With over 20 years experience.....
...at Senior Management and Executive Level we provide professional interims with reputations for delivering results. It is their skills and abilities that benefits the organisations that we partner with.
We are connected to professional interims...
who always achieve set expectations. We deliver mission critical assignments requiring candidates with gravitas, specialist knowledge and highly developed expertise, ensuring a superior outcome for our clients.
We provide leaders in change........
...transformation, project and functional specialists. We work with a known pool of talent, and move at pace, often placing interims within days and in extreme circumstances sometimes hours.
We have a generalist approach......
....to sector and functional needs. The best candidate on paper is not always the best solution. We meet interims across all functions, capabilities and sectors and are creative in presenting candidates. who may challenge perceptions
Osprey Clarke have been accredited as Platinum Service Providers by the Institute of Interim Management
We do not simply take a brief!
As experts in our field, it is incumbent on us to challenge the requirements and assumptions that our clients often have. The brief confirms our understanding of the assignment and is taken at Partner level.
A portfolio of stellar candidates.........
...which has been built over two decades. We know we provide interim professionals who we trust can deliver on every occasion. Each is previously met and fully briefed. All data is maintained through "Not Active Looking"
We follow a strict contact process with new candidates.
Only a Partner can vet new entrants to our portfolio with a detailed meeting to validate ability. We build an in-depth knowledge and understanding of what makes these individuals successful. For assignment briefings.
We adhere to a strict confidentiality policy
Our client will often meet interims off site. Our brief and our on-going discussions, will only reveal facts, as instructed by the client. Interims respect confidentiality and tend to have more interest in the role.
On agreement of assignment.....
...... we manage all contractual matters with both parties. The interim presents a Service Contract referring to their Limited Company. Partner contact is maintained throughout the assignment to the point where an end of role review is held with both parties
Steve has been an industry leading Interim Provider since the mid 1990’s. Rated a leading provider of interim services by the Institute of Interim Management.
He offers expert advice by identifying the right interim solution for businesses short of capable leadership or needed internal expertise.
Steve has previously worked with two of the UK's leading interim providers and has been instrumental in their successful sale to larger specialist recruiting Groups. He developed his consultancy skills via senior Sales and Marketing roles within B2B Services companies including Initial, Sketchley, The Sunlight Service Group and Hays, where he predominantly led Business Development and National Accounts teams.
Michael has been a Partner for over ten years with particular focus on infrastructure, transportation and logistics. He currently serves as Treasurer of Penrhyn International and is proud to be a trustee of Haven House Children's Hospice.
Being a professional interim is a career statement
.... not just a ‘gap fill’ opportunity. Suitable individuals make conscious decisions to leave corporate life to take up a career as an interim. They rarely fall into their assignments, they have to work hard for them! Interim candidates, all have astounding CV’s, but what does good look like?
Group HR Director
Major Utility Company
"There are many Interim providers and, in my experience, Osprey Clarke is unique. I always feel that they take the time to fully understand the need of the client and I know that when they suggest candidates to me, they have fully researched them for best fit and I can be confident that not only will they do the job, but that they will fit in with the culture of the organisation. Not all providers take quite so much care as Osprey Clarke."
Global IT Services Company
Senior Vice President
Global FM Company
"Osprey Clarke Know the market segments very well and have a good contact list of potential high calibre professionals both in the UK and worldwide. They are very agile in searches and offer a personal service to quickly find suitable candidates"
Global Travel/Leisure Company
"Steve spends the time and energy to have a rigorous understanding of the client - not just the roles but the culture and the relationships needed. This is about finding the right person not just a person. And therefore, because Steve has invested so much in the understanding it means he can operate at speed, quickly identifying a candidate pool for the client.
