Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Danger with the "Interim" Role

"Interim" is defined as "a temporary or provisional arrangement; stopgap; makeshift". But in the working world, interim titles sometimes carry a lot more weight and a lot more questions. Can this person handle this job? Does this person want this job? Will we find someone else from the outside who can do this job better? Is this person a viable candidate for this job? The problem (and, as I said in the title "danger") with the "interim" tag is that sometimes it can give an employee the wrong idea.

An employee should know from the very beginning whether a role is "interim" with the idea that it is really only temporary or "interim" as in "we're seeing how you perform and then maybe giving you the role". Those are two very different things that sometimes gets blurred. The last thing you want is someone to come into the role and think they are going back to their old role, or, much worse, think they are auditioning for a new role only to find out that they really were just a "stopgap". This happens all the time in Major League Baseball with interim managers and sometimes those people do not want be relegated back to other duties once someone else is hired to take their place--unless they know it is really only temporary.

If the role is meant to be a temporary stopgap, then let the employee know. Tell them this is their chance to shine and show what they can do in a more visible and senior role. Tell them that this is an opportunity to show that next time this job comes up (or something similar), that they can handle it. And tell them this will also show to everyone what a team player they are that they stepped in to the role. Just don't tell them they have a chance at getting the role permanently if they don't because that will lead to very angry, bitter employees once the truth eventually comes out.

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