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Why interim management boosts SMEs

Relief, fresh energy and competence

In our rapidly changing business world, companies are constantly facing new challenges. This is exactly where interim management shows its true value – not only in large corporations. You still hear the preconception that interim management is merely a luxury tool for multinational companies, but this perspective is outdated. Far from the clichés about gentlemen with mottled gray temples in expensive suits and high daily rates, today a multi-faceted industry presents itself: experts from a wide range of specialist areas, equipped with comprehensive expertise, a broad horizon of experience and a sense for effective solutions. Especially in medium-sized businesses, where the potential of interim management often seems to be unrecognized, it can become a key tool. I invite you to explore the versatility of interim management, put aside biases and discover why it may be an invaluable tool.

Interim management goes far beyond simply bridging vacancies

nterim Managers (IMs) act as active designers, sometimes even strategic architects, who make decisions and solve problems directly during ongoing operations.

Whether as a stopgap until the final staff member is on board, as a replacement on parental leave, as project manager, or as a “right-hand partner” to enrich resources or temporarily needed technical expertise – their reasons for deployment are manifold. Often, external managers take on tasks that involve a certain political sensitivity, where impartiality, clarity and diplomacy are required. Competent IMs combine new perspectives with strong implementation skills to ensure, together with the existing staff, that “things just work out”. And success? You can see it in clear operational indicators.

Die Rolle als Beraterin unterscheidet sich grundlegend von der einer Interim-Managerin

Both roles have their own validity and importance. Consultants bring the valuable outside perspective and deliver strategies and recommendations based on their analyses, without having direct responsibility for implementation. Interim managers, on the other hand, take on specific roles at the heart of the organization and thus contribute directly to value creation. Often with leadership responsibility, they are responsible for the realization of strategies and tangible results. With additional expertise in change management, interim managers can accelerate transformations in the shortest possible time because they do not merely implement measures at one point, but integrate them permanently into everyday life together with the people.

That is why I am delighted to take on interim mandates across the entire spectrum of HR management, be it in talent management, recruiting or employer branding. As an IM, I support teams and executives in their day-to-day business, remove stumbling blocks, act as a role model and lend a hand where needed. I work directly with the specialist groups and experts in the company and check which strategies are really successful. Not all consulting ideas are always practice-ready, however, with this insider perspective, I gain deep insights that refine my consulting approaches, make them feasible, and tailor them precisely to the needs of the business. Each mandate sharpens my understanding of the pitfalls of day-to-day operations and expands my range of solutions.

Vorteile des Interim-Managements

Deep integration into the organization and expertise:: Direct involvement in corporate activities enables IMs to penetrate internal processes and challenges in depth. Employees often know where the problem areas are, but they lack the leverage they need. This is where targeted "micro-interventions" make the difference on a day-to-day basis. Interim managers, integrated into the company dynamics, identify specific needs and develop effective solutions together with the teams on site. It's not just about looking good on paper - it's adjusted until it really works in practice.

Everyday competence & problem solving

IMs act like open-heart surgeons: They react promptly and precisely to problems without getting lost in sprawling PowerPoint presentations. It is often the supposedly small inconsistencies in a company that lead to challenges in their entirety. Problems deeply rooted in the operational DNA require direct intervention at the employee level. With their ability to make decisions directly on the store floor, interim managers achieve sustainable improvements. In constant exchange with management, they solve everyday hurdles – whether in spontaneous hallway conversations, through precise interventions in meetings, or through the immediate adjustment of priorities.

Empowerment of the team

In der Beratung spricht man oft darüber was wie warum zu tun ist. Aber der Teufel steckt im Detail der Umsetzung. Fähige Interim Manager:innen sehen sich als Entwickler und Mentoren. Durch den Aufbau vertrauensvoller Beziehungen und geschickte Teammoderation schaffen sie es, Menschen das Rüstzeug und das Selbstvertrauen zu geben, Herausforderungen selbstständig zu meistern – anstatt die Dinge nur besser zu wissen. Das wahre Kunststück im Interim Management ist es, das Team nicht nur anzuleiten, sondern es zu inspirieren und zu befähigen. Dabei steht der gemeinsame Spaß an der Entwicklung und das Erfolgserlebnis im Vordergrund, wenn wirkungsvolle, nachhaltige Lösungen Hand in Hand erarbeitet werden.

The value of a sparring partner

Interim managers combine a fresh perspective with insider knowledge and thus become irreplaceable allies for clients. Their objective distance makes it possible to critically question entrenched world views, while at the same time they know the operational framework and limits. Unburdened by internal power struggles and politics, they speak the unvarnished truth and at the same time, thanks to their diplomatic skills, create a safe space for overcoming challenges – both of a professional and personal nature.

