How to manage a project team: The end of the interim's 'outsider' feeling (even in an age of IR35!)
One of the most appealing aspects of interim management is the flexibility to pick and choose the contracts that suit you and your life. However, this can be a double-edged sword as sometimes these can be long-term projects where you can get to know the organisation and key players and sometimes short-term where you are parachuted in and back out quickly. However, when multiple short-term projects stack up, a feeling of constantly being on the outside of a company’s culture can build up. Despite this feeling, and the actual definition of an ‘interim manager’ according to IR35, it is still important to be able to integrate with a team or department aiding your project to deliver effective management for the duration of your contract.
Although you’re not a permanent part of the company, you don’t need to stay on the outskirts of its working life and culture. You can dispel the ‘outsider’ feeling by:
- Getting to know your team in a ‘meet and greet’ scenario either in person or remotely
- Incorporate a ‘social space’ in your meetings with your project team to discuss non-work-related topics before getting down to business
- Invite the project team to offer their own suggestions and solutions to problems. This will help break down the barrier between you as the project manager solely steering the ship and being an open and adaptable leader that listens to good ideas. Your team will feel comfortable coming to you, further helping you feel like less of an outsider, whilst also enabling the success of the project in creatively reaching its KPIs.
However, integrating with your project team needs to be combined with effective leadership skills and management strategies.
3 effective management strategies for interim managers:
Establish clear communication from the onset of your project with your team. This includes keeping all members aware of updates to the project, timelines or KPIs, providing feedback and support with tasks and performance. Weekly meetings that go through what has been achieved and what is still outstanding will help make sure that your entire team is on the same page and knows what needs to be done to ensure the project stays on track.
Being able to effectively communicate the plan and overarching strategy, where they fit in and how their contributions and tasks will affect the project, will help your team onboard and adapt to your management style quickly, whilst also instilling confidence in you as a leader, even if only on an interim basis.
Strong management involves being able to be decisive with regards to your project. However, this can be affected by how much autonomy and authority you’ve been given to approve or make decisions, so make sure to clarify approval processes and your level of authority when you’re outlining the initial contract and project strategy.
But where you can, you should aim to be decisive so that your team can be constantly working towards your project’s KPIs. Being decisive also involves being able to assign tasks to people quickly, and to delegate when your time is better spent on higher-level tasks.
Set achievable goals and realistic timeframes
Your team will react positively to your leadership if they are aware of the clear goals they are striving towards and have enough time to achieve them. Often timeframes are constrained by external pressures from senior-level stakeholders, but you need to be open with your team when this occurs and encourage them to manage their time effectively and work together to achieve tight deadlines.
Oakwood Resources’ expertise in the interim management market can help you find the best assignments to fit your skill set, help you get started and ensure success for both yourself, your team and your stakeholders. If you wish to discuss interim management opportunities contact our specialist interim recruitment team who will be happy to talk with you.