The interim management market is booming – also in the HR sector
The staff shortage is reaching the management level, and the need for HR experts is also high. In times of need, many companies hire managers to temporarily direct tasks and projects.
A recent article in Personalwirtschaftonline – Here is a summary
They come to leave after their work is done. Whereas interim management was initially the domain of experienced turnaround managers, companies now hire specialized executives to set up production facilities abroad, migrate IT infrastructures to other platforms, or devise new HR strategies and immediately implement them in practical measures. Whereas higher semesters once dominated the scene, today an astonishing number of 30- to 40-year-olds are making their mark on interim management – and performing highly qualified temporary work in its purest form.
Independent experts with leadership experience are in increasing demand today. Especially in the broad-based SME sector, the engine of the German economy, the fire is blazing. While the companies were able to keep their heads above water to some extent during the pandemic thanks to government aid, they are now struggling with unexpectedly rising energy prices, a lack of raw materials and faltering supply chains. As if this were not bad enough, almost all medium-sized companies, from craft businesses to internationally positioned hidden champions, are confronted with a rampant shortage of skilled workers and managers. Any help from outside therefore comes at the right time.
Turnaround requirements are increasing
..., this is also observed by the relevant associations, the Dachgesellschaft Deutsches Interim Management (DDIM) and the Arbeitskreis Interim Management Provider (AIMP). “While the market is reaching “pre-Corona crisis levels” in the current year” according to AIMP Vice Chairman and GOiNTERIM Managing Director, Martin Mayr, and “frequently postponed projects are now being tackled,” DDIM Board Chair, Marei Strack, recognizes a particular need for expertise in General Management, Finance and HR.
Causes of the increase in HR importance
If one follows the associations, HR issues have recently gained noticeably in importance as triggers for interim management. DDIM asked interim managers and providers about this. Result: If interim managers consider HR to be the second most important topic after general management, providers even see HR together with finance in first place. Strack: “HR has finally arrived in the strategy-shaping environment.”
Mayr, managing director of interim management provider GOiNTERIM, attributes this increase in importance to several causes. Accordingly, while many companies are resorting to downsizing measures, for example by renegotiating employment contracts, others are looking to reorganize. But to do so, they need the right specialists and managers, “which is why interim managers are also in demand for recruiting as well as strategic HR management.”
But even in HR’s day-to-day business, nothing progresses without knowledgeable pilots, for example in digitization. “IT competence is often only very rudimentary,” explains DDIM boss Strack, “if, for example, applicant management is still handled via e-mail.” Interim managers would also have to give their clients a helping hand with payroll. Katharina Krebs, for example, has been in business as an interim manager for many years. “Every week I get five inquiries,” says the former HR manager and HR development expert, confirming how much HR expertise is in demand in the market.
Recruiting is often the trigger
Why specifically do companies turn to an experienced HR leader? As Krebs, HR interim manager, observes, recruiting is often the trigger. Recruiting personnel has long been a task for which “experts instead of clerks” are needed. Furthermore, interim managers are desired in the role of HR business partner. They are to perform overlapping tasks, such as accompanying necessary changes and improving teamwork and leadership.
Which brings Krebs to another task for interim managers – guiding executives to invest more in employee retention in light of the growing number of voluntary terminations. “However, this is quite complicated under remote conditions.” Leading hybrid teams is too much for many managers. Speaking of remote: According to Krebs, it is not only the contractual aspects that are handled virtually with interim managers. The job now also runs predominantly remotely – something that would “never have occurred” to clients before Corona.
Self-employed HR managers as an alternative?
This could be a good opportunity for the German Association of Self-Employed Personnel Managers (BVSP) to present itself as an alternative to HR interim management. After all, the association asks its 50- to 70-year-old HR experts to attend internal training three times a year. According to CEO Olaf Gärtner, as independent entrepreneurs with operational HR management experience, they “also have to take risks from time to time,” for which they protect themselves with financial loss and business liability insurance – which, by the way, also eliminates any suspicion of bogus self-employment. Younger interim managers in particular, who may be well-versed in digitalization or recruiting, lack “experience in the general HR context and an overview,” says Gärtner, explaining another aspect with which the HR experts want to differentiate themselves from their competitors in interim management.
On closer inspection, however, the profiling approaches threaten to lose their impact. Some association members offer themselves on their websites according to the belly-shop principle: Interim management – sure. Management consulting – anyway. Reason: Many independent personnel managers are also members of the DDIM, the Bundesverband mittelständische Wirtschaft or the Bundesverband der KMU-Berater, Fachgruppe Personal. The customer wants to know where he stands. The BVSP would have to make improvements here.
Conclusion: In the current situation with the adverse framework conditions, companies are looking for support especially in the personnel and human resources area. HR Interim Managers are in high demand, in many topics and issues.
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