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You are a highly experienced, seasoned professional, and you have stepped out on your own to become an interim manager. You’ve started working at very senior levels, where you get drafted in to sort out a significant challenge in an organisation.

It sounds like just the sort of work you were looking for when you were planning your escape from corporate employment. You are now doing it – solving important issues for your new client, but it doesn’t quite feel like your skills and experience are being recognised.

In this post I share some of the reasons why the interim role may not be the best way to realise your value or receive the rewards that should go with it. There is, however, another proven route you could try.

A typical interim scenario

When you look at why organisations need interims it helps to frame the value you bring and the problems your arrival helps to solve. An interim can be brought in for all sorts of reasons.

Perhaps the organisation that’s hired you does not want to, or is not ready to, recruit a full-time permanent person. Maybe because it’s a transitional project; they are asking you to support the organisation as it goes through a significant change of senior personnel and they are not ready to hire a senior person. Perhaps the task is something that a permanent employee is not buying into but, as an interim, you will find it an attractive challenge.

The shift towards trusted advisor

Increasingly, agencies that want interims are looking for people who do not just have the technical skills but can also bring their wide ranging experience to become fully commercially aware of the business context in which they are operating. They want people who can be a trusted advisor to senior members of the executive in the business in which they are operating. As a result, we are starting to see a polarisation in the interim market.

On the one hand, there is the typical temporary assignment where you are a warm body (who in other terms would be called a contractor but because you are at management level you are called an interim). In these roles it’s all about your technical skills and experience. And the rates are usually only a very small premium to the total benefits package that you would have as an employee. And without any form of employment contract or benefits.

At a more strategic level there are the highly accomplished professionals who can work both in delivery and consulting. They perform an advisory role in that senior position. But again, they are not necessarily being paid a very high premium over the employee rate for a comparable executive.

Exploited or rewarded – it’s up to you

If you are only being exploited for your skills and knowledge – that may not be the most satisfying for you. If you are being recognised as somebody who does bring that wider advisory consulting role alongside your delivery capability – you should certainly be rewarded for it.

So, ask yourself if the life of an interim is really working for you?

  • Do you feel that you are not necessarily properly valued and rewarded for the extraordinary efforts that you make on behalf of your clients?
  • Do you believe that you have much more to bring than just your technical skills and your deep knowledge of a particular management area?
  • Are you looking to have a more flexible workstyle where the option is not a full-time long-term contract in a single company, typically six to eighteen months, but a portfolio of clients where your individual commitment is smaller?

In conclusion

Being an interim often sounds more attractive when viewed from the position of someone seeing it as the ‘golden ticket’ out of the corporate world. While it can offer an interesting range of opportunities, there is a danger that interims find themselves without the rewards their technical skills or their broad experience deserve.

They may also find themselves deeply involved with an organisation but suddenly they are looking for a new contract as they’ve had all their focus on the one assignment. It can often feel quite similar to corporate life, but without the benefits.

The good news is that there’s a more attractive way of bringing your offer to market. One where you’ll achieve recognition, variety of work and be in complete control – with the rewards that go with it. Check out www.portfolio


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.