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Guide to Becoming a Freelance Interim Manager

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Published:
October 13, 2022
Reading Time:
12 minutes
Leo
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

So, you’re thinking about starting a career in interim management. Well, you have made a good choice. There are indeed a lot of benefits of working in this role, which we’ll discuss later in this article.

But wait, here’s a little disclaimer: not every professional can become an interim manager. The thing is, there are several checkboxes that you must tick. For instance, educational qualifications and a particular type of work experience. Besides this, there are certain skill sets that are essential for success in this field.

In this article, you’ll learn whether or not interim management is the right career choice for you. So, let’s dive into it.

Who Can Become an Interim Manager

Let’s talk about qualifications first. A career in interim management is exciting, however, it’s not for everybody. Even though there are no specific educational requirements to become an interim manager, qualifications in some fields can help. For example, if you start an interim management role in a finance company, then a qualification in finance will surely help. So, if you want to work for an accounting firm as an interim manager, you’ll be required to be a chartered accountant—period! 

The same goes for energy, technology, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, and IT firms. The bottom line is, different industries have different educational requirements for interim managers. 

Does this mean that anybody who is qualified in the aforementioned areas can become an interim manager? Well, not quite. A very important part of interim management is senior leadership experience in a corporate setting. And no, taking a leadership course or earning an MBA doesn’t count. You’ll need actual and substantial experience in an executive role before. 

Lastly, you should be mentally prepared for contractual roles. Remember, interim means temporary. Even though you can have a long-term career in interim management, you’ll only last temporarily in any company. It’s crucial to be mentally prepared for such a lifestyle. The fact is, most people want to stick with one company on a long-term basis. They want to build alliances internally and climb the corporate ladder. If you’re this type of person, then interim management may not be for you. So, before you become an interim manager, become okay with changing companies frequently. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • To become an interim manager, you must have senior leadership experience in a corporate setting.
  • Field-related education is a must in many cases. For example, to be an interim manager in an accounting firm, you may be required to be a chartered accountant.
  • A desire to make things better along with impeccable communication skills are necessary for this role.
  • The benefits of this role are as follows: the freedom to choose projects, career breaks, and financial incentives.
  • New projects may be hard to find, but freelance consulting platforms like Consultport can be of great help.

5 Skills and Personal Traits Required for a Career in Interim Management 

Now that you have the basic idea of who can become an interim manager, let’s shed some light on some important skill sets. 

1. A desire to make things better

Change management is an important aspect of interim management. In fact, many times, interim managers are brought on board to implement a change. You see, bringing a new change in an organization is easier said than done. Employees may get upset, executives may disagree, and internal politics can take its toll. 

So, if you’re someone who is bold enough to point out what’s wrong and propose a better way, read on. In every organization, both leaders and staff can get used to the ‘usual way’ of working. But, as you may know, the business world is very dynamic. Customer demands and markets change frequently. This is why a change can make or break a company. And if you have the courage to plan and implement successful changes, you’ll shine as an interim manager. 

2. Communication skills

Interim management is all about high-level leadership. This is not the ‘assign tasks to juniors’ type of leadership. It goes way deeper than that. You may literally have to change existing attitudes and values in an organization. You may have to challenge the assumptions of even the oldest and most skilled employees. 

Also, at an analytical level, you will have to provide reports and analyses routinely. Your opinion will be expected for every major decision—whether it's strategy, budget, or organizational structure. All this will require you to have impeccable communication skills.

This is why you should be well-versed in something called top-down communication. The top-down method involves stating the end result first and moving on to the details later. So, basically, start with the “what”, then move on to the “how”, and finally, finish with “how exactly”.

If you want to read a detailed article on this, check out: How to Nail Top-Down Communication

3. A natural proclivity towards being result-oriented 

As an interim manager, you should know what you’re truly hired for. Your job is to get in, examine the company quickly, offer and implement recommendations, and provide results (this is important). Now, the last part, which is providing results, is exactly why they bring you on board. 

Your role may be temporary, but you’ll be expected to permanently change your employer’s organization. To do this, you must be results-oriented. Simply put, people who care about results deeply have a ‘win at any cost’ mindset. All that they look at is their goal, and they ignore any other thing that’s a potential hindrance. Yes, this sounds a bit brutal, but, as mentioned before, interim management may not be for everyone. 

4. The ability to adjust 

Working as a freelancer in interim management will bring you new challenges frequently. This is simply because things won’t always go as planned. For example, if you present a disruptive idea, like closing all retail stores and going fully online, not everyone may agree. When this happens, you’ll have to adjust your idea. So, if you can convince the board to close only 50% of retail stores and move online, consider it a victory. 

And that's just one example. There may be many cases in which you’ll have to be flexible. Even if you’re a leader, not everything will go your way. So, if you feel pressured in situations with uncertain outcomes, probably don’t get into interim management.

5. The ability to create winning strategies 

There are two types of people: the ones who create strategies, and the others who follow them. And as an interim manager, you have to be the former. While working as a freelancer in an interim management position, you’ll have to examine an organization from all angles. Then, you’ll have to present the best approaches to ensure long-term results. 

For example, you may find that many other companies are selling the same product as yours. So, to differentiate yourself, you can come up with a strategy—market domination through cost leadership. Although this may result in lower profits initially, in the long run, this may result in competitors leaving the industry. And in that case, your client can raise their prices again.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being an Interim Manager

Alright. Now that you have read some basic requirements for being an interim manager, what do you think? 

Do you think you have what it takes to become an interim manager? If the answer is yes, then that’s great. But there’s one more thing that you need to know. Even though there are some benefits to being an interim manager, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. That being said, let’s discuss some advantages and disadvantages of this profession.

Becoming a Freelance Interim Manager, Guide to Becoming a Freelance Interim Manager

Advantages of working as a freelance interim manager

  • New projects: Because you’ll be working as a freelancer for the short term, you will work on new projects often. This will keep you excited about your professional life.
  • Freedom: Of course, working as a freelancer comes with freedom. The word freelancer itself starts with ‘free’. So, you’ll be free to choose the projects and companies that you’re interested in. 
  • More time for yourself: After giving your 100% in one client engagement, you may take some time off before starting the next project. You could travel, work on a side project, or spend time with family in the meanwhile. 
  • Money: Yes, interim management is a lucrative line of work. According to Freelancer Map, a freelance interim manager can make a whopping $888 every day. 

Disadvantages of working as a freelance interim manager

  • Difficult challenges: We never said that a career in interim management is going to be easy. But hey, if it was that easy, everyone would become an interim manager. 
  • Long commutes: A client may not always agree to a work-from-home arrangement. And oftentimes, you may be required to travel long distances.  
  • You have to stay the course: Unlike a permanent employee who can leave anytime, you have to stay and complete the project. So, just because another client is offering you more money, you can’t just leave the current one. 
  • Finding new projects: You’ll have to look for new interim management positions yourself. Because once a short-term project ends, you’ll basically have no work. This may be a stressful period for many, but there’s a solution to it. Let’s discuss it in the final paragraph.

In Conclusion

You see, you could either network with a hundred people at an event, message a thousand people on LinkedIn, or simply contact a freelance consulting platform. These platforms can easily connect you with many clients who are actively looking for interim managers. 

Here at Consultport, we have thousands of well-experienced professionals in our talent pool. Many of our projects are staffed within 48 hours. That’s right—just two days. We have found high-paying and exciting projects for many freelancers relatively quicker than other platforms.

So, if you want to be one of those freelancers, get in touch now. 

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