Choosing the right interim manager

Agenturen und Interim Management Beratungen

Finding the right interim manager is an art that goes beyond the mere analysis of qualifications. It is essential not only to look at an impressive list of past projects, but to recognize the actual competence and fit for the specific challenge of the company. In this respect, networks and specialized agencies are more than simple intermediaries: they provide support in looking behind the scenes and identifying a candidate’s potential for the specific task, especially when things have to move quickly. In addition, they accompany the success of the mandate and, if necessary, provide advice as an insider third party. It’s a balancing act between experience, cultural fit and the ability to deliver real results in the given situation.

Folgende Kriterien zeichnen fähige Interim Manager:innen aus:

Fachliche Expertise und Methodenkompetenz

Interim managers are characterized by comprehensive expertise, which includes both technical tools and broad methodological competence. While specialized expertise stands for depth of content and attention to detail, methodological competence enables the correct application of this knowledge in different contexts. IMs skillfully maneuver between operational usefulness and the strategic needs of the business. In this way, they not only act as professional role models, but also ensure that corporate goals are in line with day-to-day operations and are implemented efficiently.

Understanding of strategy and business goals

A sound understanding of corporate strategy and objectives is essential to create holistic solutions. An interim manager must think beyond the specialist area and see the projects in the context of the entire company and the market. This is the only way to avoid the danger of isolated solutions that work in the short term but are not sustainable in the long term and could harm the company as a whole. The point is not just to optimize individual processes, but to always keep an eye on the big picture, and not to act according to the motto “operation successful, patient dead”.

Emotional competence

Rapidly building resilient relationships is critical to gaining trust with employees and stakeholders. It is essential to recognize and value the emotional needs of all stakeholders. Especially in tense situations, the ability to overcome contradictions and to approach conflicts in a solution-focused manner is crucial. An empathetic, yet clear and decisive approach is the key to successful trust work.

Synergies through systematic collaboration

In our complex world, success stands or falls with the quality of collaboration. It is not just about acting as a team, but above all about actively, consciously and effectively shaping overarching collaboration. This requires special competencies and the knowledge of methods to work without additional complexity or delays. Only when collaboration is not only demanded, but also skillfully encouraged, do real synergies and clout emerge.

Communication and facilitation skills

It is not enough to be right! In order to achieve real impact, the ability to both convey content in a comprehensible and graspable way and to moderate between different interest groups is crucial. The art of presenting complex issues concisely, bringing together different perspectives and facilitating effective collaboration is indispensable. Here, the talent to build bridges and reconcile the dialog is just as important as the methodical knowledge to lead exchanges of opinions in a goal-oriented way.

Promote decision-making dynamics

To be successful in an interim project, it is not enough to wait for decisions to be made, but understand how to actively initiate and drive the decision-making process. This means bringing together the right stakeholders, creating clarity and accelerating the achievement of consensus-based solutions without compromising on the quality of the decision. It is crucial that these decisions are sustainable and not questioned later.

Flexibility and compatibility

Flexibilität allein reicht nicht aus.

Just like an experienced sailor who adjusts his sails depending on the wind direction and strength, an IM must also react flexibly to the given framework conditions. What’s more: Just like two grandiose technical devices that provide no common benefit without a compatible interface, procedures and solution approaches must be ‘connectable’. They must fit harmoniously into the existing corporate structure. This means always having a deep understanding of the given structures and culture of the company in order to develop effective and integrated solutions.

Being humble and critical

As an interim manager, you act as a point of contact on key issues. To be humble is essential to appreciate the efforts and achievements of the team so far and to be aware that you are a learner in a new context first. There will always be critique. While a thick skin helps, a certain permeability is also required to accept criticism, to learn from it.

Personal responsibility & confidence

In muddled situations, when much has already been tried, the challenge is to identify the minimum room for maneuver. A deep sense of intrinsic ownership and the charisma of confidence are essential to credibly convey that more is always feasible than it seems at first glance and to energetically turn opportunities into results.

Success factors for effective and enjoyable collaboration

The harmonious cooperation and joint success in the collaboration with an interim manager are based on some essential cornerstones. First and foremost is close and trusting communication with the client. Through lively exchanges, both sides can share expectations, set common milestones and enjoy progress. Equally central is a clear understanding of the given conditions, so that everyone knows what they can build on. This includes defined resources, jointly defined goals and a clear timeframe. And last but not least, the interim manager should be granted reliable room for maneuver within which he:she can operate. With these three pillars – open communication, transparent framework conditions and defined room for maneuver – the cooperation can flourish and lead to mutual success.

Interim Management offers more than just a solution for personnel bottlenecks.

It is both a strategic and operational resource that enables sustainable change and helps companies realize their full potential.

The seemingly high daily rates have usually paid for themselves within the first few weeks. In a world of constant change, the integration of interim management can represent a significant competitive advantage. As an interim manager, I bring my heart and mind to the table. An open exchange is important to me. That is why I am always happy to receive feedback in order to achieve the best results together.

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