6 Steps to Leverage an Interim Executive

Are you hiring an executive to provide interim leadership while seeking a permanent executive for the long term? Perhaps there is need for a change agent who can shift internal focus and allow for a different kind of leader to enter that position?

The role of transitional leadership is very specific, and therefore the right parameters must be put in place. Here are the six critical steps to a successful interim executive life cycle:

1. Get agreement from the interim and the team that this is a short-term relationship. Identify a target transition period and end date to avoid any confusion about a possible conversion to a permanent employee.

2. Have the interim present his or her plan to key stakeholders and the executive team. Buy-in from this group is critical to ensure success and cut out any inadvertent — or intentional — roadblocks.

3. Avoid scope creep. Be clear on expected outcomes and time frames. Manage the interim like you would any other employee to keep the work on track and the scope focused.

4. Have the interim weigh in on the external recruitment efforts. His or her perspective can be valuable as to what is needed in the role and critical skills required by experiencing it firsthand.

5. Create a wind-down period to tie up loose ends and transition the work. This involves communication with stakeholders, the executive team, immediate reports and the successor.

6. Retain the interim as a consultant for the permanent hire to call on as needed for the first one to three months. This creates a smooth transition for the organization.

Here are two general rules for any interim executive:

• Do no harm. Leave the organization in a better place than when you came and transition the role seamlessly to your successor.

• Don’t get too attached to the role or the organization. When you have an alternative agenda of getting hired on permanently, the rules change. Avoid this potential conflict of interest as your judgment is no longer unbiased.