As a client you are always certain that the list from Steve is of course made up of people who can do the 'job on paper' but they can also do the job in reality in your company. And it gives the client the confidence that if they know you that well, then they must also know the candidates well. I always recommend Steve - he is a diligent, enthusiastic business partner who delivers consistently"
Interim Group HR Director
Major Utility Company
"When Osprey Clarke contacts me with a potential assignment, I know that they have researched the requirements of the role, taken into account the culture of the organisation and looked in detail at best fit. I am confident that when I go for interview I am well placed and qualified to be there, and I feel totally supported by Osprey Clarke during the placement process and then throughout the assignment.
Interim management can be a little lonely sometimes and Osprey Clarke always ensures that I feel connected."
International Utility Business
"The assignment to place an interim CFO at GdF UK posed a number of challenges: cultural as well as technical’. ‘I think that it is an indication of the skilful way that Steve identified the criteria which would ensure the 'right fit' that the candidate placed was subsequently asked to take over as interim MD".
Interim Marketing Director
B2B Services Company
"I have always greatly valued Steve’s understanding of the workings of the interim market. He has that vital ability of being able to look at an issue, identify what is really important, and then offer excellent, practical advice as to the way forward’Steve's enthusiasm for his work is infectious because he regularly, if inadvertently, makes me want to go the extra mile; very few people have that effect! They say that your personal brand is what people say about you - after you've left the room. In that regard, I know Steve is a pro at what he does, because I've spoken to several of his customers without him being in the room, and they were always happy to eulogise about him’.
Interim Operations Director
Public Sector International Commission
"Steve is highly professional but with the additional and very distinct advantages of being pro-active, responsive and successful. Quick and effective communications are a simple enough requirement but sadly missing in much of this business - but not with Steve."
Interim Logistics Director
"I have known Steve for a number of years and have worked with him in establishing Interim roles for myself. Steve is a thorough professional with a very good view of the business market and community. He tells it as it is, and has always been available to discuss and support me both while I have been in an assignment or looking for my next. I would recommend Steve to anyone either in the interim market, or considering a change in career. Give him a call, he will be a valuable member of your network"
Interim HR Director
Leisure Goods Manufacturer
"Do not mistake Steve's approach with a recruitment agency who dabble in interim - this is "quality in" and "quality out"!
Global Consumer Goods Manufacturer and Distributor
"‘ I have used Steve for over 20 years in a wide variety of senior roles. He always provides a quick and accurate response to the specified interim brief - often candidates within a few days. With his help, I have been able to work through some complex and time constrained problems - in particular organisational change - and add real value to the businesses I have worked for. ‘"
Osprey Clarke Group and Partners
A market leader in executive search, we recruit through sector and functional practice groups at board and senior management levels. Our single focus has always been on the delivery of high quality executive search that is supported by diligent and imaginative research. We carefully managing our client base, we keep 'off limits' organisations to a minimum. We deliver to our client’s shortlists of diverse, talented individuals, by always seeking to challenge the 'obvious choice'
This division has a focus on senior management and executive expatriate search throughout the Middle East (GCC), Africa and CIS regions.
With over 20 years’ experience, we represent a wide range of publicly, family, privately or state-owned companies; academic institutions and non-profit organisations some of whom are considering emerging markets expansion for the first time.
We advise on typical working practices, package structures and visa requirements and invest significant time ensuring relocation aspects of each search are fully explored.
Penrhyn International is a leading global network of premier retained executive search firms, with offices in more than 40 cities around the world. Our members provide customised solutions to help organisations identify world-class C-suite professionals. With member firms in countries across Europe, North and South America, India, Australia and Japan, we have access to local knowledge and expertise, immediately available and easily shared.
Not Actively Looking (NAL) is a CRM system supporting and providing up-to-date information about candidate experience, skillset, current role and ambitions. This is a confidential service which allows the candidate to create a single profile and discreetly connect to Osprey Clarke and other selective interim providers.
We support individuals to ensure their profiles are completely protected, visible only to their chosen providers.
We are proud to support the Institute of Interim Management who fulfil an excellent role of vigorously promoting the sector, raising awareness of compliance and legislative matters and ensuring the highest levels of quality of interim candidates are maintained. The IIM is a unified voice which represents all who are involved in the interim sector
Executive Leasing Benefits
General Information regarding the Interim Profession
Contractor v Consultant v Interim – The real difference
There is much debate as to what description should be given to these 3 types of independent practitioners.
