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WORK LIFE - HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

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Confessions of an interim manager...
Confessions of an interim manager

Paul Stead, Interim manager

Interim managers float like a butterfly, sting like a bee?

Well, no, I don't think so either, but it did catch your attention. In a very positive way, there is something bee-like about a good interim manager - it's the pollination thing.

A good interim should join an organisation, learn from it, gather new experiences and take those on to his or her next position.

I undertake interim management, consultancy work, training and housing inspections, and my current interim assignment takes up 12 days a month. My experience of interim management is a very positive one. I find I can help people to learn and grow. If the position is to cover, say, a director, it can enable the staff you manage to flourish, especially if you are only there part time. On the days you are away, staff necessarily take on additional responsibilities. If the interim was on-site all the time, staff probably wouldn't be given the chance to take up the reins.

I spent a year as an interim director at a large metropolitan housing association, and found that, because I was only there for part of the week, it allowed the managers and heads of service the opportunity to grow and learn for themselves, to respond to the gap created by me not being there all the time.

The board asked: 'Why don't these people grow and develop like this when the usual directors are here?' It is an interesting and thought-provoking question, and one I can't claim to be able to answer.

It may just be that staff respond well to interim managers as they do not have any organisational baggage, and have a wide range of experience from the outside world. It can be difficult to find that combination of qualities within an organisation.

But my real point is that the interim should learn as well, and that is a good thing all round. A good interim will learn from all the organisations they have visited, and all the people they have worked with, soaking it up like a sponge. They can then take all those experiences with them to the next organisation. It's a spin-off for the next employer - they learn from your shared experiences.

I'm not saying that being an interim means you know any more, or are any better than anyone else - it just means you have been exposed to different organisations, different people, different experiences. If people see it in that positive way, and are willing to listen and learn, they can gain a lot from having an interim around - and, equally, the interim can learn from them.

I see my job as carrying on the good work that other people have already done and, hopefully, using my varied experience to improve on it.

Curriculum Vitae

-- Paul Stead is a senior manager with over 25 years' experience in the social housing sector. He worked for two large registered social landlords for 21 years, before starting his own consultancy and training business, PSA, in April 2001

-- As an affiliate housing inspector with the Audit Commission, he has carried out 10 housing inspections of councils in the north of England, and 10 'shadow' housing inspections of registered social landlords

-- He has undertaken a number of interim management positions with registered housing landlords at director level. He is part of The Pool, the interim and project management service of the Housing Quality Network.

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