It’s good to know that companies are seeing performance gains when they bring in the right interim executive with specific goals and expectations. In my experience the testimonials in this video are more the rule than the exception when companies use interim or temporary executives for driving key initiatives.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Management consultants of all stripes should be in the executive’s arsenal of problem-solving weapons. However, before reaching for the phone next time you need objective advice, crisp analysis, extra horsepower, and a fresh dose of best practices I encourage you to consider an alternative to consultants — the interim executive.
Interim executives, temporary executives, fractional executives — whatever term you use — usually offer several advantages to consulting firms if you’re only needing one or two people rather than an entire team.
- Experience. Typically, interim executives have already had stellar careers in industry and have chosen the freelance life style. They have book smarts and street smarts earned over careers spanning 20 or more years.
- Leadership. Temporary executives have led teams, departments, business units and companies. Many have started companies and have taken them through an IPO or M&A process. They literally work shoulder to shoulder with the management team.
- Allegiance. When an interim executive is on board with you they report to you and no one else. They don’t have a senior partner in a tower downtown urging them to increase billable hours.
- Get ‘er done yesterday. Temporary executives are accustomed to stepping into companies, quickly assessing the situation, rolling up their sleeves and making happen whatever needs to happen. By nature they are men and women of action who are self-driven to get results. They specialist in delivering results not reports.
- Cost. As a general rule you’ll get more bang for the buck from an interim executive than you will from a consulting firm. A senior-level consultant working for a firm will easily bill at $2,000 – $4,000 per day. Built into that day rate, of course, is the firm’s overhead and profit. Therefore, you’re not really getting a $2,ooo person, you’re more likely getting an $800 person, who bills at $2,000. When you hire an interim at, say, $2500 per day, you’re bringing on board someone who is really worth $2500 a day to you.
“Leadership On Demand . . .” is a book I co-authored with Paul Travis in 2008 and today it still stands as the preeminent guide for how to effectively use interim executives. The book’s content can be viewed here: http://www.slideshare.net/cbesondy/leadership-on-demand
With all the uncertainty that persists in the U.S. business environment companies remain loath to add full-time employees (FTE), especially in marketing and sales. Unfortunately, staff levels in these two departments are still at all-time lows following the cut-backs of 2008 and 2009.
For CEO’s one answer to generating revenue, capturing market share, keeping overhead in check, and remaining highly nimble is the smart use of interim managers in marketing and sales.
On the other side of the coin, for seasoned marketing or sales veterans with solid credentials who find themselves “in transition”, starting a new career as an interim executive just might be the right move.
Our book, “Leadership On Demand” is a good reference. I invite you to check it out.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
For any company in an economic downturn, after slashing employees to reduce their overhead there follows a sobering moment of clarity. “How is the work going to get done? We just let go the only people that really knew how to do this (whatever “this” is) really well!”
I propose that interim management is an excellent solution, especially when the new gap is in a highly-skilled management role (as opposed to a low-skilled bureaucratic role).
So, the company can’t afford a FTE as head of marketing. Fine. Bring in a perfectly suited interim marketing executive for a couple days a week.
I had coffee with a former client last week. He had just been laid off. The company he had worked for needed to slash overhead due to the rapid economic decline. They let go the head of marketing and the product manager, electing to leave untouched a small department of marketing specialists. Who is managing this group, you might ask? They now report to a director of business development with no marketing experience whatsoever.
Cut backs are agonizing decisions and I’m not second-guessing the decision to swing the axe at the higher salaried managers first. However, what is to become of this very effective marketing group without skilled leadership? Imagine what just two days a week of expert marketing leadership could provide.
Something tells me this story is being repeated again and again all around the world. Interim managers, let us put on our capes and save the day.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The cover story of the March issue of Inc Magazine was about Zipcar, an innovative company that specializes in renting cars by the hour to its members. It’s a very attractive concept for city dwellers and students who don’t need a car every day and may not have a safe and affordable place to park a car even if they had one.
When you need a car to run errands or for a day-trip to the country just reserve a Zipcar. Pay for what you use. Transportation on demand.
In the same week that I read this article I spoke with a company, eVapt, that has developed a better way to meter software as a service (SaaS). The growth curve of Saas applications is impressive. No wonder. The technology allows companies to pay for how much they use of a particular software application. Use a lot, pay more; use infrequently, pay less. Makes sense. Software on demand.