These are basic definitions, but it does keep it simple:
Contractor, delivery only, operationally focused with no strategic input
Consultant, strategic only, blue sky thinking and guidance, but not an experienced hands-on practitioner and cannot present activity and outputs
Interim, hands on, senior, both strategic and tactical. Learnt their skills on the job and implements solutions through past experiences
How to get cast-iron certainty in business-critical projects:
A quick strategy for success
The profile of a good interim
The "cost v value" debate
What an Interim can deliver
Interims are always sensibly overqualified, possessing skills that may not be required. However, those
not specified will always be available, if required.
Interims are independent and report directly to the client, not Osprey Clarke.
A client should expect an interim to do the job as specified, but additionally be on hand to advise, guide,
mentor and deliver ‘value added’ legacies.
No matter how detailed the brief is, changes may occur during validation.
Diversions can be by design or by surprise, but interims are capable of managing these unknowns!
Interims can take on roles that require:
• functional management
• operational leadership
• project/programme delivery
• change/transition/ transformational focus
• turnaround activities
• strategic or tactical alignment
Creating an environment where interims can succeed?
Interims hit the ground running and create calm, from chaos. It is imperative to provide what they need
to get the best out of them, quickly. With the right introduction, their start is seamless and hassle free.
Relevant parties/personnel, should know that interims are temporary, are not looking for a job and will depart once the job is done. No-one should feel threatened. They are there
to inject appropriate skills or as an addition to existing resources. They will need open channels of
communications at all times.
Although they are self-motivated and driven, regular review meetings are essential
How to select an appropriate interim provider
Under pressure, it’s tempting to resort to an internet search for interims or engage the first
provider that you find on Google, but while many providers make similar sounding claims, they
offer different levels of experience, service and delivery. Personal recommendations are a good
place to begin.
Unless you’ve met many Interims previously, it’s impossible to benchmark them. They are a
special, indefinable breed, who all have astounding CV’s. But what does good look like? Interim
management isn’t just another branch of recruitment, it’s a specialised career path.
Points to consider:
• Interims have focus and pace. Be wary of those offering ‘try before you buy’ recruitment as an
alternative. They are hedging their bets!
• Can the provider demonstrate a history of successfully placing interims within your type of
• Can they readily offer a wide range of high quality references of past assignments?
• It’s essential to meet the provider to agree the brief, timescale for delivery and ultimate cost
• Ensure they have a known and trusted portfolio of interim managers and don’t just select from a
database or LinkedIn.
• Make sure they complete ‘front end’ screening and briefing, and offers to have candidates
presented to you within 1 to 10 days.
• The emphasis should be on relevant skills and personality, which cannot be judged over the
phone or from a CV.
• Providers should add value by keeping in regular contact with the client and interim and ‘sign
off’ the project with an end of assignment audit.
• Be wary of an ‘all inclusive’ invoice (interims rate and providers margin combined) – you will not
know who is getting what
LinkedIn is a useful tool, giving you a range of candidates to select from.
You still have the problem of validating competencies, backgrounds, personalities and ensuring
that you will end up with an appropriate, professional interim.
Using an experienced provider, will de-risk and accelerate the process. Their intimate
knowledge and previous involvement with similar roles, allows them to cut through the veneer
to see what the candidate is really like.
Specialists at identifying and attracting world-class Interim Management Talent for Private Equity Portfolio Companies
Having spent over 20 years supporting Private Equity firms and their Portfolio Companies, Osprey Clarke has a deep understanding of the characteristics and behaviours that are required to succeed in a Private Equity backed environment.
Value creation in today’s business world extends far beyond “buying right” and cleaning up the balance sheet. Leaders in demand are those that bring operational, strategic and transformational excellence to a PE backed situation.
