Hitting the Ground, not Hard, but Running

Hitting the Ground, not Hard, but Running

A client considering taking on the services of an interim manager to, ‘hit the ground running’, may feel apprehensive at the sudden ‘jolt’ this may have on their presumably, already troubled, business. Yet, this over used phrase is useful when describing an experienced interim starting a new assignment, providing it’s not taken too literally. Far from rushing to deliver loads of ‘stuff’, the truth is far more subtle.

Starting a new interim assignment may be likened to a paratrooper landing in a battle-zone. Another phrase implying sudden dramatic impact? Let’s consider. Like a paratrooper the interim drops overnight into an, often volatile, environment with a clear mission to deliver their brief. The first hours and days are critical. During this phase the interim will gain a swift impression of whether the brief is aligned with the reality they observe on the ground. Tracking down all the stakeholders is the first task. These are often not the obvious ones like key contact or Board. Many interims have an internal ‘list’ of stakeholders to find in apparently unrelated areas.

This ability to navigate an organisation and to be immediately credible allows the interim to test and more finely tune the deliverables of the brief with the client within 7-10 days.

So, how does the experienced interim achieve this smooth, seamless integration into an organisation and yet it seem to the client as if they have “always” been there? This is the ability to ‘hit the ground running’…

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About

Liz Bowes is a senior Interim Executive specialising in providing clients with Human Resource solutions. She focuses on delivering organisation 'bespoke' change & organisation capability to compelling deadlines. Perceptive and pragmatic she has experience within broad range of sectors, including Telecoms, Healthcare, Retail & FMCG.

   

Your Say

  • Nic Vine

    I wholly agree with the content of this blog, and the one posted in June by Nick entitled “Don’t Hit The Ground Running”. Despite the opposing titles they address the same challenge. I would like to answer, from my experience, the question at the end of both blogs.

    I believe the phrase “hit the ground running” is understood to mean, in this business context, the alternative to an induction period where the new arrival is passive for a period of days or even weeks. The experienced interim, who is typically and deliberatley over-qualified for the role, is active from day one, because they know the things to look for and the questions to ask.

    I do this using three components: I arrive as prepared and briefed as possible (on the whole company not just the role or division); I am quick-witted, adaptable, good-humoured and a good observer of people (crucial to speak the company language and gain early trust); I have in my mind a lean toolbox of industry standards, good practices and techniques that have worked before (to be deployed sensitively as required and at the right moments).