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Cath Everett

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SMEs the place to be, say interim managers


Many interim managers would prefer to work for small-to-medium-sized businesses even if they have to take a 50% pay cut to do so, according to research.

A survey of 1,500 interim managers commissioned by specialist provider Interim Partners found that 31% would prefer their next role to be in a small business compared with only 20% that were keen to work for a FTSE 100 company.
This was despite the fact that the average wage in smaller organisations was about half that of larger ones at only £350 per day compared with £757.
Doug Baird, Interim Partners’ managing director, said that smaller companies tended to be seen as less political, less bureaucratic and quicker to respond to market change than big business.
“Most people assume top managers prefer to work at large businesses. But there has been a shift towards seeing fast growth start-ups businesses as more satisfying to work at than major international corporations,” he explained.
There was also an increased understanding that, since the start of the recession, even working for a blue chip offered no protection from redundancy. This meant that joining small companies and helping them to grow had become more appealing, not least because they were more “embedded” in the community and their growth was important in terms of job creation – although it was important not to overplay this “small element of altruism” Baird said.
But the research also indicated that interim managers were also becoming more comfortable with the thought of performance-related pay. Some 82% of respondents were prepared to have more than 10% of their fee related to performance, while 39% were willing to up the figure to 20%.
“For SMEs, using performance-related pay could be a great way to get the quality management expertise without frontloading the business with staffing costs it cannot afford,” said Baird.

One Response

  1. Is this an ‘iffy’ survey finding? Management Today thinks it cou
    This survey story was also reported on Management Today’s web site. The writer there suggested this survey’s findings sound a bit iffy and I think he’s right. Here’s the link

    First, readers need to understand that there is a world of difference between a seasoned business veteran who has chosen to be a full-time interim executive and someone who has registered as an interim through necessity, perhaps after being made redundant. It is the latter, I would suggest, who might take a 50% rate cut just to get an assignment (any assignment?). The best people, of which there are only a few hundred, don’t have to cut their rates because they have a verifiable track record and deliver demonstrable, lasting value at a large multiple of their day rate. We know this because we meet people like this every week. Second, true, career interims are not looking for security, otherwise why step off the corporate ladder? Security of employment is not something any professional interim either seeks or cares about. 

    We have two, long standing suppliers of professional interim executives in our group and neither of them recognise the findings of this survey as anything approaching a ‘trend’.

    Rob Walker, chief executive,
    The Cornhill Partnership Ltd
    BIE Interim Executive Ltd



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