Osprey Clarke has been placing Main and Divisional Board level executives into PE portfolio companies, including SME’s, mid-sized corporates and multinational giants. We have supported these businesses from diligence through to sale. Our experience tells us that PE companies are increasingly looking for a multitude of skills and agility from their leaders.
We work with these companies by offering:
Technology and operational lead transformation activities
Leverage where required
Deep sector experience
Exit – PE, Trade and IPO
A network of trusted advisors
Independent Board Expertise
We stay in close contact with our interim network and take references along the way to ensure they are relevant to any given project.
The majority of Interim Managers are engaged when there is a problem and offer immediate value in time critical situations. Those interim candidates who have experienced working in a PE backed environment, intuitively know how to connect with investors and management in order to help drive improvement. Examples of where an interim may be needed are:
• lack of relevant experience in the existing management team
• unexpected gap in the leadership team with no time to conduct a lengthy search process
• a skill void e.g. limited or no exit experience; never worked in a leveraged environment
• a project is off course and racking up additional cost, which will have a detrimental effect on the EBITDA multiple
True Interim Managers, as opposed to those in between permanent roles, are highly experienced in their respective field and thrive in bringing instant value to a short-medium term project. The benefit to a PE backed situation, when there is an event timetable, is immediate.
Experienced at working with Private Equity
We understand the leadership qualities required to help private equity investors and their portfolio companies meet their goals, based on in-depth and up-to-date insight into the latest talent available, on an international basis. Portfolio Companies demand the highest quality candidates
Finding the right team to lead a turnaround, transformation or growth strategy is essential to meeting investor expectations for returns. We have a successful history of placing executives within private equity portfolio companies. We understand what makes a good leadership team in a leveraged environment, and we work collaboratively with the investment team and portfolio company to build the right team for success.
Getting the brightest and best executives in play as quickly as possible can make the difference between success and failure.
International talent portfolio.
Our well-established personal networks and connections mean we can deliver exceptional candidates drawn from the widest possible talent pool, wherever you need them.
We are the UK arm of Penrhyn International, a high calibre network of global search firms. With offices in 24 countries around the world, we have access to an international network of talent and resources.
Our understanding of the unique challenges and requirements of the private equity world, combined with our specialist expertise across all major industry sectors, means we are ideally positioned to find you the best candidates for portfolio companies’ specific needs.
Building Executive teams
We have a proven track record of placing CEOs, CFOs, HRDs, CIOs and COOs into private equity portfolio companies, ranging from SME’s to major multinational corporates. We can draw on our extensive and broad executive community around the world, from a wide range of sectors and functions. This enables us to find you leaders with the skillsets and experience required to drive value creation and successful exits from your portfolio investments.
Multi-faceted resourcing options
Meeting your top talent needs, Osprey Clarke uniquely combine specialists at Partner level. Our specialist practices represent Interim and Executive Search opportunities and focus on specific talent within those respective fields.
Examples of involvement in roles undertaken by the Osprey Clarke team
Consumer & Retail
• Interim MD, beauty products – USA
• Interim Re-location specialist, children’s wear
• Interim MD, Food retailer
• Interim CEO, Power generation
• Interim CFO, Power Generation
• Interim Group CFO, European Insurance company
• Interim CIO, Insurance support systems
• Interim MD, Healthcare provider
• Interim Marketing Director, Medical products
• Interim Sales Director, Medical products
Industrial & Manufacturing
• Interim CEO, Bespoke automotive manufacturer, Belgium
• Interim CEO, Specialist engineering
• Interim CFO, automotive components, Holland
• Interim Programme Manager, Metal foundry, Holland
• Interim Operations director, Packaging
• Interim Head of Finance, Packaging
• Interim Commercial Director, Military construction
• Interim Operations Director, Specialist boat builder
• Interim Operations Director, Specialist chemicals
• Interim FD, Food manufacturer, France
• Interim CEO, Children’s charity
• Interim CEO, Parenting charity
How to select the best interim talent
Questions to ask any potential candidate:
Why did they become an interim?
