How to hire the right interim or fractional leader

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On the one hand, hiring an interim or fractional leader is considerably easier than hiring full-time: there’s no drawn-out search, no long-term contract, no salary-sized risk. On the other hand, taking on an interim or fractional leader is still a ‘hire’: companies need to find the right match.
But, fear not. This simple three-step guide is your ticket to making the perfect interim and fractional hire for your needs.

Step 1 - Define your need

Long before you create job adverts or contact external recruiters, highlighting why you need an interim or fractional leader should kickstart any hiring process.

For some, the ‘why’ might be the clear pain-point the company is facing, such as missing sales targets for two consecutive quarters. In this case, CEO-Founders should look at internal data – i.e. is there a pipeline creation issue or pipeline conversion issue – to determine ‘what you need’ and help produce a detailed role scope with realistic goals. For others, the ‘why’ solution might be less clear-cut and they might be looking for an interim or fractional leader to diagnose as well as treat a hidden commercial issue.

For example, Mosaic Smart Data approached Scalewise seeking an experienced commercial ‘guide’ and Fractional CRO, Sophie Carter, helped define what criteria was required.

“As a founder, you’re expected to know everything, but you don’t. Having someone with Sophie’s experience as a guide has been brilliant. We get on like a house on fire, but she also challenges me, helping me correct some of my rigid thinking, think through the organisation’s structure and avoid potential pitfalls”. Matthew Hodgson, CEO, Mosaic Smart Data

Step 2 - Match with the right leader

CEO-Founders hiring an interim or fractional leader want immediate impact. They want someone who can get up to speed quickly, someone with experience solving similar issues within a business at a similar stage of growth, someone with the skill sets to do the job at hand, and someone that is suited to their company culture and demands of the role.

But, CEO-Founders must also remember that interim and fractional leaders are looking for the right company for them. They have chosen a portfolio career as they enjoy having an impact on a variety of companies, whilst leveraging their unique strengths. A mis-match doesn’t benefit either side, so they will be thinking about cultural, personality, skills and growth stage alignment just as much as you should.

At Scalewise, we help facilitate the match in three stages: by first working with clients to create a detailed role brief; then creating a shortlist of suitable candidates from our wide network of interim and fractional leaders; and finally organising interviews to ensure there is a cultural chemistry from the get-go. For example, we matched Arctic Shores with Margo Hayward.

“Credit to Scalewise for not only having the breadth of sales leaders to choose from, but for working closely with me, having the right processes and asking the right questions to make sure we got the best match possible.” Robert Newry, CEO, Arctic Shores

Step 3 - Agree outcomes

This may sound obvious, but agreeing on a set of agreed outcomes works as a blueprint for success. From the outset, CEO-Founders should work with an interim or fractional leader to establish achievable objectives and expectations, as well as timelines and KPIs. Co-creation is key as the leader can input on what is possible in the desired time frame, while also outlining what support, information and access (i.e. can they speak to customers directly?) they need in order to achieve these goals.

In addition, there’s nothing worse than taking on an interim or fractional leader and then unilaterally shifting the goalposts during the partnership or not taking their advice. Therefore it’s crucial to agree on ways of working, especially regarding remit (what is their responsibility and what isn’t) and communications (i.e. how often and who needs to be updated on results), and then stick to these.

For example, Scalewise matched Re-Leased with interim CRO Jeremy Radcliffe. Together, Jeremy and Re-Leased agreed a remit and timeline on three core issues: rebuilding recruitment, remapping sales territories and coaching up the existing sales team.

“We asked for three things to solve and he went and solved them: doing what a great full-time VP would do, but even quicker. For an immediate impact like that, I would pay for an interim leader time and time again.” Sam Caulton, CFO, Re-Leased.

As simple as 1,2,3

At Scalewise, we appreciate that finding the right interim or fractional leader can be daunting, especially when it’s your first time using this model of working. That’s why we’re here to help guide you through every step. Do read our Ultimate Interim and Fractional Guide to find out more.

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