Periods of rapid growth require a special set of kid gloves. From cultural lurches to changing expectations and staff, rapid-growth environments shift with an unpredictable regularity.
The result can be a struggle for tenured talent and precarious footing for new hires. The good news is, there are people who not only handle rapid change without struggle, but who actually thrive in dynamic, organized chaos.
They’re interim hires — consultants — and they might be the antidote to your company’s rapid growth pains. Read on to find out who they are, what they do, and how to help them help you.
“Hiring new team members during a period of high growth is challenging in several ways. Aside from the logistics of identifying and recruiting the new talent needed to support the growth.”
Staying Sure-Footed During a Change of Pace
We’ve talked before about the value of the interim hire in a variety of situations. Let’s explore how interim hires are helpful during a company-wide change of pace.
Hiring new team members during a period of high growth is challenging in several ways. Aside from the logistics of identifying and recruiting the new talent needed to support the growth, there’s a culture challenge that shouldn’t be ignored.
In a high-growth environment, everything is unsettled, morphing. A growing business means more work. It can mean adding new customers and then adding new team members to serve them. It means implementing new processes and systems to support the growing needs of the business. Oftentimes, departments can outgrow the employees who got them there. This level of massive change will alter the culture drastically and lead to team stress.
It makes sense, then, to protect your team from two angles. First, you can take steps to put an emphasis on retaining your current team. Second, you can use a solid consultant onboarding process to bring in interim hires who aren’t fazed by this type of change. Plugging gaps with consultants while you’re figuring out your long-term hiring strategy can protect you from making reactionary decisions that might not be best in the long run.
For example, during a period of rapid growth, you need folks who can work at a very fast pace with little-to-no supervision or training — and that’s just what expert consultants do. You and your existing staff don’t have to expend the time or bandwidth to deeply train interim hires, because interim hires have done this before.
Highly specialized consultants also have the experience to offer unique perspectives, guidance, and counseling to leadership. While this level of growth is a new experience for your company, consultants have gone through it many times before in multiple engagements. They bring a measured, experienced outside viewpoint.
Regardless of the role, when you hire a consultant, you’re getting more than just the role — you’re getting a seasoned expert in the exact challenges you’re experiencing for the first time. The benefits you can glean from that kind of support are far-reaching and stabilizing.
What To (Not) Expect From Your Interim Hire
While an interim hire can — and should — bring multiple skills and benefits to the table, they’re not a full-time employee (FTE). As such, their profile will differ from a permanent hire’s. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate this difference and balance your company’s expectations when bringing an interim hire into the fold.
What To Expect
- Seasoned professionalism. An interim consultant should be a highly professional individual, capable of giving presentations and speaking to leadership directly and with confidence. Expect to be able to ask advice of this person; they should have experience to share about specific situations. They should be able to help you avoid foreseeable fumbles and mistakes.
- Stick-with-it-ness. An interim consultant will likely be open to — and even desirous of — working overtime. Because their tenure is predetermined and shorter than an FTE, interim hires tend to work full-throttle on a project. On a similar note, you should expect that the consultant will stay onboard for the duration of the engagement.
- High level of service. Finally, you should expect a superior level of communication from your recruitment partner. Whether it’s BVOH or someone else, your recruiter should be ensuring that the consultant is happy and doing what they need to be doing at all times.
What Not To Expect
- An FTE. An interim hire’s skill set and resume don’t look like an FTE’s, and they shouldn’t. It’s healthy for a consultant to have a profile reflecting many engagements, because they work in the “gig” economy. Their work trends are different from an FTE’s, whose multiple work experiences would be indicative of job-hopping.
- A perfect culture fit. Don’t worry if your hire isn’t the perfect culture fit. While they need to be professional and not disruptive, your culture is already in a state of flux during a period of rapid growth. The interim hire is not a long-term hire and will be gone when the culture rounds out into its new iteration.
- No company effort. While the interim hire is an expert in their field and may require no training to do their job, they still need onboarding at your company. They’ll need check-ins, feedback, and a systems overview. You don’t need to treat them like an FTE, but orienting them and welcoming them as a part of the team — albeit a temporary part — will help all parties maximize the relationship.
“Don’t worry if your hire isn’t the perfect culture fit. While they need to be professional and not disruptive, your culture is already in a state of flux during a period of rapid growth.”
The inherent flexibility of interim staffing has become a lifeline for companies learning new ways to do business amidst the global pandemic. Due to the record number of startups and available funding, anyone with high growth experience is highly sought after.
The current demand for experienced interim managers, directors, and executives outstrips the supply considerably. As the economy recovers and more venture capitalist money is funneled in, both established companies and startups are seizing the opportunity to hire short-term, specialized talent to drive growth, manage costs, and shepherd their companies through change.
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