Are they also looking for permanent roles?
Have they experience of managing similar roles on an interim basis?
Do they work through their own Ltd company?
Have they referees that you can speak to?
What makes a good interim?
Interims should be:
• either business generalists, covering a multitude of corporate capabilities, or specialised in a
function or business activity. Both are successful and in demand, depending on what the client
• change agents, thriving on pressure, ambiguity and challenge. They are not BAU focused
• happy to take on lesser roles than those previously managed in corporate life. This allows them
to ‘reverse’ into the position with the capabilities and qualities to manage ‘up’ as well as down,
confronting all eventualities that arise.
• ideally financially secure and not desperate to work. They must accept only those roles that they
are confident of delivering. They must be pragmatic and able to walk away from roles that are not
• honest, with the integrity to demonstrate their suitable strengths as well as their potential
weaknesses for any given role.
• approachable and trustworthy. They will become independent confidants at the highest level
and must honour that trust, being candid and open with their responses
• capable of creating their exit programme.
The right CV
Interim CV’s should not be confused with search CV’s. They have totally different applications.
Search CV’s demand concise information. Interim CV’s demand detail as ‘key word search’ is often
utilised to assist the profiler to source appropriate skills.
Highlight all applicable skills, products, processes, practices, sectors, industries, job titles, countries
worked, languages etc, as each relevant word must be in your CV at least once, allowing you to be
found, at speed.
4-6 pages gives the candidate scope to be expansive, but keeps the contents relevant.
Routes to Market - 3 main channels to consider
The importance of networking cannot be over stressed.
It is vital that you build a good network of viable contacts, as you never know when one of these
may want to employ an interim.
Over 60% of all UK assignments are generated through personal contacts.
Using a known and reputable Interim Service Provider
Be selective, limit your contacts to proven agents who will develop a relationship with you and works within your sector/function.
Retention of your CV without contact, reduces your success rate with that company.
Don’t register with too many, you run the risk of diluting your offering
This is becoming more successful, but is still considered to be on the fringe of good practice as the
process leaves itself open to misrepresentation.
Not Actively Looking
Not Actively Looking (NAL) is the Osprey Clarke candidate management system in which we
manage personal data (CV’s, references etc).
• NAL provides a safe and confidential platform for us to access up-to-date career information,
including key achievements, skills, future aspirations and salary data etc
• It allows interims to keep multiple search firms, who they can select, up-to-date at the same
time without having to contact each firm individually
• The unique search retrieval methodology makes it easier to quickly identify interims when we’re
handling searches that precisely match their skills and aspirations
• It complies with the requirements of GDPR, enabling individuals to better control what career
information is stored and which executive search firms can view that information.
• Registration is quick and once registered, the interim can go back to edit or update their profile
or change permissions of who can view it.
• Not Actively Looking is the first place we will look to find up-to-date information about interims
• There is no cost for standard membership, allowing for registration with up to 8 providers. If
individuals wish to upgrade to a premium membership service, then use the voucher code
OCOFFER and it will give a free membership for six months.
Please ensure that you click on the link below to register, as this will guarantee that Osprey Clarke
is accepted as one of your preferred interim providers;
Understanding of Brief
This can reflect an exacting profile or allows for transferable skills to be utilised, which can deliver outcomes that are beyond expectations. We pride ourselves on our knowledge of the individuals within our portfolio. We take time to get to know them, as they are our ‘product’. This intimate understanding allows us to react at speed, without sacrificing the skill and attention required to achieve outstanding results
We determine availability, interest and criteria match. Specifics only revealed after
signing a Confidentiality Agreement. A role specific CV will be requested.
A personal briefing, presenting all relevant information relating to the role. The
Partner confirms suitability for the assignment.
Our partner accompanies the candidate into the client briefing meeting, allowing
for full and personal feedback.
