Interim management on difficult contracts.

Matt WilkieIt may be many years ago that I started dealing with difficult contracts, often brought in at the last minute to cover for contract mobilisations, changes in structure or a contract that is failing.

But still today I find that I get the biggest buzz from putting contracts on the right path. Although working Interim in Facilities Management or managing Social Housing is often seen as a short-term role. The affects and solutions we implement are long-lasting and create the foundations for contracts to run on. Bringing our knowledge and experience into a role that can be demanding, at the same time its because its demanding that it excites us.

Knowing at the end of the contract that a job well done is recognised and our next contract is based on ability and merit we earned on previous contracts completed.

Many of the problems on contracts are better with fresh eyes as sometimes issues have become too engrained and accepted. A problem may exist that has always been there but nobody has looked to resolve it, because its always been there. Fresh eyes come with an Interim manager who will look to resolve as many issues as possible. Fresh eyes come from mobilisation managers and Facilities Managers who are there primarily to get things moving in the right direction.

In social housing many of the contracts I have worked on have been due to inefficient working, backlogs of work generated and people leaving because of stress. Yet as an interim manager you can enter the contract fresh and aggressively look to get the contract back on track. I remember one housing association where I had completed 56 hours a week for a 2 week period. It had been raised as a concern due to a 37  1/2 hour work week policy. Yet at the same time I was praised for it being the first time there had been zero complaints from tenants. A good interim manager will adapt to his surroundings and in this case 15 key members of staff had been allocated leave at the same time. Something that shouldn’t have happened but was also something I had no control over. Which left me managing all locations and all properties for the 2 week period.

This could have been seen as an impossible task, but instead I took it in my stride by seeing the positive. It was a time allocation where I could re-organise the workloads into sizeable chunks that dealt with multiple issues at the same time.  Finding job allocations had been raised multiple times, collating properties to specific surveyors instead of 3 surveyors visiting on different dates for different repairs. Ultimately bringing outstanding work down significantly and getting everyone on the same page when they returned. As its very common to hear people are busy, but what isn’t so common is finding what everyone is actually doing as many tasks are being repeated.

As an interim manager I turned the contract back into profitability giving excess of £12,000 per month  from a loss of £500,000 on the previous year. Having the vision to create change comes with fresh eyes but also as a good interim manager seeks out new techniques, experience and training picked up due to the diversity of the role. Each contract is slightly different but also meeting new people on a regular basis keeps an interim manager alive and with new found knowledge.