On my last day of a recent interim management engagement, my client team members escorted me to a wall in their office where they’d posted reminders of the work we had accomplished together. During the course of my interim assignment, this team and I had spent many hours developing strategy, designing workflows, and creating policy—in other words, implementing change. My team expressed their appreciation for my influence and vowed to return to this wall often to consider the question “What would Luanne do?” Although I would no longer be with them, they wanted to remember and sustain the change we had effected.
Organizations increasingly acknowledge that recruiting an interim manager is one of the most flexible, immediate, and effective resourcing solutions for access to top talent while they search for permanent leadership. An interim manager is an experienced executive resource who is engaged on a temporary basis and may be called on to assist an organization with building infrastructure, implementing change necessary for improved performance, restructuring an organization, or overseeing a critical project.
However, not all interim managers are considered equal. For healthcare organizations and medical networks, here are a few things you should expect from the best interim managers—those executives who have a proven track record of improving performance and driving positive, lasting change for their clients.
- The best interim managers identify and embrace opportunities for improvement. They recognize the need to create change, even where change might not initially be supported by everyone involved. Although effective interim managers acknowledge outcome as a main focus, they also understand their essential role in inspiring team members and cultivating an environment that will allow everyone to continue on course once the interim engagement is over.
- The best interim managers are excellent teachers and implementers. They pave the way for sustained, long-term change by providing knowledge through consistent education; in other words, they empower their team members by teaching them the skills they need to be successful in their individual roles. These interim managers also motivate their teams through consistent measurement, transparency, and accountability. They model, teach, coach, and hold team members accountable to what are often new methods and new behaviors.
- The best interim managers adapt quickly to new circumstances and situations. They understand that there is no one-size-fits-all model that works in every medical network, and they come to each new assignment with a flexible outlook. They are sensitive and respectful of an organization’s culture, and they take cultural considerations into account as they work to obtain maximum value during the organization’s time of transition.
- The best interim managers become trusted advisers and partners in the process of change. They work in tandem with team members and other executives to develop strategy and performance improvement, and they provide purpose and influence that remains long after they have departed.
Finding a permanent replacement to fill gaps in leadership can be a lengthy process, and the current healthcare environment will not afford medical networks a standstill. Choosing the right interim manager, at the right time, may make the difference between success and failure. The best interim executives bring a fresh set of eyes, medical network expertise, and a proven track record of performance improvement that leads to successful medical network management for their clients.