Flintlock Directors, Graham Appleyard and Tasha Gladman are of one mind when it comes to understanding what it is that drives brands to take on an interim professional. Whilst it might be triggered by a vacancy, there are a number of consistent, underlying challenges that present a real opportunity to gain value from the interim experience.
“The key trigger,” says Tasha, “is when brands don’t have the resource. They haven’t got the internal capacity nor the capability to do something – either the personnel or the skills. It can be a big thorny issue that needs resolving and they haven’t got the head space to deal with it.”
Retailers as a whole are increasingly coming up against challenges when it comes to delivering truly integrated communications and getting the whole organisation working in a joined up way. This often comes down to variances in process and structure between marketing and commercial. Retailers are increasingly struggling to balance the short-term need to trade hard and the long-term strategic focus.
This is where our team at Flintlock can step in and lead an organisation to greater clarity and simplicity. One key theme that we see in almost every situation is that an organisation is doing too much. This inevitably leads to a lack of resource and capability. By driving simplicity and clarity we deliver interim resources to quickly bring the capability that the organisation needs.
As we are not emotionally connected to the organisation as the permanent team are, it makes decision-making more straightforward, and have more liberty to ask ‘why’.
Graham expands: “Many of our customers look at themselves and feel that they’re struggling in terms of resources, either to deliver existing plans or to run something very specific. They might not want to commit the time and money required to find and retain the right employee. An interim team offers flexibility, focus, speed – an instant solution.”
Our experts do not need to be hired for five days a week – we are typically hired for two to three days a week. As our interims are qualified and experienced to a high level, we can achieve goals efficiently. Equally, as a project progresses and the team develops, the work of our interim can be scaled back, to help manage a budget.
Lack of capability is another big issue that we can address. Graham cites an example situation: “A hospitality business that wants to branch out from restaurants to selling products in supermarkets might call on us. They may not have specialist understanding of new markets within the business and and one of our interim team can jump in to help bridge that gap.”
Most organisations don’t know they need an interim manager, and just look for one when there is a recruitment gap. However, if organisations take an honest look at their business performance they will often find that they are playing a reactive game to maintain market position. This can come from doing too much, rather than looking at ways to improve things. Or they could be under pressure from commercial teams or a lack of resources, and have lost focus on strategic matters, or find they can’t deliver something very specific. “That’s where we come in,” says Graham.