Are Polish companies ready for interim management?

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The idea of interim management has been developing in Poland for a decade. And while the market is growing at a rate of 15 percent each year and the forecasts for the coming years are positive, we are still a long way from Western markets, where these services have been commonplace for years

Interim management is a temporary cooperation between a company and an interim manager – an experienced specialist with a clear-cut professional profile hired to perform a specific job and reach well defined business goals. Once the job is done, the interim manager leaves the company and their remuneration is contingent on their results.

The first country to introduce this management model was Sweden, where interim management services appeared back in 1960s. Over the years, the solution has been adopted by the Benelux countries, France, the UK and Germany. The number of interim managers in the UK is estimated at 20,000, and at 15,000 in Germany. In Poland the number is 10 times lower. Does this mean that the Polish market is not ready yet for interim management?

Low awareness

The relatively low popularity of interim management in Poland may be the product of several elements. First, entrepreneurs still don’t know much about the service and how it can benefit them. Unsurprisingly, corporations that use interim management in Poland have already become acquainted with the model in their sister companies in Western Europe. Secondly, decision-makers in organizations are still distrustful of the solution, wary of the high costs or the time it could take to get the interim manager up to speed with ongoing projects. They also fail to see the difference between an interim manager and a full-time employee who could also be a top-level specialist.

In some cases, companies may have poor past experiences with the choice of interim manager. This is usually the case if the management misdiagnoses the problems the company is facing, defines goals and KPIs incorrectly or fails to identify which competencies are missing in the team and selects the wrong person for the interim manager role. To reduce these risks, entrepreneurs need to be educated on how the model works, how to choose the right person for the job and define the areas and types of projects where an interim manager can prove to be effective.

Until recently, entrepreneurs saw working with an interim manager as an absolute last resort, when all other methods of increasing efficiency had failed. They also equated interim management with crisis management. This is changing, though. According to the latest report prepared by the Interim Managers Association, companies no longer opt for the solution just in the strategic and management areas, but increasingly often in sales, HR and finance. The most common reason to hire an interim manager is when the company lacks certain competencies, when the organization faces a major change or to complete a very specific project.

IM to the rescue

If we measure whether the Polish market is ready for interim management by the level of awareness of the service, there seems to be a long road ahead before the solutions becomes commonplace. It does not mean, however, that Polish companies don’t need it.

Economic changes: the growing competition caused by an ever-more global economy, and the increasing complexity of business models forces organizations to look for new ways to develop. Entrepreneurs come across challenges they have never seen before, and they need unique competencies and experience to solve them. Digitization and the growing need for optimizing costs force companies to be more flexible and swifter in introducing changes.

That is exactly what interim management offers. You can expect interim managers to become more in demand. Entrepreneurs need to understand the model and the purpose of the service. They need to realize how effective interim managers can be in increasing operational efficiency. But, as with everything else, you won’t know it until you’ve tried it.

Beata Zborowska
Partner
Mastery of Management

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