Choice : Career Development or Maintaining of Strong Teams?

Experienced interim managers know that each mission requires adaptation, which will be more or less easy.

Even if broad general principles often apply, each mission has its share of “tailor-made” moments and decisions. Sometimes choices are harder to make, and it is almost a decision made in according to one’s personal conscience.

In our economic context, should we favorise the maintaining of strong teams (the famous quote : “don’t change a winning team!”), or rather think about the individual careers of our employees, train them to other responsibilities, even if it means losing them?

It is the Cornelian choice that we tried to dissect with Jean-René Rivière, Financial Director and HRD in transition.

RE: Did you regularly have to ask yourself this kind of questions during your interim management missions?

JRR: “Every time! That is a constant question. When we carry out an interim management mission, it is always team management, so that kind of decision comes up. But the answer is neither white nor black.”

Transition managers are doomed to leave. They must therefore increase their employees. But since the transition manager after 7 to 10 months leaves the company, the trained team must remain in place to recover the tasks of the transition manager. We have to get them up to the level of skills and a number of things, to make sure that their mission is done and that they will do it right. Life means that employees stay in the company or not. But our primary goal as a transition manager is the future of the company after we leave.

RE: Is there a form of humanistic management, where people are inspired by the idea that they are trained for the needs of the company but ALSO for their personal capacity?

JRR: “In 2017 we can no longer talk about the stakes of the company alone, the employees are much less attached to their company than in the last century.”

RE: Which sectors are particularly suitable for maintaining strong teams?

JRR: “All sectors are concerned. I can not go for the world of banking and insurance that is unknown to me.However, when a transition manager is used, it is usually a crisis. The transition manager complements the teams, and all sectors can be affected.

RE: What concrete measures do you use to develop teams?

JRR: “There is obviously individual training, but also to communicate its know-how, its methodology. I use a very participative management, I am almost their paper scraper! I make them do it, without ever criticizing because we all have things to learn. I like this very participative management.”

RE: What are the benefits of such a manager?

JRR: “I can leave the spirit serene, I have accomplished my mission from A to Z. Experience shows me that it is effective. I have been at least twice recalled for another mission in the same company. For example, I carried out a mission for an international company in Algeria to the position of CFO and HRD. We made two project starts, I arrived with the project manager: it was the blank sheet! I had 0 collaborators and 0 employees, we had to set up all the teams … I left by having trained Administrative and Financial Managers, able to do exactly what was asked about the financial aspects in the country in question. After my departure, my position was distributed on several people and the company recruited locally an HR Manager.

RE: Is there a specific method for transition managers to evaluate the skills of employees?

JRR: “I do not do a particular assessment. I especially care to complete the teams, equip each with the skills necessary to carry out the work. I have had to recruit assistants for certain people when I felt there might be some shortcomings. The goal, once again, was to be sure that everything would go well even after my departure.

RE: How to build teams in skills?

JRR: “This involves the transmission of knowledge, I adopt a very participative management. People have to be able to replace me. I sometimes had the teams complete with an “assistant”, a second to help on more modern tasks. Especially in management, dashboard, business monitoring … etc. Businesses know that getting people up in skills, completing teams so that the company is doing well … all through a Transition Manager, it’s still cheaper than a person on a permanent contract.

Our role is to bring people together in skills so that the company does not collapse when we leave.

We would like to extend a warm thank you to Mr Rivière Jean-Renée for sharing his experience and relevant views on the issues at stake.