guarantor of the achievement of the results and, if necessary, is able to replace the interim manager if he is unavailable or does not satisfy the company.
At the end of the assignment, the firm stays and ensures that the expected transformation has been achieved and that the transfer of skills has taken place between the manager and the company's internal resources.
Why use an interim management firm ?
The interim management firm saves time for the company looking for a skill, and gives access to a very large network of experts available at a given time on the market.
By entrusting its search to a firm, the company will be able to clearly express its needs in terms of transformation, reorganisation or even restructuring of the company and to explain its projects.
It is then up to the interim management firm, thanks to its experience, to translate these needs into an expert profile to support the company's transformation in an operational manner.
The firm performs several important and useful functions for the company: qualification of the need, rapid and targeted search for immediately available skills, drawing up a shortlist of experts, participation in client interviews, conclusion of contracts and monitoring of the assignment.
Throughout the assignment, the firm appoints an assignment director who is the contact person for both the client company and the interim manager. His role is to ensure that the transformation objectives are achieved, and to receive and pass on the right messages to all parties.
The qualities expected of an interim management firm include transparency in the sharing of information, responsiveness, listening skills, experience acquired on comparable assignments, and the ability to communicate rapidly with the client and the interim manager.
Who are the interim managers in 2021 ?
Interim managers in 2021 are :
For the most part, men will account for 75% to 80% of assignments. The proportion of women is still insufficient, at 20% to 25%, even though it has tended to increase in recent years.
Professionals with at least 15 years of professional experience. This minimum experience is necessary to be able to be operational very quickly and to allow the company to benefit from the skills acquired.
Generally aged between 45 and 65.
They are part of several professional networks, both to stay connected to the business environment and to develop several channels for assignment opportunities.
They have already changed companies several times in their previous professional life. What might be considered a risk of instability for an employee then becomes a real quality for an interim manager. So many changes correspond to so much accumulated experience, a source of adaptability for interim management assignments.
They have strong personalities, they are capable of convincing, arguing and passing on messages to their clients and the teams they manage. This quality is essential for achieving results in the assignments carried out.
They are committed to maintaining a balance between their professional and personal lives. They organise themselves to reconcile the two dimensions and take this into account when choosing a new assignment.
They are mobile, nationally of course, but more and more so on a European scale, and are able to move very quickly to start a new assignment.
They often have an international background. They may have already worked abroad, and some of them have lived with their families abroad and consider their professional environment to be international.
Increasingly, we are seeing senior people wanting to use their skills as interim managers after working for many years in companies and large groups. This is due to the fact that companies are lightening their age pyramid from the top and letting go of very experienced and therefore relevant profiles for assignments.
We also note that younger and younger profiles, some as young as 40, are deciding to use their skills as interim managers. This is due to the fact that the new generation wants to be more autonomous and independent. The new generation of interim managers wants to develop themselves while retaining authority over their career path.
What are the skills and qualities of the interim manager in 2021 ?
The interim manager in 2021 must be able to draw on a number of skills and qualities to succeed in his or her assignments:
Adaptability and responsiveness. To be able to adapt quickly to a new company, a new organisation and therefore a new assignment.
Professional flexibility. To be able to change professional sectors, while contributing one's experience, skills and capacity for transformation to the benefit of companies.
The ability to listen and communicate. To be able to listen to all stakeholders, to take into account the company's issues and priorities in order to communicate effectively throughout the assignment.
Geographical mobility. Each new assignment may be identified far from the interim manager's home, nationally or internationally. Consequently, mobility is a necessary and indispensable quality for any expert who wishes to carry out interim management assignments.
The ability to motivate and train teams. Knowing how to motivate and train your teams is a necessary quality for any executive. These skills are all the more necessary for a manager on an assignment because he or she will have to do it quickly and without wasting time.
Understanding complex environments. When a manager is involved in an assignment within a national or international group, he or she must manage both hierarchical and functional relationships. These relationships can be national and international.
Decision-making ability. Every interim manager must, at some point, accompany the transformation of the company in which he is on assignment. In this respect, he or she must take major managerial decisions on organisation, reorganisation or restructuring in certain cases.
A sense of responsibility. An interim management assignment is very often carried out with obligations of means. Despite this, the manager must be able to take on hierarchical and functional responsibilities. He or she must be able to take major decisions on projects that are sometimes strategic for the client company.
What is the training of an interim manager ?
It is above all a professional's experience that enables him or her to become an interim manager, not his or her initial training or qualifications. Relevant professional experience must include several characteristics:
The diversity of the sectors of activity and companies in which the professional has worked. The more changes there are, the more useful the experience gained will be for interim management assignments.
The diversity in the size of the companies. Having worked in large groups, in small and medium-sized companies (SMEs, SMIs) and in family companies will be a plus for the expert.
An international background, at least in several European countries. Proof of professional experience in several countries is an important asset and a guarantee of the ability to adapt to several cultures.
Expertise in at least one sector of activity. Having worked in several companies is a must, mastering a particular sector is an additional asset.
Expertise in at least one specific function. Being recognised as a specialist in ERP implementation, a specialist in digital transformation, a specialist in consolidation, a specialist in industrial logistics, a specialist in large infrastructure projects or a specialist in the management of SMEs in the mechanical industry, for example, are all assets for becoming an interim manager.
A good command of English is essential, even in a Franco-French company, as most of them have international customer or supplier contacts. Mastery of any other language is obviously a real asset for the expert.
Having at least 15 years of professional experience is important for any interim manager. This enables them to acquire and justify the managerial skills that are essential for the successful completion of future assignments.
Expertise in the management of multidisciplinary teams. It is rare that an interim manager does not lead teams; on the contrary, he or she often has an operational supervisory role.
How to become an interim manager ?
In addition to these key skills acquired throughout one's professional career, there are also a number of additional training courses that can be taken to gain faster access to interim management assignments. Possible training courses include the following:
Audencia Executive Education launched a Transition Manager Certificate in 2016: 16 days of training over an 8-month period;
The Institut de Formation au Management de Transition (IFMT) has launched since 2019 a Passport for new managers, and a Certificate for interim managers who have already completed at least two assignments;
Since 2018, LCA Performances Ltd has also launched a regional training course for interim managers: over 3 days and about 20 hours in two major cities, Paris and Nantes:
Since 2019, the Mobility and Careers Centre of the University of Paris Dauphine has developed training workshops for interim managers.
Thanks to the professional experience acquired, the know-how and the interpersonal skills of an expert, possibly supplemented by specific training, it is thus possible to become an excellent interim manager.