Mahle, ThyssenKrupp, Dunlopillo, Hyundai, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Aumund, Compair, Samson Materials Handling, e2v, ESAB, Morgan Group, Force Protection Europe, Allgood, Dennis Eagle, NP Aerospace, St Neots Packaging, Optare, Rieter Automotive, Caparo,
Unipart, Shop Direct, UTL, Brammer
Assystem UK, Ricardo
Gaz de France, United Utilities, npower
Hitachi Rail, First Group, Crossrail, National Express, Virgin Trains, South West Trains, Swissport, First Scotrail
Jordans Ryvita, Witwoods Foods, Geest
Rexel, Clarks, Acco, Speedo International, Trutex
Microsoft, Amadeus, Talentia, PlasticLogic, Gamestec, MinorPlanet Systems,
Shepherd Group, St Modwen
One Stop Doctors, Westminster PCT,CPPIH
Aviva, Visa, Marsh Europe, Wesleyan Assurance, Police Mutual, Britannic Assurance,
NFU Mutual, Arval
Thomas Cook, HotelCare, Airtours
Dunedin Capital, LDC, 3i, Indigo Capital, Capula
Lincolnshire County Council, Commonwealth Secretariat, North Yorkshire Fire Service, Westminster Health
Oxford University, Nottingham University, Derby University, City University, NCSL, BECTA, QCA
Liberty, The Post Office, Retail Motor Industry, Animal
Feel Good Factory, Parenting 2000
CEO, General Manager, MD, Divisional Director
COO, Operations Director, Operations Mgr, Head of Operations
CFO, FD, Finance Manager, Finance Project Manager, Payroll Manager
HRD, HR Mgr, Comp & Bens, OD
General Counsel, Company Secretary
CIO, CTO, IT Director, Systems Implementation Mgr,
Programme Director, Project Director, Head of Programmes, Project Manager, Change Director, Transformation Director, Transition Director, all functional Programme/Project roles
Sales Director, Marketing Director, Business Development Director, Account Director, Communications Director, Country Manager
Procurement Director, Supply Chain Director, Category Manager, Channel Director, Head of Buying
Head of Distribution, Warehouse Manager, Transport Director, Fleet Director
If uncertainty is crippling your need to take on additional resource, an interim executive might be the answer
It’s human nature to feel a degree of helplessness in periods of uncertainty. And, while business likes nothing more than a high degree of predictability, that’s not what we’re experiencing right now. If it feels uncomfortable, that’s because it is!
And yet all the interim executives I speak to report a different feeling; they thrive in uncertain situations. They do their best work in ambiguous, high-stakes assignments. If you recognise your company in this article let’s talk about how we can overcome the uncertainty holding your resourcing activities back.
Are you paralysed or energised by uncertainty?
It’s a truism in business that higher uncertainty raises risk-aversion and lowers business momentum. Firms delay critical resourcing decisions and investment, and this, when aggregated, lowers wider economic growth. Momentum slows down.
Brexit-related uncertainty since the 2016 referendum has already caused the UK economy long-term damage, noted the Bank of England in August. What’s more, the BoE paints a gloomy future for UK economic investment. It forecasts this will be 20 percent lower in 2020 than the pre-referendum level. This is in stark contrast to the wider, international business climate, where growth, confidence and investment are still mostly rising.
What the BoE data doesn’t show, however, is the wide variation in circumstances and sentiment at the individual firm-level. All companies must navigate the same level of Brexit-related uncertainty. How they react varies massively.
Some will be bullish, because they still have huge market demand. Telecoms and media firms spring to mind. Meanwhile, others will be struggling to contain spiralling costs and falling sales, many High Street retailers, for example. Sector differences aside, other factors are the attitude of individual executives and the particular general management culture within the firm.
Those who see opportunity instead of just risk recognise that when everyone else stops investing, a significant competitive advantage is the prize for those that continue. This multiplies when the inevitable economic rebound begins. In the UK, it feels like that rebound could be a matter of months away, as the Brexit deal deadline looms ever closer. Whatever the outcome, some of the current fog will lift and business will pick up, perhaps strongly.