So, when a company looks at its marketing and sales resources and sees that there are a few gaps why aren’t those gaps being immediately filled with managers on demand?
Too often I see companies let a vacancy in a key position go unfilled for months while the recruiting process grinds along. The smart move is to put an interim executive in the position and keep the momentum going until the perm hire can step in.
Then there’s the case of the gap in critical skills or bandwidth for a mission-critical initiative. Why aren’t more companies being honest with themselves about what their current staff can and can’t do during the time period? And we wonder why product launch dates are missed or compromised. Evaluate where special skills and experience are needed and add a seasoned interim manager to the team.
Using interim management resources today seldom is an indication that a company is in trouble. It means companies are being really smart about resource allocation. Alas, old perceptions are slow to change.
We look at customers who use Zipcar and say, “Good thinking. Use a car whenever you need it, but only pay for what you use.” We see companies that save millions of dollars a year by adopting SaaS instead of traditional software licensing. We think, “Wow, those guys are really using their cash wisely.”
What do you think when a company, perhaps your own, considers an interim management solution?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
About 12 months ago I saw the need for a book that would enlighten CEO’s on the strategic use of interim managers in Marketing and Sales. With the help of co-author, Paul Travis, and editor, Theresa Heath, we interviewed top executives who had experience with interims and wrote our book. Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue is now available in paperback and eBook. We self-published the title using the latest in print-on-demand technology and eBook technology. We’re selling the book directly from our site and through book resellers . The news announcement appears below and can also be viewed here.
Management’s Antidote for Turbulent Times
New Book Sheds Light on Practice of Using Interim Managers in Marketing and Sales
March 28, 2008, Austin, Texas. What is the little-known secret some CEO’s use to keep employment costs down while maintaining growth strategies during uncertain economic conditions? The answer involves the prudent use of interim or on-demand managers within their Marketing and Sales departments, according to the authors of Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue.
Although companies are familiar with using interim or on-demand executives to fill temporary gaps in HR, IT and Finance departments the new book provides fresh insight and best practices on how to use interim, “just-in-time” talent to impact the revenue engine of their organization—Marketing and Sales.
The authors contend that too many companies have allowed temporary gaps in Marketing and Sales leadership to retard their revenue performance. The gaps occur in three areas: a key management position is vacant for more than a month, a critical set of required skills is missing in the organization, or there’s a shortage of management time to accomplish an important business initiative.
“This topic is one of great importance to our economy and society. The chapters do a good job of identifying the general trends that would lead a company to consider the utilization of an interim manager,” said John Mavers, First Vice President, Washington Mutual Bank.
Through its 14 chapters the book shows CEO’s how to identify when interim management should be considered, how to structure an engagement, how to socialize the solution within the organization, how to justify the fee, etc. The book includes interviews from CEO’s, COO’s and Board members who share their experiences and insights about the prudent use of on-demand leaders in small and large organizations.
Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue is published by LOD Publishing, LLC and can be ordered from www.leadership-on-demand.com or http://www.Amazon.com. The suggested retail price is $28.95 plus shipping and handling. The title is available in both paperback and eBook formats.
About the authors
The authors and editor of the book have over 75 years combined sales and marketing management experience primarily in high tech, pharmaceutical and medical device sectors.
Charles Besondy, author. After a career holding marketing leadership positions for small high-tech companies in Washington State and Texas, Besondy began his consulting and interim management practice in Austin in 2001. He has conducted interim management assignments for a range of companies, such as a Web start-up, a computer manufacturer, s professional sports franchise, and a large financial services vendor. Regarded as an authority on the topic of interim management for marketing functions he is co-author of the book, Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue. His blog on the same topic, One Riot – One Ranger, is a popular source of insight and leading-edge thinking on the topic of interim management.
Paul Travis, author. Having managed a team of 10 and a budget of $5 million as a Vice President of Marketing for a publicly traded internet security company, after executive roles in foodservice to software publishing, Travis made the move into consulting. He has served in both project and interim capacities primarily in branding, product marketing, and launching new offerings – for technology, food/beverage, and manufacturing clients situated between British Columbia and the Midwest United States. In addition to his capacity as President of the Institute of Management Consultants – Pacific Northwest Chapter, he serves on the board of two privately held companies. His blog, www.60-Second-Marketing.com, features educational insights around snapshots of “hits and misses” in the marketing world.
