More and more organisations are turning to professional communications interims as an efficient way to meet the changing demands of today’s business. This can be for a simple maternity cover assignment to leading communications for a new Target Operating Model. The management of this resource does differ from an employee relationship, so to manage them effectively and ensure success on both sides, VMAGROUP offers up the following nine tips.
If this is a change programme rather than a BAU maternity cover, a role profile will be too rigid to cope with the ever changing requirements. Better to set clear objectives of support needed and outcomes expected. This should be reviewed regularly and adjusted if needed.
Set out the level of communications required from them to ensure you are in the loop but not getting in the way. Communications contractors often sit in the change team with the Project Director as their day-to-day contact and have a dotted line into communications. Let them know how much detail you require and when.
You absolutely know your business but you brought them in as they are an expert for the type of change your company is now going through, be it to manage a new IT platform or merger comms. Learn from them and take their counsel on board.
Having established that they are the subject expert there is a limit to what they should be allowed to sign-off on. Make it clear what the approval process is for them and with other key stakeholders they are working with.
They are overqualified for the role so do not need a step-by-step guide or induction programme but will certainly benefit from knowledge of key stakeholders, project challenges and knowing where to find the necessary resources.
You want them to have strong relationships with leadership, so point them in the right direction and let them do their stuff. Don’t feel threatened; they are there to provide a solution which will reflect well on you and your team.
Ensure stakeholders know they are here to deliver a specific service on a project and jump in if someone is distracting them from that task. They are judged on the successful delivery of the project. If needs change and you need them to work on something else, that is fine; the whole point is that they are an agile resource, but be clear on new priorities and objectives.
If possible, see if they are able to mentor some of your team that aren’t working on the change programme. If that is going to take up too much of their time, set up some sessions for team members to shadow to provide learning opportunities and skill them up for future projects. Most consultants are happy to share and leave behind process documents or guides.
As the contract nears its end, the consultant will naturally be on the lookout for their next role. Keep a running dialogue so everyone knows when a contract is expected to finish or extend and both parties can manage expectations. You will have agreed notice periods in the initial contract, and whilst contractors will have an eye on the next pay cheque, they also want to complete the current assignment professionally.
Julie Mazzei – Managing Consultant, VMAGROUP
If you need further advice on managing the interim process from setting the right day rate to finding a specialist, get in touch with VMAGROUP’s interim experts:
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