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Is it time to quit your day job and become an interim manager?

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We all know how the traditional career path played out. People took time getting an education to boost their employment prospects and then spent years – if not decades – building their career through jobs in their chosen industry. The idea was to build up a sustainable pension and retire comfortably, not long after their 65th birthday.

One look at the way younger generations are approaching the world reveals that this is no longer the case, as people are happy to jump between different roles and have more than one career over their working life. But these opportunities aren’t just unique to people the workforce. In fact, the idea that people can now create and live from a portfolio of work, rather than a continuous string of jobs, is perfectly suited to leaders and other executives who are looking to change their working lifestyles.

How will a portfolio of work change the way people make money?

The concept of jobs is now out of date, according to strategist and author Heather McGowan. She stated that the new world of work is comprised of income generation as opposed to just work.

The lines between education, career and retirement are now blurring. Overlapping fields are replacing set stages of a person’s life. As people focus on lifelong learning and jobs as we know them the idea of a developing a career through one job has become an outdated concept.

A portfolio of income generation, therefore, is usually made up of short-term employment opportunities and the ability to monetise assets. This last point is made possible with services such as Uber and Airbnb, both of which give private individuals the ability to earn money from their vehicles and property, respectively.

It’s not just people who are changing

The rise in short-term engagements and the need to create an income portfolio is brought on by the fact that the nature of jobs is also changing. Thomas Friedman found that it’s not a simple change either, as different roles are moving in unique directions, forcing people to adapt accordingly.

According to ideas from Friedman’s ‘Next New World Summit,’ jobs are moving in three directions. Some are moving up, meaning they demand higher levels of education and technical ability. A selection are moving down, becoming obsolete as technology takes over or they simply become irrelevant. Finally, others are moving across, fragmenting into more nuanced rolls or falling solely into the realm of short-term appointments. This where income generation portfolios begin to make sense for executives and business leaders.

What does this mean for management professionals?

So far, the idea of income generation sounds more targeted towards younger generations. However, it’s actually something that’s just as relevant to senior executives, especially those who want to move from full-time hours to more flexible arrangements.

These people have a wealth of experience and qualifications which they can draw from – skills which make them the perfect fit for businesses that need management expertise for short periods of time. Alternatively, people between jobs who want to build up their portfolio in the meantime are able to take on short-term assignments as they see fit.

The most important thing to remember, however, is to not equate this lifestyle with contracting. There are similarities, but interim management possesses its own unique qualities.

Defining interim management: Is it your next lifestyle?

While traditional management roles are associated with longevity, some business challenges only need short- to mid-term solutions. In other cases, especially for smaller entities, they simply may not have the budget to permanently appoint certain managers or executives.

If a business is rolling out a major new initiative and their current leadership team is lacking certain skills, interim managers are a cost-effective way to meet these challenges, especially if executives are already stretched.

In many cases, these people will be overqualified, boasting experience in roles as CIOs, CEOs and CFOs, and will be able to hit the ground running while delivering outcomes. They aren’t consultants, and shouldn’t be treated as such, because they’re there to do a job, deliver on outcomes and provide some mentoring along the way.

The major difference between interim managers and contractors is that they aren’t just there to do the job as per a brief. It’s about integrating with a team and pulling everything together as only someone with their experience will be able to do, while also  guiding others.

Interim managers can also be brought in while a company goes through a hiring process for permanent member of the executive team. This means the initial role isn’t neglected in the meantime – new hires can join the team seamlessly.

By Richard Appleby, TEC Alumni Chair

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