There is a perception that employers look only towards people with less experience in the market place. Why is that? Do they consider the mature applicant to be less flexible, less driven, more expensive or less technologically aware? It would be naive to think that age isn’t taken into account, when employers are looking at a prospective applicant. However, the number of people working beyond the age of 65, is, apparently, rising significantly, according to the ‘UK Office of National Statistics and so the competition for challenging senior roles will increase; this is especially true of the ‘Interim Management’ market place.
A great many pending activities are ‘project’ driven – therefore it would follow that the more experienced one is, the greater the diversity on a range of projects. Projects such as – business process re-engineering, information technology, financing of new product launches, franchising and licensing agreements, critical commercial negotiations, export development and sales improvement etc. can take advantage of experienced leaders.
In our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) competitive business environment, seasoned ‘Interim Managers’ should be tapped for their length & depth of experience for short-term needs arising from acquisitions or sudden take-overs; relocation and expansion or consolidation of facilities in the office or manufacturing environment; privatization issues; start-up or shut-down of a company, subsidiary or division; productivity, efficiency or profitability improvement needs.
The list can be endless. Many organizations are finding the best way to ensure success and of course avoid costly mistakes is to appoint a senior interim manager who has the necessary skills to quickly establish what needs to be done. They can ensure that these needs are translated, understood properly and executed on time.
Often project times are cut dramatically leading to a perception of considerable competitive advantage, substantial budget and cost savings. However, are these facts true and realistic?
In today’s climate, as companies have down-sized causing the loss of one or more senior executives, for whatever reason, this can often cause a very negative impact on many business units or the general organization.
Experienced interim managers can ‘come into their own’ during times of crisis, filling gaps caused by sudden departures of key executives, for reasons of sickness, resignation or death; for dismissals, both planned and unplanned; protracted recruitment difficulties, caused by scarcity or unusual market factors; maternity leave cover etc.,
It is vital, the speed of execution be of the essence. Having gained an enormous wealth and breadth of experience, the more mature applicant is well qualified, has the ability to be able to step in at a moment’s notice and has the ‘know how’ to make a virtually immediate impact on the necessary tasks. They can fill the vacuum of leadership, be a self-starter and literally ‘hit the ground running!’
The experienced and more mature ‘Interim Managers’ are often a preferred alternative when it is necessary to fill a critical vacancy for a limited space of time. Often senior executives can take six months or more to recruit, of course the client won’t wait that long. The primary objective should be to ensure that business momentum is maintained with the ‘day-to-day’ running of the organization. The senior ‘Interim Executive’ must, therefore, be immediately available and suitably experienced and certainly well-qualified to be effective on day one. They are usually more willing to accept the responsibility for their actions when put into a situation.
A major benefit of engaging an experienced interim is it enables the client to obtain an outsider’s impartial view of the business and to achieve some rapid deliverables. They should not have an agenda and are able to take unpopular decisions, if necessary. The more mature interim would probably have far more confidence to be able to do this, as it is only with maturity and experience with people and situations over a lengthy period of time that enables them to make some very tricky decisions. Another benefit is that the more junior members of an organisation are more likely to listen and respect their judgment as they are able to stand outside the internal politics. Some very confident negotiating skills would be an absolute necessity!
When searching for a mature interim executive, there should be no surprise that analysis of the age of all executives, shows 85% are between 40 & 60 years. It is generally considered that below the age of 40 it is less likely that an individual will have the necessary experience to meet the demanding standards of an ‘Interim Executive’, especially in terms of his or her ability to transfer skills and experience quickly to a new client environment. It is therefore incumbent on the ‘mature’ applicant to challenge any perceived prejudices, by ensuring that they have presented themselves as ‘the very best person for the assignment.’