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Ok - you’ve heard of interim and fractional leadership. You might even know how they’ll benefit your company, but how do you get a go about getting one? How will you work with them? What if it all goes pear-shaped? Don’t you worry - you’re not the only person thinking the same thing.
Based on hundreds of calls with scale-up leaders, these are our 10 most frequently asked questions about interim and fractional leaders.
1. How does Scalewise place the right interim/fractional candidate?
We’ll help you define what you need and produce a detailed role brief with realistic goals. This goes beyond a job description, capturing the specific leader profile required and clear deliverables. Then we’ll produce a shortlist of suitable candidates (based on your needs, culture and leadership style) from our wide network of experienced interim and fractional commercial leaders. Finally, we’ll organise interviews to ensure there is a cultural chemistry and expertise alignment from the outset.
2. How experienced are the interim and fractional candidates?
3. What are the standard deliverables an interim and fractional leader can achieve?
Instead of joining with a wide-ranging brief, interim and fractional leaders focus on pre-agreed objectives. During the engagement, they will implement and execute a pre-agreed plan, so it’s crucial to agree on these objectives, deadlines and KPIs beforehand.
For example, the five most common tasks for an interim VP of Sales include restructuring the sales process, devising a coherent commercial strategy with company-wide buy-in, improving sales team performance and advising on sales hires (i.e. SDRs, AEs or even their full-time replacement).
4. What happens if my interim or fractional leader doesn’t work out?
Scalewise’s matching process vastly minimises the risk of a bad partnership. However, if the partnership is not working, it’s easy to terminate the relationship as there’s no long-term contract (you take out a month-by-month contract with Scalewise, not the leader).
At Scalewise, we find the reverse is usually true. Companies either hire their interim/fractional leader full-time (this happens in 35% of cases at Scalewise) or they decide they no longer need support in one area (i.e. sales) and want support in another area (i.e. marketing). With Scalewise, moving from a fractional sales leader to a fractional marketing leader is simple.
5. How do employees respond to being managed by someone on an interim or fractional basis?
Interim and fractional leaders are not hands-off consultants, but highly-experienced commercial leaders who join with a clear mandate and instantly command respect from the team due to their previous experience. Employees respond well to their ‘external’ status as it doesn’t disrupt the internal team dynamic (and avoids office politics) and enables them to objectively make swift strategic decisions (not decisions based on bias or nostalgia).
However, it’s important for the leadership team to support the fractional leader and make it clear to employees that they have the authority to make changes (it helps if an internal leader introduces a fractional to all the key divisions within the business at the start).
6. How long does it take to hire an interim and fractional leader?
Unlike full-time commercial hires (which take on average 6 months+), interim and fractional leaders are placed within 3-4 weeks and can make their mark within the first quarter. This short time frame is possible thanks to Scalewise’s unrivalled network of revenue leaders and the idiosyncrasies of the interim-fractional model (i.e. they don’t need company-wide onboarding and can dive into pre-agreed tasks straight away).
7. Do interim and fractional leaders often join full-time after working with a company?
Some companies use the interim-fractional model as a ‘try before you buy’, enabling them to take on a commercial leader quickly to address immediate issues, then asking the leader to help find a full-time replacement and manage the transition.
Occasionally, interim and fractional leaders join the company full-time afterwards. At Scalewise, this happens in 1 in 3 placements, although it’s more likely for an interim to join full-time than a fractional leader (most fractionals have chosen a portfolio career for the flexibility and diversity of the roles). If you’re looking for a leader that will eventually transition to full-time, it’s worth being upfront about this in the matching stage. Bear in mind that your opinions on whether you need a full-time replacement may also change after seeing the impact of the interim-fractional model.
8. Who is the contract with: Scalewise or the interim/fractional leader?
Interim and fractional leaders placed through Scalewise are contracted to Scalewise, not your company. That means we can place them quickly and easily without you needing to negotiate payment terms or waste any time setting up contracts and billing relationships with lots of different leaders. It also makes it easier to change commercial support if required (i.e. using a fractional Customer Success leader after working with a fractional CMO).
9. When and how do interim and fractional leaders work?
Unlike a coach or a consultant, interim and fractionals are hands-on leaders who get stuck in and get things done. At the outset, they will agree working schedules, practices and processes with you, including days of the week, communication channels, check-ins and access to the wider team.
For example, an interim leader tends to work exclusively for your company (4-5 days per week) in a hybrid capacity (part in-office, part remotely). A fractional leader works part-time (i.e. three days’ work spread out across the week to ensure responsiveness to company needs) in a hybrid capacity for a few companies concurrently. No matter the working agreement, though, it’s crucial to schedule frequent catch-ups (i.e. one hour per week) to discuss updates, barriers and progress.
10. How do I know interim and fractional leaders are motivated to work for my business?
Interim and fractional leaders are scaling professionals. To get roles, they need a strong catalogue of past successes, positive case studies of their previous interim and fractional work, and supportive references. As such, they always commit to the role whole-heartedly.
Yet, more importantly, they are motivated by enjoyment. They have chosen a portfolio career as they love taking on new challenges and sharing their insights to help companies grow, so the more fulfilling the role, the more the interim and frictional leader will go above and beyond.