September 21, 2022

Interim Manager Meaning

Interim manager meaning

Interim manager meaning? As with so many things, the meaning is heavily dependent on the context. But in all cases, ‘interim manager’ means a person charged with conducting an organisation (either in part or altogether) for a particular period of time.

What does ‘interim manager’ mean?

Interim manager means a temporary leader during times of change and transition. Typically, companies will appoint interim managers at short notice and on occasions where the particular leadership expertise and experience needed does not exist in-house.

The term can seem ambiguous because of the wide variety of scenarios in which interim managers are deployed. However, interim managers have been a growing presence in the workplace since the 1970s and the interim manager market is now worth over £1bn in the UK alone.

(By the way, if you are looking for an interim manager, visit our interim management services, which have consistently been rated TOP 5 for over 10 years.)

Define interim manager

The definition of ‘interim manager’ breaks down into its constituent parts as follows:

Hence, interim manager’s meaning is a person charged with conducting an organisation, or part of it, for a particular period of time.

“Interim manager means a person charged with conducting an organisation, or part of it, for a particular period of time.”

Interim CEO Meaning

An interim CEO means an external individual selected by the board to be chief executive during a time of transition.

The difference between an “acting” and an “interim” is that the ‘acting’ chief executive is unlikely to make any substantial changes or initiate any new projects or initiatives. They are simply there as a caretaker. In fact, an ‘acting CEO’ may not be a chief executive by background at all. Rather, it is someone senior from within the business who understands how its primary operations work in detail. Someone the board is trusting to keep things running smoothly.

An interim, however, is from outside of the business but with a long pedigree as a chief executive. They are someone who will act confidently in steering the organisation to a new future. Likely, they will not have a deep understanding of the business to begin with. However, they will rapidly develop one. In the meantime, he or she will know how to work with a leadership team to achieve objectives.

The advantage of the interim over the acting chief executive is that the interim will be very comfortable leading change and transformation during the transition period – meaning they are often the better option. (see what benefits interim manager for the other advantages)

In short, an acting CEO will typically provide continuity during a transition period. An interim chief executive, on the other hand, will seek to capitalise on opportunities to change the organisation for the better.

If things are going well and the future of the market looks similar to its past then an acting CEO is likely a prudent choice. If they are not and the market is challenging, an interim is almost always the better choice. 

Interim managing director meaning

An interim managing director means an external individual selected by the board to be managing director for a period of transition.

The key difference between an acting managing director and an interim managing director is that the ‘acting’ is unlikely to make any big changes to direction and policy. In fact, an acting managing director may well be preferred not to make any big decisions on their own. It’s essentially a ‘caretaker’ role.

(Often they may not be a managing director by background at all. Rather, they will be someone senior from within the business who understands how its primary operations work in detail. Invariably, they will be someone the board is trusting to make modest adjustments to keep things ticking along.)

An interim, however, will be an external individual (see what is an interim manager). And they will be someone with a sizeable track-record as managing director in other businesses. Typically, he or she will have more experience than most managing directors who occupy permanent roles. This is so the organisation can be confident that they are being steered effectively towards a new future.

The advantage of an ‘interim’ over the acting is that the interim will be very comfortable leading change and transformation during the transition period – meaning they can provide additional stability.

Interim general manager meaning

An interim general manager means an external individual who is brought into an organisation on a contract for a specific period of time to achieve particular deliverables. (See what is an interim manager’s role)

Unlike a permanent post holder, an interim general manager is there because they have deep experience and expertise specific to the current situation. A permanent post holder will likely have some relevant experience but the situation demands immediate addressal from an expert. Once this is resolved, the expectation is that the interim general manager will move on to another business, one with similar challenges. Whereas, a permanent post holder will be recruited or retained to use their more general experience for the longer term.

Interim operations manager meaning

Interim operations manager means similar to a regular operations manager but is an external individual brought in on a contract. He or she will typically have deeper experience than a permanent post holder. Likely the individual selected will specialise in the particular challenges that the role is facing right now.

However, an interim manager is only for a specific period of time. They are there to achieve the particular deliverables that the company does not have the deep expertise to address. The reason why they use an interim manager in these contexts is because they want immediate impact. And that means someone they can be confident will resolve challenges quickly and effectively. (See ROI of an interim manager.)

Interim project manager meaning

An interim project manager means an external project manager engaged to manage particular projects. Compared with contract project managers, interim project managers are usually more seasoned individuals. Typically, they are over qualified for the role, so you can be more flexible in the way you deploy them. However, the two terms often become conflated. The real proof of the pudding is in the quality of the individual candidate. This is why it’s important to ensure a verified track record of success. This is something that interim management providers such as Practicus can help you with.

Interim project managers are useful when an organisation has a significant change or transformation agenda. While many firms and institutions have their own project managers, it makes no sense to have them in the large numbers. Instead, they will seek to match the needs of their programme portfolio as it grows and shrinks. Consequently, many companies will supplement their delivery teams with external resource such as interim project managers as demand increases.


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  1. interim (n.), Sep 2022, Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. manager (n.), Sep 2022, Online Etymology Dictionary

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