An interim manager works faster

Over the years, our experience on various projects has shown us that an interim manager works faster than managers who hold a permanent position and are in similar situations in their companies. A number of studies in several European countries bear this out, finding that permanent managers in a company perform at 70% of their theoretical potential whereas interim managers give 120-130%.

The real point of interest here is finding out the reason for this significant variation in performance, assuming that both types of manager are equally competent. There are two main explanations:

  • The first is linked to the interim manager him/herself – their experience, their focus and their ability to adapt.
  • The second has to do with how important and urgent the project is for the company.


Interim managers: experience, focus and ability to adapt

Interim managers have been specifically chosen for the projects because they are experienced in the job that needs to be done. They have done it several times before and shown that they are very good at it, and also that they really enjoy it. Therefore, there will be no inevitable delay of a hypothetical learning curve.

Interim managers are usually far more experienced in change projects. They have made this their way of life. Managing change not only involves the technical side but rather crucially entails also managing the human dimension. Change in companies often gets stuck at middle management level because that is where the difficulties that are passed on to the operational levels are found. The operational levels are equally important because the changes directly affect the everyday work of these people. To ensure the speed and success of the project, it is vital to get all teams at all levels to accept the changes and put them into practice. Interim managers know how to help middle managers pass on changes to lower levels of the organisation. This is the only way that successful change management is achieved.

Because they have acquired experience in a range of companies and sectors, interim managers have a fresh, innovative vision. They can incorporate best practices and objectively analyse processes, as they are not conditioned by them. Furthermore, because they have worked in various business cultures, they can hit the ground running and adapt more easily. Bringing new ideas to an organisation usually has a positive impact on the team’s motivation and, therefore, on the results.

The company: importance and urgency of the project

There is a sense of urgency. When a company hires an interim manager, they want to improve a given situation within a clearly defined period. The project will usually have a delivery deadline. This puts pressure on moving towards the project completion and significantly ups the pace.

Support from the governing bodies is also fundamental. Most interim management projects are pushed forward and commissioned by the board of directors, general management or senior management. This support opens the door for a fresh, more open-minded attitude in the organisation, and increases everyone’s commitment to change. It sends out a clear message that the project is strategic and will be implemented at all costs.

A third relevant factor is that the project is usually triggered by a specific situation that the current team has been putting up with for a long time. The interim manager’s arrival is often seen as providing relief from a situation that they could not solve or that had not been prioritised.

A fourth and powerful reason for speed is the focus. When it comes to new projects, they are executed by someone who is working exclusively on them. They are not shared out among several executives who have to find time for them on top of their existing workload, which is frequently the case in Spain and usually yields unsatisfactory results. It not only slows down the project but also takes executives away from their ordinary work.


Because interim managers usually work 70-80% faster than permanent managers, they have a much lower cost for the project. Therefore, we believe that hiring an interim manager is a profitable investment. The investment is defined, it enables results to be achieved more swiftly and, therefore, it has a higher yield than other alternatives.
Dirk Kremer
Q Management de Transición S.L.

See other articles


Find out some of our successful case studies