Theresa Heath, editor. With over 25 years of experience, Ms. Heath is an innovative leader skilled in creating and implementing business development plans that reinvigorate sales teams and grow new products and markets. A strategist with a global and conceptual perspective, Ms. Heath approaches problem-solving in a relational and holistic manner by utilizing experience, intuition and knowledge to craft fresh and imaginative solutions. Heath is a versatile executive with both sales and marketing expertise in the healthcare and technology sectors, with a particular emphasis on bringing new technology successfully to market and exceeding company goals. Her background and flexibility serve her well in consulting, particularly in sales turnaround situations, developing new markets and new product commercialization.
Title: Leadership On Demand
Subtitle: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue
Authors: Charles Besondy, Paul Travis
Editor: Theresa Heath
ISBN: 978-0-9802035-1-6 (paperback), 978-0-9802035-0-9 (eBook)
Category: Business Management
Length: 112 pages
Retail price: $28.95
Binding: 6”x9” trade paperback
eBook platform: Requires PDF reader software
Illustration: Charts and tables
Additions: Case studies, resources, survey, Website for the book’s readers is http://www.leadershipondemand-book.comRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
By Charles Besondy
Depending on the political slant of your favorite news source the U.S. is either falling into recession or experiencing a mere speed bump. Everyone can agree the economy has taken it on the chin lately. The undertow caused by defaults of sub prime mortgages is still threatening to pull some financial companies under. The record high price of oil is having an inflationary impact on nearly everything we buy. The value of the dollar is at record low levels compared to the Euro. Swings of 100-200 points a day on the NYSE is common place. Unemployment is still relatively low, however, and inflation is in check (at least for now).
These are unnerving times for executives responsible for driving their business plans forward no matter the head wind. Revenue forecasting, always a challenge, is made more difficult by the economic factors in play (not to mention a Presidential election). When there’s less confidence in the revenue forecast executives are loath to add to their fixed costs, such as payroll. It is common in times like these for companies to become very cautious about filling vacant positions, or adding head count.
Just because the economy is sputtering doesn’t mean that companies are putting key initiatives on the back burner, or hunkering down in a bunker mentality. It simply means they are looking for ways to maintain momentum while mitigating financial risks. Interim managers or on-demand leaders in Marketing and Sales can play invaluable roles for companies during uncertain economic times by achieving the necessary results without adding to fixed payroll costs.
Q2 Employment Outlook Softening
ManPower, Inc, the $21 billion employment services company, just released its Manpower Employment Outlook Survey for Q2 2008. It clearly reflects a softer jobs market for the quarter ending June 2008.
ManPower’s CEO and Chairman, Jeffrey A. Joerres summarizes the report’s findings, “The important change we are seeing is not about reductions in workforces, like we would typically expect in a recessionary period, but rather an increase in the percentages of employers who are planning to put a hold on hiring and forge ahead with the people they already have. This is definitely a ‘wait and see’ approach as they evaluate where their economies are headed, rather than a panic attack at this point.”
In the survey “a quarter-over-quarter comparison shows the weakest employment prospects since Quarter 1 2004. According to seasonally adjusted survey results, employers in nine of the 10 industry sectors expect the hiring pace to remain stable or decline during Quarter 2 2008. Of the 10 industry sectors surveyed, only Transportation/Public Utilities employers anticipate improved conditions for job seekers in the coming quarter versus Quarter 1 2008.”
As you’d expect the figures vary by region and by industry sector. The report can be downloaded from ManPower’s Website.
Damn the Torpedoes and Full Speed Ahead
Any experienced business leader will tell you the keys to achieving results during periods of uncertainty are to mitigate the financial risks but keep charging forward. The use of interim managers is a smart way to achieve much-needed flexibility and results during unnerving times. Here’s why.
- You can quickly apply the right talent to achieve the necessary results. Hiring an interim is much faster and easier than is recruiting someone for a senior-level permanent position. Less valuable time is lost.
- You can focus entirely on the skills you need for the short term without complicating the picture with concerns about future requirements. You don’t have to find the marketing or sales leader who is perfect for this quarter as well as next year and beyond. You can focus like a laser on meeting the short term requirements.
- Interim managers are the utilities of management talent. You only pay for what you use. This is an enormous benefit during uneven economic conditions because you can adjust the volume of service you need very easily and quickly. To use interim talent you’re making short-term financial commitments with variable dollars, rather than long term, fixed cost commitments.
