You’ve heard of Executive Interim, but how does it work?

Matt, who heads up the Executive Interim function, talks here about HR Executive Interim and answers most of your questions.  Any he hasn’t answered just give him a call or email him!

Matt Long – Director, Executive Interim & Contracting

But before we get into that, let’s find out a bit more about Matt himself.

Matt, how long have you been in HR recruitment?

I’ve recruited in both London and Sydney and started to specialise in HR way back in 2005.

I believe the key to successful placements comes from gaining an in-depth understanding of organisational structure, culture and business needs and matching candidates accordingly. It is only when I can achieve this fit that I will put a candidate forward for a role.

I also believe that is why I’ve got such a consistently good track record of happy clients!

How long have you been with Peoplecorp?

I joined Peoplecorp in 2014 as a Principal Consultant.  I’m now a Director with the company and head up the EIM function.

Matt, why are you so passionate about placing EIM’s?

I’m totally a results person who enjoys pace and generally clients want a pretty fast turnaround.

Give me a brief and let me go away and find the right person for you.  Not just the right person but exactly the right person!   That’s what I really enjoy doing and I get a kick out of seeing it all come together. I also like to give clients good value for money.

I also believe strongly in the value of the role of the EIM.  Clients benefit from having an experienced person, with the skills to deliver.  They get an results-orientated independent person, with a fresh perspective ready to do a good job and with no axe to grind or political bias.

What is the difference between an interim executive and an HR contractor?

The term Interim has many different meanings in corporate and is often open to interpretation.  For us it generally starts with level and background. The term originated as it used to be a much narrower focus, in that it described someone who stepped in on an interim basis to cover a role while the company was searching for a replacement.  It has broadened out a lot since then and now encompasses specialist and high-level projects or initiatives.   Given the experience level required for EIM assignments, Executive Interims have generally operated at C-suite level.  HR contracting would peak at the senior manager level.

Why use an interim executive? 

You get a flexible, experienced resource when you need it to do the work you want doing.  HR EIMs can be a cost effective solution as they are often more experienced than you would recruit permanently into a similar position so they’re able to hit the ground running.

What’s more they’ll have a proven track record and will have gone through a selection process to make sure they’re not only technically able but that they’ll fit your culture and environment.

What types of assignments are HR EIMs needed for ?

Sometimes a business simply needs someone to take over the HR reins while they’re searching for someone to take on the role permanently.  HR EIMs are a great fit for this sort of situation.

Or the assignment could be as a result of a need to change direction or culture.  That’s where experience and safe hands are needed to help develop and/or implement strategy.

M&As and Venture Capital Start Ups are more great examples where experienced resource is needed in the short term perhaps to do due diligence or integration or in the case of start ups to get the HR function developed and a People Strategy put in place and implemented.

Systems implementations, EBA/IR/ER negotiations, Remuneration Reviews, Benchmarking are all typical of the types of projects.

Upsizing, downsizing…..the list goes on and on!

What are the keys to a successful assignment?

The most successful assignments are those where the EIM has been given a full brief with clear goals.  That doesn’t mean a state of flux and ambiguity can’t also be successful.  In that case sometimes part of the brief is to bring clarity to that situation.  It’s really about setting goals and deliverables.

Communication and information are the other key issues.  EIMs will get to grips with things more quickly and make better informed decisions if they know the ground rules, the influencers and where the main challenges will come from.  The more information the better.

What sort of people are attracted to HR EIM work? 

HR professionals who have a background operating at C-suite or Executive levels and who have decided to move out of permanent corporate roles.  They also tend to be comfortable with a flexible working style are highly adaptable and very comfortable reading people and situations quickly.  Apart from being technically able, a common thread is that they are all goal oriented and self motivated.

You mentioned flexibility and adaptability.  How come? 

These work well for both the EIM and the client.  It may be that a client needs someone to work full time for the first four weeks of an assignment and then pare back to 3 days a week for the remainder of the term.  HR EIMs can be as flexible as that.  Or it may be that you start thinking  part time will work well and then find it doesn’t.  EIMs are generally able to adapt to that situation.  They are also excellent in terms of adapting to different business cultures….even those mini cultures you tend to find in many organisations.

I’m not sure if I need an EIM or a senior contractor? How do I decide? 

You can call me or either of my colleagues Emma Vickers or Renee Clarke to talk it through.  However, a general rule of thumb is that EIM daily rates generally start at around $1000.   Less than that would be a senior contractor.