With all the talk of AI and ChatGPT you’d be forgiven for thinking that hiring staff has, over night, become so last century! This past week I’ve seen a LinkedIn post suggesting that the next billion-dollar company will only have 3 staff, followed by a swift rebuttal from Tom Goodwin reminding us that whilst WhatsApp had a head count of 55 when it was acquired, this is most definitely not the norm’.
Back in the world where human knowledge and expertise remain valuable, how you staff up to drive your business forward is well worth exploring. Here we’ll examine 2 options which have strong appeal for smaller and medium sized businesses, although also viable, in specific situations, for larger organisations.
One approach is the interim manager.
Again, this appointment may well come where a key growth phase requires a specific blend of experience and skills, or as a result of a leader exiting the business, leaving a capability void at a critical time.
Whilst the more fractional C-level hire (keep reading to learn more about this one!) is working on a shared resource basis, the interim manager is working full-time for you, on a limited time engagement (which could be as long as 6 months).
The common element here is skill set, and impact. You are looking to amplify capability, tapping into expertise, maximising a short-term impact. The interim hire is being brought onboard to gain input as an external expert. Fresh eyes mean clear vision for what does and doesn’t deliver on your stated business and organisational goals.
Organisations taking any approach like interim are hiring for a skillset which serves a specific need, at a specific time. The focus here is on outcomes. This is a vital point of emphasis, as goals for the business may not always align with goals for staff; something serious to consider when introducing an external expert on a task specific project. The upside: uncluttered by internal politics. The downside: may need to manage in a way that has cultural implications for your organisation (which can also be an upside).
Working to achieve clear goals, which may also include a timeframe, the interim manager will need clear briefing on the current situation, and the requirements of key stakeholders, if they are to deliver the desired outcome. A succession plan, or hand over phase, will also need to be factored into the engagement, ensuring the interim manager concludes their work in a way which provides a smooth accession or transition phase.
Another approach is fractional hire – although this is mostly USA based and is just barely trickling over to the UK. We still think it’s worth mentioned as trends adopt.
The opportunity to engage a highly experienced senior C-level expert is something which has particular appeal for small and medium sized businesses looking to accelerate growth, and/or attract investors. The challenge: Budget.
This is where the fractional hire comes into its own. Hired on a part-time, hourly, basis, the fractional C-level appointment offers your business access to highly experienced capability, with insights gained working for larger organisations, at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire. Something which will require serious consideration: The business will need capability in place to action the plans laid out by your fractional C-level hire. Taking the CMO as the example:
- Who’s doing the daily work, inbetween your fractional CMO allocated time?
- is your marketing team in house, or do you have an outsourced relationship with an Agency?
- How will you manage and measure quantity and quality of work in between your fractional CMO allocated time?
We mention this as, critically, there is ownership and accountability with a fractional hire, something which is potentially the biggest limiting factor when hiring a ‘consultant’. Your fractional C-level hire is doing the job on an agreed amount of hours per week or month, whilst a consultant is, typically, advising, not doing.
And if you’re looking for a way to boost your business performance, fill a skills gap, or manage a change project, we have a vast network of qualified & vetted interim professionals who are ready to start!