Article of the week 13 – 2023
How does good interim management work and how does it help me?
We know the situation – an important part of the management team suddenly breaks away permanently, the successor cannot be found internally so quickly, or you are planning a restructuring and for this time there is a lack of an important management or specialist resource for the transition, such as workforce management, CX design or controlling.
Is it always general managers, division managers or site managers? – No, those days are gone.
In times of „Arbeiterlosigkeit“, i.e. the lack of manpower in the market, which Dr. Sebastian Dettmers (CEO Stepstone) describes in his book of the same name, the shortage of skilled workers has and will continue to worsen. If the urgently needed resource is not available fast enough, it needs other new solutions. And here, in addition to mid-level managers, it is increasingly a question of specialists who accompany your customer service for a time, drive the issue forward together with internal resources during the support period and, if necessary, train the future employee. Interim management is therefore becoming more and more of a tried and tested personnel instrument in customer service.
What makes for successful interim management?
Successful interim management includes several important factors that help to support your customer service effectively and efficiently during an appropriate transition phase. Here are some points that serve as fundamental aspects for the successful deployment of interim management in your team:
- Clear goal setting: the first steps are to jointly define clear goals and expectations. This could include, for example, increasing customer satisfaction (e.g., CSAT), reducing wait/lie-in times, taking on a specialist role, or improving customer communication by adapting internal processes.
- Immediate ownership: interim managers quickly take ownership of the appropriate part of their Customer Service function, ensuring that they quickly become familiar with the culture, teams and processes involved.
- Effective team leadership: Good interim management requires effective team leadership. Interim managers must be able to lead and motivate a team that may be in an uncertain and stressful situation.
- Analysis and optimization of processes: An important role of interim management is to analyze and optimize processes to improve customer service effectiveness and efficiency. This includes identifying weaknesses and implementing measures for improvement. This applies to both quick wins and corresponding strategic issues.
- Continuous monitoring and reporting: Interim managers should ensure that Customer Service performance is regularly monitored and analyzed. By creating KPI reports, weak points can be identified and measures can be taken to optimize them.
- Objectivity: Interim managers have no emotional connection to the company and can therefore work more objectively and make unbiased decisions. They can also act as mediators and help with conflicts or difficult decisions.
What do interim managers ideally bring to the table?
The interim managers to be selected should have the following qualities, among others, in order to deploy them successfully:
- Experience: interim managers must have extensive experience in the field. They should have a deep understanding of customer service requirements and know how to develop and implement effective strategies.
- Leadership skills: since interim managers usually take on a leadership role, it is important that they have excellent leadership skills. They should be able to motivate, inspire and lead teams.
- Analytical skills: The interim managers should have good analytical skills to analyze the relevant KPI accordingly to understand the customer service issues and develop solutions.
- Communication skills: they should have excellent communication skills and be able to communicate effectively with employees, customers and other internal and external stakeholders.
- Flexibility: interim managers should be able to adapt quickly to new environments and situations and be flexible enough to make changes when needed.
- Results orientation: they should be able to set clear goals and achieve results. He or she should have the ability to develop strategies and actions that lead to measurable improvements.
- Customer orientation: interim managers should always keep customer needs in mind and ensure that customer service works effectively and efficiently to increase customer satisfaction.
- Project management skills: they should be able to effectively plan, organize and manage projects. This includes the ability to set realistic timelines and goals, and effectively manage resources and budgets.
Since the term „interim manager“ is not protected, it is important to look closely at these points in particular, i.e. personal suitability. If all of the above meets your needs, there is only one question left to answer: Does the so-called „culture fit“, i.e. the interim person, fit into your organization?
Interim management can help you to bridge difficult personnel bottlenecks with an important management or specialist resource and is a successful and proven personnel instrument. Due to their many years of experience, they have a direct impact on the company. Since interim managers are not looking for permanent employment, they can provide objective and independent recommendations. They are not influenced by internal political factors or personal relationships. And in the end, the interim person must fit the situation in their organization so that the desired results can be achieved together.
Bernhard H. Aulenkamp – Senior Consultant