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The First Question to Ask an Interim Manager

The interim manager arrives. It is Friday. Business is less as usual. All eyes are focused on this woman. What would be her first step?

People are still talking about the possible reason why “our” manager has left. Rumours go that his position was no longer tenable. He defended the old strategy, but the course has changed since the main stockholder left the scene. New changes are to be expected. The interim manager is to lead the group through a new phase and in the mean time she needs to define and maybe hire or appoint new management. If there will be any...

At ten o’clock starts the presentation in the main hall where she is officially presented to the organization.

“Are there any questions?” There are no questions and everybody gets back to work. In fact the work continues only for the operational activities. Although projects and new business developments haven’t stopped, the drive is missing.

The actions taken by the interim manager during the first week will determine a great deal the rest of the events. For the moment, the organization is fallen back into a speculative mode.

It is the task of the interim manager to control the speculation. If she enters with a cultural shock method -- from now on all is different -- she will raise the expectations and resistance against her approach. If she starts with interviews and a listening-mode she might not be able to implement real changes.

When you are submitted in such a situation you can tell by the first actions, what side the interim manager is on. Interim managers are hired to do a job. Although in some occasions the interim manager is just “interim,” hired to sit in for a while.

© 2005 Hans Bool

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management advice. Astor Online solves issues in hours what normally would take days. You can apply for a free demo account.