- Interim manages can deliver results for less. When the total cost of recruiting and employing a permanent executive or senior manager is compared to an interim’s fees the cost advantage can be significant.
- Interim managers often provide a more practical and cost-effective solution than management consultants. Usually you can bring in the same level of talent, one with both strategic and operational credentials, who can be a member of your team for less than management consultants with bureaucracies and fancy offices to support.
Don’t let the next months of economic uncertainty prevent you from keeping your customers satisfied and your competitors on their heels. Maintain fiscal flexibility and generate results through the use of interim management for filling gaps and driving forward key initiatives.
For a more in-depth look at how to successfully utilize interim management strategies check out these sources:
- Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue, available from Amazon.com
I was having coffee and discussing interim management with a well-respected business adviser and investor the other day. He pointed out an opportunity for interim marketing and interim sales that I hadn’t thought of before.
He correctly observed that nearly every venture capital and private equity firm has within their portfolio at least one company that has been in the portfolio for seven years or so and is struggling to reach the point where an equity event (IPO, M&A) is feasible. The investors want a return. Their management fees may be declining. He called these portfolio companies “wounded ducks”.
A change of management isn’t likely in the cards. A sharp candidate is going to see that the situation is extremely risky. Besides, the recruitment process would eat up too much valuable time. However, a breath of fresh perspective and vitality from an interim manager just might do the trick.
In these situations, why not bring in an interim sales and/or interim marketing manager with the right combination of domain/process expertise to make an all-out push for an agreed upon outcome? It’d be a mini-turnaround of sorts over a period of 3-9 months.
A solid idea worth considering.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Allow me to share a bit of introspection. In my long career as a marketer I’ve worked for eight companies as an employee, but I’ve provided services to over 55 different companies as a consultant or interim manager. Nearly all my employers and clients were in different industry segments or product categories.
So, when I see bios of executives who have for 25 years worked for three companies all in the same industry I’m astonished at their dedication to one industry. I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t get really bored though.
As you can imagine this introspective glance at my career got me to thinking (once again) about the relative value of domain expertise versus process expertise for an interim manager.
I can see the value of having experience within an industry sector or product category if one is attempting to work for another company in the same field. Really, I can. However, I think domain expertise is overrated. I believe more companies when hiring a permanent or interim executive in marketing should put more weight on the leader’s process skills and relationship skills.
One of the biggest values an IM in marketing can bring to the organization is objectivity. If the person doesn’t have in-depth industry experience they will question everything and ensure that customer data and market trends are significant factors in strategic and tactical marketing decisions. This objectivity and current market insight is absolutely critical to off-set the tendency for companies to drink their own Kool-Aid to the point of extreme myopia.
A person who has been in the industry for a time is likely to believe they know it all and be eager to show the client that they do. They will also be very tempted to rely on “what worked for them at ABC Company.” In both cases objective, market-centric thinking can take a back seat when someone wants to showboat. Professional marketers won’t do this. No matter how experienced they are in a category they’ll insist on the latest customer data, competitive analysis, and market trends to help steer their decisions.
If you’re considering interim management to fill a gap in the ranks, to shore up skill levels temporarily, or to add one-time bandwidth look first at the individuals who have a track record of applying proven processes and marketing instincts to their assignments. It’s hard to go wrong with that type of experience.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
It’s a great day when you find statistics to back up a thesis. I’ve long experienced that mid-market companies have a difficult time accelerating their growth because of a lack of the right talent. I think this is true in nearly every field, but especially evident, based on my observations, in Marketing and Engineering. Interim marketing managers, this is your cue. Mid-market companies, this is your chance to leave the old models behind and look at how interim management in the marketing department can give your organization an amazing level of energy and flexibility.
In July The Economist magazine published, in association with CIT, a report that looked at the economic outlook for U.S. middle-market companies (by their definition companies from $25M to $1Bn annual revenue). Perspectives from America’s Economic Engine: US Middle Market Outlook 2007 is available for free download.
An excerpt from the report:
“When it comes to obstacles to growth, a shortage of talented staff is cited most frequently (35%), followed by labour costs (25%) and market saturation (25%). The lack of high calibre staff is especially felt by the healthcare and IT industries.”
In other words, a shortage of talent and the cost of talent are obstacles #1 and #2 for mid-market companies. Shake off your TOBMs (tired old business models) and look at the wealth of super-skilled, super-experienced, super-motivated interim managers that are available to your organization right now.
-CBRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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