Uncertainty is a fact of life for interim executives. They experience it, often viscerally, when they first step back from the comforts of full-time employment for the freedom and sovereignty of professional interim life. It then becomes a fact of life that they learn to enjoy and embrace as they undertake more and more assignments. I can’t think of any of the hundreds of situations I’ve helped clients resolve which didn’t come with a high degree of uncertainty.
What all these clients have in common is that they already knew, or quickly realised, that interims are lower-risk during uncertain times. They’re sensibly over-qualified (in a positive sense) and faster to hire than permanent execs. It takes a few days instead of many months. They’re no costlier when you factor in the hiring cost and total renumeration package, plus employer’s tax contributions. Ask me for the comparison figures if you doubt this!
And they come with significantly higher flexibility – no notice periods or severance payments.
Bringing in interims is a great way to lead and resource stalled or impending projects. Or to plug a gap in a senior team with a critical skills deficit, or surprise departure/absence.
These are just some of the many benefits Osprey Clarke clients have experienced:
There will always be people who take a ‘let’s wait to see’ approach to decision-making. This is especially so during periods of high uncertainty. Of course, doing nothing may sometimes be exactly the right decision. But smart leaders recognise the difference between this and decision-making paralysed by uncertainty and fear. Personally, I find uncertainty energising. How about you?
Filtering out interim imposters will
increase the certainty of your project’s success
By all accounts we’re now living in the fake news era. In business, as in life, it seems fewer things than ever are certain. But that doesn’t mean demand for certainty is falling. Quite the opposite, in fact, if the people I meet in senior-level roles are anything to go by. These executives are continually searching for strategies and approaches that deliver increased certainty of outcome, particularly for complex projects.
When these projects fall outside business-as-usual, or are in some way critical and urgent, they often demand skills, talent and experience the organisation doesn’t have; resources it may not even need permanently. That’s why there’s a healthy market for interim executives.
Finding interims today takes just a few clicks. More people than ever selfidentify with the word. LinkedIn and Google searches will reveal competent-looking people in seconds. But less-easy is what comes next: thoroughly vetting and credentials-checking those found.
LinkedIn profiles and CVs are self-published tools. Everyone looks impeccable, but nothing can be taken as-read. Proper due-diligence is vital. But this takes time to do thoroughly. And when there’s a degree of urgency involved - as there so-often is - it’s just too tempting to skimp on vetting and press on, regardless.
Giving in to that urge is a sure-fire way to lower certainty of outcome, raising the risk of failure.
The best interims will deliver over and above the project expectations. But there are fewer than most people imagine, and they often have limited availability. A large proportion will synchronise their assignment exits and entries with care. Understanding who these people are, and when they will be thinking about something new, takes a significant time investment.
Careful screening is not just about checking their capabilities, integrity and achievements. It’s also about understanding their personalities and what makes them tick as individuals. This only happens over several encounters, often after many months, and is a critical part of the qualification process.
Getting to know them personally is the only way to precision-match an individual to the assignment in question. And if you’re not getting a precise match, how is that adding to certainty of outcome?
What, then, can you do to improve the odds? Here are some examples of what we look for when someone seeks Osprey Clarke’s representation as an interim.
We begin by probing the individual’s motivation. Are they committed to a long-term career as an interim? Or are they filling in time between employed positions? We will ask about the times when they have walked away from potential assignments, as well as those where they were successfully appointed. Both can be revealing in many, useful ways.
All interim assignments change once underway. Sometimes this is fundamental and by design; occasionally, it’s sudden and by surprise. We probe to understand the interim’s history of such situations. We want to understand how they approach ambiguity and deal with unknowns.
We may ask how they feel about fees linked to the pro-rata salary of a permanently employed executive. If they don’t flinch at the idea, it’s a sign that they haven’t understood the interim value proposition or their own worth. On that point, we’ll ask about their personal value proposition. We won’t use that term, but we will be looking to see if they’ve thought about what it is that only they can bring to the table. What evidence they use to underpin their claims. No clear articulation of this is another warning sign.
