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Top 10 Tips for Interim Managers

By 20 November 2015 No Comments

Interim Managers are senior, skilled and experienced managers who are able to step into senior manager / director / expert roles in client organisations and add value very quickly. They need to be confident individuals, who combine considerable ability to bring fresh ideas and ways of doing things with the ability to listen, build consensus and lead. They will assume management responsibility (including, for instance, managing staff) and take executive decisions to the extent of their delegated authority. They offer advice but also take executive decisions and action.

Interim Managers normally work for a client for between 3 and 6 months while another arrangement is put in place.

Lyndall Stein’s Top Ten Tips for Interim Managers

  1. Get into ‘brace’ position and listen. Very seriously, you have no induction and it’s up to you to do the accelerated learning.
  2. Be democratic and do not assume that your most important social tool for information and credibility is the boss – those in crucial admin exec roles usually know more about the organisational levers than anyone.
  3. You need to add value and do it quickly but your powers are limited so accept that real, big strategic change happens with sweat and struggle which will take years not months.
  4. Ask the difficult questions – people understand that you are objective and will not be ‘feathering your own nest’.
  5. Be straightforward and honest but don’t be a ‘clever clogs’. It’s unlikely that you will have totally breakthrough thinking in such a short time.
  6. You might have an interesting new approach, but present this with some humility and modesty. Most things may have been given an airing before; it takes big budgets and time to do real innovation.
  7. Respect the struggles that have gone before you and the people but do not let that prevent you offering new solutions.
  8. Remember that even though you will be off in a few months, you might want them to invite you back, so keep interested in their work and keep in touch with your ex colleagues. It’s also fun – you can get lonely rowing your own boat.
  9. Your best opportunities will be with those who already know your work, and will speak to others about you – warmly. Never forget: your reputation is everything!
  10. Prove that you care about the sector by being involved, keeping active and helping even those who cannot pay you – you are a part of the sector and should be a contributor, not just an extractor of value.


Lyndall Stein has worked building support for international organisations on a wide range of issues including the liberation of South Africa, access to treatments for HIV/AIDS and animal welfare. She has worked in a variety of roles, such as CEO and Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Campaigns, in a wide range of organisations including the African National Congress, ActionAid, Care International, Concern Worldwide, The Terrence Higgins Trust, The Big Issue, BOND, Practical Action and VSO.

She now specialises in senior interim assignments and has been a speaker and trainer both internationally and in the UK, most recently for the African Women’s Development Trust, SOS Children’s Villages and the Institute of Fundraising. She is a board member of Reprieve and NEF and a member of the programme advisory group for Care International UK.

Oxford HR’s new Interim service will be up and running by January 2016. If you are interested in signing up as an interim manager, please register on our website and upload your most recent CV. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at

If your organisation needs to fill an interim role, we’d love to help. Please direct any enquiries to Toby Weaver at

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