Unfortunately, in the U.S. there is a certain minority of executives and investors who believe that when a company engages with an “interim manager” it is a sign of trouble for the company. This is odd thinking considering their reaction should be one of admiration that the company is shrewd enough to fill gaps with interim leadership before the gaps start dragging down the company’s performance.
I think the negative perception stems from the belief that interims are only used in emergency turnaround situations. We’re all too familiar with the corporate announcement of an interim-CEO or interim-CFO that usually portends a serious management issue. The logic goes that where there’s smoke there’s fire.
Yes, some interims specialize in turnaround situations. Yes, that can be a signal that not all is well in the executive suite. However, the vast majority of interim assignments, especially in Marketing or Sales, are not in turnaround situations (thus far, I’ve never had an engagement in a turnaround). The presence of interim leadership is not an indication that a company is experiencing difficulties. It simply means that the company knew it had a temporary gap in leadership, skills, or resource bandwidth and elected to fill that gap with an on-demand leader.
“Interim” isn’t a nasty word, or a signal that there’s trouble in the castle. There are thousands of interims at work in the U.S. and I assure you they’re not all at work in turnaround or at-risk companies.