If you are confident enough to do-it-yourself, and can invest the time, asking questions like these will help qualify an interim executive’s credentials and capabilities. For everyone else, there are the interim service providers (ISPs) – intermediaries like Osprey Clarke, who act as match-makers.
However, all is not what it appears here too. Ten years ago, ISPs were almost all boutique-scale specialists that did nothing else. Now, squeezed on fees and lured by the prospect of higher margins, many generalist recruiters have entered the market.
They’ve copied the language and promises of ISPs and can be superficially attractive. And they’re much less selective in adding CVs to their books.
Here’s a ten-point checklist you can use to filter out the pretenders from the real thing.
Following the approach outlined here, should give you a solid foundation to avoid the imposters. It will take you much closer to that elusive certainty you’re looking for in project delivery using interim executives.
But if you’re still not ready to risk a DIY approach, get in touch. We are confident we can take you closer still.
If you want the best interim executives in your business, look for these character traits
There are now thousands of people calling themselves interim managers or executives. However, only a tiny percentage can genuinely claim to be at the top of their game. So how can you spot them? Here are five of the most important character traits to look out for:
1. Natural, intuitive communicators
Top-flight interims instinctively know how to communicate to build strong relationships. They adapt their style for all levels, from the front-lines all the way up to the boardroom. They know not only what they need to say and when, but how to say it appropriately for the circumstances. They understand that many failed projects have a common root in poor communications, so they focus on open dialogue and early, clear communication. They understand and practice the skill of active listening to tease out underlying issues. They know that repetition is important to cement understanding. They use metaphors, symbols, stories and words to motivate people. They can make natural resistance to change melt away and lower barriers to success.
They have no emotional ties or legacy with the business. This lack of sentimentally doesn’t mean they are cold and calculating, or that they have no sense of history. It means they are open-minded in defining the best, recommended approach. They get to this point by carrying out a thorough diagnosis of the situation and uncovering key facts, not by listening to opinion or sentiment. They may not be commercially-invested in the company, but they are personally-invested in delivering outstanding results for it.
They have already rejected the 'comfort blanket' of employment and its associated benefits. They've chosen to pit their talent and skills in the open market. Unlike employees, they have no fear of losing their job. They accept they are dispensable and are not hired for the long term. This gives them the freedom to speak frankly, without worrying about repercussions. They will not be afraid to ask the difficult questions. To point out the obvious issues and begin challenging conversations. Rather like Nanny McPhee, they understand that “when they are needed but not wanted, then they must stay. When they are wanted but no longer needed, they must go.”
They use their previous management experiences to quickly assess the situation, to understand what is important and what must be done. To know what to ignore and what success looks like. They are not ‘steady-state’ managers, but enablers of change and transformation. Because they’ve understood that they are only as good as their last project, they stay motivated. They seek added value and over-delivery everywhere.
They are chameleon-like in this regard. They can adapt to any position and all levels of operations or management. It's the result of many years in industry, followed by the challenges of multiple interim assignments. If they happen to have any consultancy training, they'll also know how to implement. Not simply advise. They instinctively react to the needs of every situation, both strategic and tactical. They thrive on ambiguity and relish restoring clear-headed order to commercial chaos. Having decided to act under their own steam or in a team, they will present multi-layered specialist skills and experiences. Or transferable, general capabilities, depending on the assignment circumstances. And they understand how to adapt these qualities to deliver the most effective results quickly.
Common character traits like these will not be apparent from the usual information sources. You're unlikely to find them in CVs, on LinkedIn and personal websites. They are best uncovered by talking to the person you’re thinking of engaging.
Better still, talk to their references and ask character-specific questions. It takes time to carry out this level of due diligence, but the effort will always be worthwhile. It lowers your exposure to engaging the wrong person. And makes the decision of who to appoint so much easier.
Alternatively, you can cut to the chase
Allow a specialist intermediary like Osprey Clarke to do the hard work for you. Identifying, then building relationships with top-flight interims is what we do.
Does your company need more ‘negative capability’?