Using Interim Managers to Deliver an Export Strategy

Nearly three-quarters of companies we questioned said Brexit has had no impact on their export strategies, 17% reported that it has made them more focused on looking beyond Europe for growth and 10% said that it has made them more determined to develop their export business.

Although it’s good to note that UK businesses are focused on growing their overseas operations, international business comes with its own set of challenges. A key one is finding the right people for each territory/task.

Interim Managers & International Business

Often those required to set up a new overseas operation are highly specialist hires with specific experience. For this reason, many companies turn to interim managers in the first instance to set up and support international expansion.

This is because interims are rapidly deployable, heavily results-focused and can be hand-picked to have exactly the right skill set and language capabilities, making them ideal for short to medium term overseas roles – where a company is making its first steps towards establishing itself in a new market.  This approach also enables companies to take their time to recruit the best permanent team to manage their international work in the long term, when they know it is going to be a success.

Some companies such as IMI Critical Engineering have proven extremely adept at deploying interim managers for overseas roles.

However, not everyone is used to recruiting and working with interim managers.  So we thought we’d share some of the key advice we always pass on to our clients:

Top Tips for Working with Interim Managers

– Be very clear when briefing the interim management agency, so that you get the right candidate first time

– Ensure the interim manager understands your needs right from the start and keeps within those parameters. Don’t allow mission creep, or changing of the goal posts

– Agree on set timescales for delivery of those aims

– Hold regular reviews during the assignment to ensure it is on track

– Ensure your existing team understands what the interim is going to do and why

– Also explain that the interim is fulfilling a temporary role requiring a specific set of skills or experience: “This is someone you can benefit and learn from.” That will help to ensure that staff don’t feel threatened or try to undermine the interim, but will instead actively support their work

– The interim manager will have a wealth of experience and a valuable external perspective; don’t be afraid to use those valuable qualities

– Promote a proper transfer of skills and knowledge from the interim manager to your team at the end of the assignment

To help businesses with their export plans, we asked some of the UK’s most successful interim managers, many of whom have helped develop international businesses, to share their advice.  We’ve pulled this together into a free download ‘the art of international business.’ Get your copy here and of course, if you are looking for an interim or permanent senior executive to help develop your export business, do get in touch