Managers for restructuring

From an economic point of view, a crisis presents a situation in which the company's existence is threatened or its continuation is uncertain. Especially in such an exceptional situation, interim management might just be the right instrument. By YURDA BURGHARDT

About 30 percent of all interim assignments are in the area of crisis management and restructuring. This figure is not surprising when we look at the benefits of assigning an external manager.
Interim managers will focus on the problem and its solutions instead of dealing with the question as to who had caused the crisis – thus, finding the 'culprit'. Instead of thus wasting valuable time, the external manager is able to fully concentrate on the problem from the start. Lasting and sustainable solutions can only be realized with an entirely new perspective. Because it is only with such a different view on things that existing familiar patterns and deep-rooted processes can be broken up and new ideas will result. The viewpoint by the external manager allows unexpected and unusual possibilities for restructuring the company.

An objective perspective will lead to the desired result
The interim manager freely moves and acts – unhampered by internal structures – and in so doing is concentrating on the concrete task at hand. He or she has no career ambitions and no old networks or buddies within the company. The manager is unbiased, and there are no taboo areas for him or her. Lack of this psychological barrier is one of the most crucial success factors in handling and overcoming crisis situations. The manager's vision is not clouded by shadows of either the past or the future. The interim manager's sole personal motive is the assignment or task setting. Once the job has been done, he or she will leave the company. Such "freedom" brings about objective and optimum solutions.

Acceptance and trust form the basis
A company's workforce will more readily accept ideas and changes or alterations from an external manager than from their own management. Faith and trust in the "old" management has frequently been damaged since the workforce blames internal managers of being partly responsible for the company's adverse situation.

The interim manager generally will not be faced with hostile reactions but is rather considered a hero who may even become a "savior" and quickly a torchbearer or a hopeful. His or her objectivity provides motivation and will inspire a new atmosphere. Staff members are spurned on and will activate energies and creative forces. The external manager is crisis-tested and has many years of crisis-specific expertise and empirical knowledge – the basis for self-assurance and aplomb and thus a relaxed approach in dealing with problems.

Yurda Burghardt is Managing Director of Kerkhoff Interim GmbH. The subsidiary of Kerkhoff Group fills management positions, inter alia, in the areas of purchasing and supply chain management, lean management as well as process optimization.

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