The Pros and Cons of Hiring Interim Executives

Bringing in short-term leadership is winning greater acceptance across the business world. Though some companies are wary, many believe that these individuals provide a competitive edge. In a new report, Kinsley|Sarn breaks down the drawbacks and benefits of interim leaders.

February 27, 2023 – Many organizations never consider hiring an interim executive for fear of a bad investment. If done correctly, however, this can be an extremely fruitful venture, according to a new report from Kinsley|Sarn. “And, with today’s unconventional work practices, this is becoming a much more popular opportunity to revamp operations and generate innovative practices to keep your organization relevant,” the study said. In its study, Kinsley|Sarn explored key considerations to keep in mind before hiring an interim executive and the added value this short-term option can bring to your organization.

‍Drawbacks of Hiring Interim Executives

In most cases, businesses aim to hire individuals who are deeply invested in the mission and are looking to grow within the organization long-term. “Yet, when you hire an interim executive, you go into the relationship knowing that it is for a limited time –– significantly changing the playing field for both parties,” Kinsley|Sarn said. “We begin by walking through some of the drawbacks you should understand from the beginning, so you can make an informed decision that strategically aligns with your business strategy and budget.”

‍1. Costs

One of the main reasons many organizations do not even consider this option is because of the effort required to hire for a limited time, according to the Kinsley|Sarn report. “Given the financial costs, time, and resources that must be spent to identify, assess, and bring on an interim executive, it can be difficult to justify to the decision-makers in your organization,” the firm said. “Fortunately, there are ways to include this option in your hiring strategy in a way that will not break your budget –– and turn these initial costs into an investment.”

‍2. Onboarding 

Kinsley|Sarn also explained that another drawback to consider is the onboarding timeline and learning curve that many executives face when being added to a new organization, regardless of the amount of time they are hired for. The firm notes that despite their years of experience, this challenge must not be overlooked, as your teams will have particular working dynamics that can take time to learn and adapt to.

‍3. Difficulty Integrating 

Lastly, Kinsley|Sarn  points out that it can be difficult for short-term executives to integrate with your teams and culture. “Even once they learn their ways, they may find it difficult to fit in and fully connect with their peers or the business/project objectives, and may quickly give up since they know they will only be there for a short period of time,” the firm said. “For employers and employees alike, synergy is one of the most important aspects of satisfaction and success.” 

‍Benefits of Hiring Interim Executives

Kinsley|Sarn also looked at the key benefits that interim executives offer when brought on to your team.

‍1. Bring New Ideas and Perspectives to the Mix

“One of the most appealing benefits of hiring short-term executives is that they can bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to the table,” the Kinsley|Sarn report said. “They have fewer internal factors influencing their thought process because they have not been a part of the organization before, and may be able to offer novel suggestions without hesitation. Given their years of diverse experience, they can offer innovative business ideas and help put new plans into action within your teams.”

Related: Retaining Your Employees During the Great Resignation

‍2. Offer Unbiased Views of Your Operations

An interim executive can add value for a particular project by giving an unbiased view of your operations, and offer suggestions to improve your way of doing things internally, according to the Kinsley|Sarn report. “The key to eliciting this critical information will be a direct result of the environment you create and the trust you build,” the search firm said. “The first step is to have regular and authentic conversations where these valuable insights can be shared.   With these, you will be able to maximize your return on investment.”

Answering the Growing Call for Interim Executive Talent
Private equity’s influence and an uncertain economy are two key factors in the surge of companies looking for interim leaders, not to mention shifting demographics and the rising call by top professionals to work when, where, and how they prefer. Nat Schiffer, of The Christopher Group, discusses the shift toward fractional talent and how his firm is responding.

3. Provide Specialized Support

With this hiring option, Kinsley|Sarn says that you can reap the benefits of an employee with years of experience in a highly specialized area. “To do so, you must have a clear understanding of what this person can do and how their skills can be applied to your business,” the firm said. “This clarification will help you to define their responsibilities and objectives while working on your team and clearly outline how you want their skills to be applied in your company, process, and project. To help them remain focused on their deliverables and engage them beyond the payout, it is good practice to get them involved in team training, one-on-one coaching sessions, and/or mentorship programs during their contracted period.”‍

4. Inspire Your Team

Kinsley|Sarn also says that fresh perspectives and new ways of working have the potential to reignite employee engagement both individually and for the team as a whole. “Some individuals find that interacting with and learning from these new team members will keep them motivated to work hard and stay committed to the mission,” Kinsley|Sarn said. “In many cases, this interaction can act as a form of mentorship for your team members –– one that can help guide their next steps in their careers and role at your organization.”

Kinsley|Sarn is an Indianapolis, IN-based client driven executive search firm that has been in business for over 15 years helping clients through the identification, acquisition, and integration of exceptional leadership talent.

Related: Hiring Top Talent in Unprecedented Times

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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